January 27, 2020 Amberian Dawn – Looking For You (Album Review)
Arising much like a phoenix, Finland’s Amberian Dawn continue their flight across the sonic landscape with Looking For You, a flashdance through infectious Power Metal. Napalm Records deliver the goods on Friday, January 31, 2020.
Formed in 2006 amidst the ruins of Founding Father Tuomas Seppälä’s former band Virtuocity, Finnish Metal quartet Amberian Dawn has seen their fair share of ups and downs throughout the past 14 years. Empowered by this, the group has released an impressive eight full-length albums, from 2008’s River of Tuoni to 2017’s Darkness of Eternity, and crafted their own signature sound. Blending a multitude of references and influences—from fairy tales to Finnish poetry—their sound is anchored in Symphonic Metal and Power Metal, but ultimately something much greater than its composite parts.
Touring the globe and sharing stages with the likes of Epica, Kamelot, and many more, has allowed the members of the band—Keyboardist/Guitarist Seppälä, Vocalist “Capri” Virkkunen, Guitarist Emil Pohjalainen, Bassist Jukka Hoffren, and Drummer Joonas Pykälä-aho—to hone their craft to perfection. The proof of this appears on their ninth studio offering, the 11-song Looking For You.
The album immediately gets your blood pumping with “United,” fraught with glorious 1980’s synths that will have you flashdancing in celebration. A call for unity, a push for listeners to achieve their dreams, Amberian Dawn pick up where they left off with Darkness of Eternity, providing the uplifting counterpart to their 2017 venture, and immediately provide a glowing positivity that slowly fades out to set the scene for “Eternal Fire Building.” With glittering Moog synths and passionate guitars, they continue to inject the ‘80s into their prancing steps for another motivational shove, a promise that you can do anything you want—it’s all within your reach.
The titular “Looking for You” dips into a midtempo, sultry atmosphere for its smoky verses before it gets its dance on in its choruses. A lyrical look at sadness and loneliness, yearning never sounded quite so sweet as on this track. Next, the synths once again steal the show as the band dive into rocker “Two Blades.” Here, Virkkunen’s vocals soar as she sets a toe-tapping pace for this ode to secretive love.
Tossing everything that has come before aside, “Symphony Nr. 1 Part 3 – Awakening” continues the series that began nearly five years ago, and delivers a dramatic, cinematic experience that features Fabio Lione (ex-Rhapsody Of Fire). Like a slice of Broadway in the middle of the record, Amberian Dawn blend their joyful Power Metal with racing drums and strings to craft an epic presentation that is fully worthy of velvet ropes and a red carpet. If Queen and ABBA had a love child who starred in Romeo & Juliet, she would be the human embodiment of this track.
How the hell do you follow that? Back to the dancing! And at this point in our journey, you already know how some of the tracks are going to pan out: mostly upbeat bops that revel in a sunny disposition no matter how serious their lyrical content. Well-performed and infectious, but not always the most diverse collection of material. Case in point is the return to the ‘80s, “Go for a Ride,” which utilizes racetrack analogies to inspire you to fight for your rights. Cute but not show-stopping.
Providing a bridge to some of the album’s stand-out material is “Butterfly,” an exploration of what life might be like as a delicate, fluttering beauty. But this moment serves to deliver us into the arms of the Rock-n-Roll lullaby “Universe,” a twinkling dreamscape of sound that adds something fresh into the mix. All of this before the band embrace their ABBA-ness by covering the Swede’s 1981 hit “Lay All Your Love on Me.” And yes, it fits the album like a fingerless leather glove!
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and the quintet begin to wind the album to a close with the epic instrumental “Au Revoir,” an aptly-titled Power Metal communion. And it would be the perfect closer for Looking For You, but there is a bonus track, a remaster of the catchy “Cherish My Memory.” Still a fitting finale to a bright and bubbly collection that seeks to motivate and inspire, all while placing a smile on its listener’s face.
So, why did it take us so long to realize that Amberian Dawn are the Power Metal equivalent of ABBA? We’re not sure, but Looking For You has joyfully opened our eyes. Full of sunshine-filled moments on the dance floor, a wonderlicious ‘80s nostalgia, motivational lyrics, and an awe-inspiring symphonic duet, the band’s latest has a little something for everyone. For providing a light that shines through the darkness of eternity, Cryptic Rock give Looking For You 4.5 of 5 stars.