The trouble with Eden’s Curse is that essentially they are a faceless amalgam of everything else that’s going on in power/symphonic metal in 2016. The second track on this album, Sell Your Soul, could have appeared on literally any album to have been put out this year on Frontiers Records by that label’s succession of production line outfits.
There’s nothing wrong with this of course, and power metal lift music has to be more preferable than the real thing, but when the two main reference points here – Tobias Sammet and Gus G – are very much alive and kicking and putting out high quality material themselves there seems to be little of interest that Eden’s Curse can offer. Keyboardist Christian ‘Chrism’ Pulkkinen is a bit of a wizard, and his playing often lifts mundane material up a level or two, but there’s precious little else to get excited about on Cardinal. Songs come and go, staying in the brain only for as long as it takes to listen to them, with only a few points of interest sticking out along the way.
Power ballad Find My Way at least exhibits a desire to create music of lasting worth, as does closing track Jericho. Both of these point to a band that has the songwritng smarts and executional ebullience to occasionally pull off songs a little out of the ordinary. But those moments of brillance are counterbalanced by awful dreck like Kingdom of Solitude, an awful stab at funk rock that wants to be Kansas or Extreme but just ends up sounding like some try hards down your local on a Saturday night. Get the funk out indeed…
In their heart of hearts Eden’s Curse want to make an album that sounds like a 21st century version of Rainbow’s Rising. Unfortunately to do that they need to get a vocalist onboard with more personality in his pipes than Nikola Mijic, who’s generic Eurovoice just isn’t up to the pomp and ambition of bassist Paul Logue’s songwriting. Like much else in the world of Eden’s Curse, he comes across as a cut price version of what the band are really looking for, at times selling some solid material short due to his less than compelling performances. This is Your Moment in particular cries out for a bigger voice than Mijic possesses.
Like I say, there’s nothing here that is actively appalling, and once or twice over the duration of Cardinal you do feel you’re in the presence of a band that might be able to touch greatness. But that doesn’t happen often enough to make this anything other than an album of passing interest – buyer beware.