Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Album Review: Eden's Curse - Cardinal

I understand that bands have issues, and that members will come and go. It happens all the time, and I seldom bat an eye at it. But there are a few times when I have to shake my head and wonder just what in the world is going on. Eden's Curse would be one of those bands. They were formed by singer Michael Eden, and obviously, they were named for him. He was the star of the show, and whatever the creative process was, the entire band was centered on him. So when whatever happened led to his departure from the band, the decision to carry on without the namesake of the group is one that I can't quite understand. For the rest of their career, the band is saddled with the reminder that he isn't there anymore, and dogged by questions regarding how and why they continued on without the very reason for the name.

But with that being said, I'm not going to say it affects the music itself. That's what we're here to judge on its own merits.

What Eden's Curse delivers is music that I wouldn't call metal, but is very heavy AOR. It has plenty of heaviness, but is certainly song-oriented the way that I would like it to be. They are clearly focused on writing songs and big melodies, which is both the best and worst thing I can say about the record. It's the best thing I can say, because that should be the aim of any band that isn't trying to write obscurely unintelligible music, but it's also the worst thing, because it reveals the band's failures.

The band is solid enough that the basics of these songs were always going to be good. There isn't a single interesting guitar riff or keyboard line to be found, but that's not the point. This kind of music is entirely dictated on vocals and hooks, and that is where they come up short. Even though this is his second outing with the band, singer Nikola Mijic doesn't have anything interesting to add to the mix. His voice fits right in line with what plenty of other AOR bands offer up, but it's his melodies that are most disappointing. With precious few examples, his writing lacks both the hooks and personality necessary to make this a great record.

I'm not saying "Cardinal" is a bad record. It's perfectly acceptable, but it's going to get swallowed up by better albums that will come out, and that already have. With the saturation of music out there, every album needs to either have a unique identity, or be utterly amazing, to gain traction. "Cardinal" has neither.

Eden's Curse, I think, is in a tight spot. They're continuing on with a name that implies something that's no longer there, and they aren't writing good enough music to move past it. They're a solid band, but they need to be more than that, and because of that I can't get excited by what "Cardinal" has to offer.

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