AmberianDawn_Innuendo1Amberian Dawn are a Finnish neoclassical power metal stalwart that has been around for almost a decade, always lurking somewhere on the outskirts of mainstream popularity, but never quite reaching the status of bands such as Nightwish or Epica. After seeing their fair share of ups and down, lineup changes and vocalist exits, the band centered around mastermind and only continuous member Tuomas Seppälä, regained its footing, and, aided by a very capable new singer, Capri, released a solid record in last year’s Magic Forest. With Seppälä’s penchant for stylistic drifting in mind, it was curious to see in which phantasmagorical realm of power/symphonic metal their new release, Innuendo, would land.

For female-fronted power metal bands, transitions between vocalists can be quite brusk. Rarely are they well-received by a band’s fanbase. Luckily enough for Seppälä and his cohorts, Capri (real name Päivi Virkkunen) is a powerhouse, so since taking the place of her predecessor Heidi Parviainen in 2012, everything went quite smoothly for Amberian Dawn, whilst pitchforks and torches remained hidden under beds. It’s easy to see why Capri was warmly accepted: she possesses a very pleasant, warm singing tone and a specific enunciation complete with just a hint of raspiness and raw power which she uses to distance herself from the crop of generic “operatic” singers. It’s because of the surrounding circumstances that Innuendo ended up quite heavily vocal-centered. Building upon the style utilized on Magic Forest  a heavy mixture of neoclassical influences and typical Finnish power metal, Innuendo takes Amberian Dawn’s songwriting towards a more singer-oriented approach, affecting other elements of their aesthetic along the way. Thus, their music will often strike you as metallized pop sandwiched between symphonic and power metal. In this case, that’s not a bad thing at all.

Songs like “Fame & Gloria” and especially “The Court of Mirror Hall” will make you double check that you’re not actually listening to ɐqqɐ, the power metal band from a parallel dimension in which neon blue and gold are the average metalhead’s colors of choice [Heretical blasphemy!Steel Druhm]. If you don’t think that sounds appealing or don’t like (this universe’s) ABBA, well, you probably don’t have a soul anyway. In short, Amberian Dawn tell fantasy stories to the soundtrack of Swedish pop-tinged metal. While bands borrowing profusely from Euro-pop isn’t a new phenomenon,1 Amberian Dawn feel relatively comfortable in this role. Indeed, the two aforementioned songs are easily standouts, with their big, earwormy choruses, power riffing, and joyous sing-along and jump-along melodies. But even if that’s the prevailing theme on some cuts, it’s definitely not the only one. Tunes such as “Ladyhawk,” “Chamber of Dreadful Dreams” and “Symphony Nr 1, Part 1” are embroidered with lavish orchestral backdrops, while traces of Ayreon (“Knock Knock Who’s There”) and Blackmore’s Night (“Angelique,” a pretty dreadful ballad) can be found scattered among the compositions.

Amberian Dawn_2015 (now with pirates!)

Still, visiting and revisiting the material, it’s the simplistic, pop-heavy songs that will stay the longest with the listener, requiring, nay, demanding humming even in the most absurd, inappropriate, and embarrassing of situations (talking from a friend’s experience, of course). On the other hand, the tracks that are tuned towards a more traditional idea of power metal, for example “Innuendo,” “Rise of the Evil,” or the closing “Your Time – My Time,” while of appropriate duration and without superfluous sections or repetitions, place band in an arena filled with similar and generally more capable opponents. Obviously and expectedly, the twin guitars, drums, and bass take a step back, both in the mix and in the songwriting, to allow the light to shine bright on Capri, whose voice is often matched in prominence only by the keyboards [I assume you mean “cheeseboards.”Steel Druhm].

It’s hard to dwell too much or for too long on Amberian Dawn’s shortcomings, and Jørn™ knows there are a few, when considering several of Innuendo’s smile inducing, energetic and energizing tunes that make this one of those musically “nothing special” records that might still hit more than one chord and resonate with listeners. It’s short, it’s sweet, and everyone needs a guilty pleasure.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: www.ameriandawn.com | facebook.com/amberiandawn
Releases Worldwide: October 23rd, 2015

Show 1 footnote

  1. It’s usually power metal bands that will draw their inspiration from European/Scandinavian pop, but it can get weirder as proven by this unofficial, unauthorized, and uncredited cover of ABBA’s “Super Trouper” by a shady Croatian shepherd metal crooner: “Iza devet sela.” Forgive me.
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  • This gave me diabetes.

    • Pretty sure it was all the Nightsatan you listen to.

      • Don’t you sass Nightsatan!

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Indeed. Who needs Fruit Loops when you have Doom Loops?

    • Roquentin

      Just go with it. Diabeetus is all the rage right now, everyone has it!

    • kornspring

      Lucky, I got cancer…

  • hubcapiv

    This may be the first time you’d have been doing a band a favor by replacing their band photo with a unicorn.

    • Name’s Dalton

      John Belushi Samurai Pirate?

      • hubcapiv

        NAILED IT.

  • Stefunal

    My little sister liked it.

    I did too, but no one ever found out.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Roquentin, you are now a 50% shareholder of ABBA tags on AMG. All we ask is that you use this great power with reason and grace.

    • With great ABBA comes great cheesiness.

    • Roquentin

      I’m writing a review of a black metal record ATM, I’m sure there’s an ABBA reference in there somewhere.

      • Grymm

        If I can fit an ABBA video in my review of Moon, I believe you have the power to do so in your review.

        The ABBA is strong with you.

      • Surely the review of the Abbath record deserves an ABBA tag?

  • Thatguy

    Sigh…why bother.

  • CarvedInStone

    I used to like them when Kasperi Heikkinen (who now plays with U.D.O.) was still in the band. His guitar playing gave their music the extra punch it needed to stand out from the sea of symphonic metal bands with female singer. Unfortunately he left in 2012 and Amberian Dawn became just another generic Symphonic Power band with too much emphasis on the symphonic part and too little on the metal part. What a shame.

    • Roquentin

      I think Heikkinen leaving is a symptom, not a cause, i.e. he probably didn’t like the change in style, so he abandoned ship. It’s what happens/happened to many similar bands as they try to appeal to a broader audience.

      Really, the best way is to look at “Innuendo” as a pop-record with some metal remnants. Under those conditions it can be enjoyable.

      • CarvedInStone

        Then just release a pop album and quit pretending to be a metal band.

        • The Metal Pigeon

          Not really sure that’s a realistic proposition, its as if we want to deny that most non-extreme metal doesn’t contain hooks or catchy songwriting. “Pop factor” has been an inherent foundation in rock and metal music since its inception, its not as if this is a new thing.

          Metal tributes to ABBA are proof enough that pure pop music has had an influence on musicians who grew up enjoying metal. At some point, that confluence of musical tastes was going to find an outlet somewhere.

  • sir_c

    funny, half of the guys wear their goatees on top of their head

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      And the other half wear their mohawks on their chins.

  • Wilhelm

    This is about as cheesy as they come, but I kinda liked it.

  • Shangsean

    The embedded track is absolutely terrible, as is the video clip. I think in general, thematic video clips don’t do power metal any favours. Making the band members look into the camera while they’re playing just makes it worse. The cgi from 1953 doesn’t help either. And no, movies didn’t have cgi in the 50’s, probably because it looked about as good as this. I wonder who donated the video because surely no-one paid for it.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I can´t believe no one has mentioned yet how lame that cover it´s. Top shelf execution of awful kitsch.