I remember discovering Finnish power metal act AMBERIAN DAWN way back in 2008, listening to their very first full-length debut album “River of Tuoni” on repeat, while the band took off and continued to make a name for themselves. I fell in love with their fresh, original style, and have been ever since. Looking back to those times with a hint of nostalgia, I can hardly believe how far the band has come, and how much their particular style has kept evolving over the years. Now “Looking For You”, which makes for their ninth full-length studio album, is set to be released at the end of this month (31st of January) through Napalm Records. Let’s take a look at where the band’s journey has taken them next, shall we?
The lyric video for ”Lay All Your Love On Me,” released back in November, gave more than major hints to the direction AMBERIAN DAWN has decided to take, but – nevertheless – I wasn’t prepared for how much ABBA they are channeling with this album. Even though this was a long time coming, and it isn’t surprising when you take into account the band’s latest style shifts on former records (especially “Darkness of Eternity”), listening to this album catapulted me back to the 80ies in the form of a cute yet slightly terrifying hybrid of metalhead and “Dancing Queen“. Keyboard wizard and songwriter Tuomas Seppälä did mention ABBA as one of his influences once, but I had no idea he had his own inner Benny Andersson to write songs like the ones on “Looking For You”. He even got to use Andersson’s own studio for the recording, which must have been very inspiring.
Opening track “United” immediately brings the ABBA influence in full glory, and the rest of the album solidifies it. There is no escape, it’s in every single note, but – of course – especially in the keyboards, which are the driving force that make all the songs fit together neatly. This, however, doesn’t mean this is merely the metal version of ABBA, and I can’t decide whether a new genre called “ABBA Metal” is pretty cool, slightly cringy or a bit of both. In any case, AMBERIAN DAWN has more to offer than catchy melodies, with refined songwriting, emotional lyrics, and immaculate production. Songs like “Two Blades” and “Butterfly” are especially synth and vocal-driven, which you either like or you don’t, but it’s undeniable that the band absolutely nails the vibe they were going for. That said, I have had “Go for a Ride” stuck in my head for days now, so mission accomplished.
On an entirely different note, fans from the early hour, like myself, will get all giddy about the only song on the album reminiscent of the old ways, “Symphony No.1 Part 3 – The Awakening”. Featured in this gem is former RHAPSODY OF FIRE vocalist Fabio Lione, whose amazing signature voice is quite complimentary to the ravishing vocal talents of frontwoman Capri Virkunnen. Focusing on the vocals, I have to say her bright, soaring voice fits all the catchy tracks surprisingly well. She has always been a versatile vocalist, and this new style was yet another opportunity for her to grow, which she seems to have seized with both hands. Moving on to the guitar work, I have to say it’s most definitely not on the forefront, so some of the more riff-oriented fans will be left hanging. That said, the guitar solos are short but sweet, which at least partly makes up for the lack of profound heaviness.
With this upbeat record brimming with positivity, AMBERIAN DAWN has bravely gone where not many metal bands have gone before. This isn’t a heavy record at all, but more of a pop-metal hybrid, which will definitely raise some eyebrows, as it always does. I’m not a huge ABBA fan myself, but you don’t have to be to appreciate the originality of “Looking For You”. It’s catchy, it’s clever, and – more importantly – it’s fun. This record will either make you happy or drive you crazy. So, crazily happy or happily crazy? It’s up to you to find out! And, who knows, maybe there is yet another Finnish Eurovision Song Contest win in the making…
- Eternal Fire Burning
- Looking for You
- Two Blades
- Symphony Nr. 1 Part 3 – Awakening (Feat. Fabio Lione)
- Go for a Ride
- Lay All Your Love on Me (ABBA Cover)
- Au Revoir
- Cherish My Memory Re-Mastered (Bonustrack)
“Capri” Virkkunen – Vocals
Emil Pohjalainen – Guitars
Jukka Hoffren – Bass
Joonas Pykälä-aho – Drums
Tuomas Seppälä – Keyboards