Album review: EDGE OF PARADISE – The Unknown

Frontiers Music [Release date 17.09.21]

Edge Of Paradise is a duo made up of Armenian/ Russian/ American singer, “the female Robin McAuley”, Margarita Monet, and American guitarist and songwriter, Dave Bates. The Unknown is their fourth album, and second on Frontiers.

The duo have got a lot going for them. Their first two recordings were helmed by respected producers, Michael Wagener and Chuck Johnson respectively. This latest album is produced by Howard (Halestorm/Daughtry) Benson, and engineered by Mike (Van Halen/Dio) Plotnikoff.

That would be room enough to celebrate. But to find that the arrangements, the music and the performances match up to the expectations is a thrill indeed.

Monet’s multi-octave voice is gloriously hypnotic and theatrical. Not in the sense that she overdramatises her vocal performance, but in the sense that she’s not just singing, she’s acting out the part she plays.

Her sensual, breathy vocals on ‘Digital Paradise’ easily switch up through several gears as her voice soars, and on the darker toned ‘My Method Your Madness’ it eventually reaches escape velocity and rockets into orbit.

It’s passionate, articulate symphonic metal, occasionally conducting lightning raids onto hard rock terrain… ‘False Idols’ has more of a contemporary sound, faster paced and more simply constructed. It’s anchored by a solid percussive beat that latches on fast to a hard rock groove.

There’s always a lot going on in Benson’s imaginative arrangements. Much of it not always immediately obvious. He’ll drop a few bars of synth strings into the middle of a song, giving it a classy, elegant tone, or he’ll stretch out soaring strands of amazingly sustained melody, while upfront, Monet is delivering a blistering slice of raging symphonic metal.

The title track, ‘The Unknown’, is a bit like that. After starting life as an ebbing, flowing ballad, meandering through some sweet piano phrases, it’s caught up in the sudden storm of Benson’s symphonic orchestration, carrying all before it.

It’s a hard act to follow. But they try. Especially on ‘Tidal Wave’ and ‘Believe’, two songs that stake out a sizeable chunk of pop metal territory.

We’ve seen a proliferation of Symphonic Rock albums on Frontiers of late. This is unarguably one of the best. ****1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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