EYES OF EDEN
"Faith"

(Century Media)

01. Winter Night
02. When Gods Fall
03. Star
04. Pictures
05. Dancing Fire
06. Sleeping Minds
07. Daylight
08. Man In the Flame
09. From Heaven Sent
10. Not Human Kind

RATING: 7.5/10

Despite his success as a producer, it's hard not to feel kinda bad for Waldemar Sorychta. The German guitarist has spent years playing in bands like GRIP INC. and DESPAIR to little acclaim and less sales, while the bands he records (THE GATHERING, LACUNA COIL, TIAMAT, MOONSPELL, etc.) go on to worldwide glory. Sorychta was the best thing about both of his previous groups, despite the high-profile presence of Dave Lombardo in GRIP INC. — his fluid, classically-tinged soloing, inventive riffing and sense of dynamics and atmospherics added more to those bands than credit was ever given for (check out that last, very unfairly ignored GRIP album for some damn fine guitar and production work).

Having finally decided to put his knowledge of female-led atmospheric metal bands to good personal use, Sorychta has rounded up 21-year-old singer Franziska Huth and the drummer from HIM and created an album of just that. Fans of LACUNA COIL or the "Mandylion"/"Nighttime Birds" era of THE GATHERING will know what to expect here — plenty of emotional, dramatic female siren singing, layers of swirling keyboards, and big, simple, propulsive guitar chords accentuated with clever little runs and mini-solos.

This is very much on the pop side of things — a song like "Star" is all about washes of strings, catchy choruses and show-tune like crescendos. But give it a good listen, especially in headphones, and marvel at the sheer density of the song – there's a lot going on here, and Sorychta layers it all so expertly that not only do the cascades of strings, drums and guitars not seem cluttered, it's actually easy to miss how much work went into the tune. Elsewhere, simpler is better seems to be the mantra, though even on the big, blocky CANDLEMASS stomp of "Dancing Fire", there's plenty of subtle ear candy. Huth's breathy, come-hither voice is always projected center stage, though, with the band wisely leaving her plenty of room to vamp up front.

If anything, the pop leanings of the album become its biggest drawback — too many songs follow the same tempo and have similar choruses, which can make it hard for the album to make a distinct impression. A little more metal oomph would have made a very good album into a classic — but this is a minor quibble, especially for a brand-new band's debut. Let these seasoned talents work together a while, and let Huth come into her own as the world-class singer she is becoming, and EYES OF EDEN will be among the leading lights of this scene.

More rock and less pomp than NIGHTWISH, a little more gritty and substantive than LULLACRY, or — what the hell — just take the easy comparison and call it a minor-league LACUNA COIL. It's hard to know if EYES OF EDEN will make a dent or be seen as chasers of a trend already in full swing, but "Faith" is a respectable debut and a harbinger of great things to come for this band. They enter a field ripe with clichés and acquit themselves with style, passion, grace, and — most important of all — great songs.

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