Review: “To Gaze Longer at the Earth” by Edenfall

Almost a decade after their last confession in 2014’s “Under Sultry Moons and Velvet Skies“, the return of Gothic tinged Doom Folk Horror Metal pioneers Edenfall has been on the horizon since the arrival of single “The Witch Hunt” twelve months ago. Adorned by captivating artwork from Joan Llopis Doménech their highly anticipated third album “To Gaze Longer at the Earth” was mixed and mastered by Mike Lamb from Sojourner at Ghost Bird Studios and it is said to be a haunting concept album that delves deep into the realms of ancient folklore. Offering a gripping narrative with each song serving as a distinct chapter in a bone chilling tale, enveloping listeners in an atmospheric world of otherworldly beauty and macabre mystique based on Anglo-Saxon folklore, dark mythology and the wilderness. Curiously enough the band have become a five piece with the addition of former Promethean Reign bassist TJ Higgs as original member Sean Brazil switches to lead guitars…

To be considered something of a labour of love which has been gestating for perhaps as long as four years, “To Gaze Longer at the Earth” begins in cinematic fashion with “Forest Of Veils” taking us to the Dark Wood of Error in Dante’s inferno. Whispers haunt like wind chimes in the trees as the atmosphere builds before bursting into Extreme Metal flame with icy keys and Death Metal growls combining the influences of Scandinavian climbs with a seemingly Cradle of Filth inspired offering. Clare Webster’s clean vocals are stunning as if classically trained and the balance on the scales of justice in stark contrast to Rob George’s lethal uncleans. After that magnum opus of a first chapter, the pick slide into “Penumbra” cuts through the ears like a heated blade through butter, the uncleans those of a wrathful God throwing lightening bolts at the minions who disobey the command. Another assault on the senses, this one has its roots in Pagan Black Metal, the clean vocals rising majestically like a phoenix from the ashes of the huge drum sound and classically styled guitar work. There is a timeless quality to the soundscape the band create, benefitting from modern production value to sound clean and crisp and yet instantly gratifying as the music draws you in with captivating dark beauty. Sombre and sobering, the melancholia of “Altar Of Grief” is befitting of the title, the dull ache of the piano and clean vocal accompaniment joined by powerful percussion and Gothic leaning Doom Metal guitars which stir the soul. Building from a spark to and inferno with an unclean vocal passage in the final third, the musicianship in evidence here is nothing short of stunning.

Is it possible to have a song of epic majesty that is also heavy? “Of Wand And Moon” answers that in some style with Melodic Death Metal touches and headbangable sections interwoven into the fabric of the sound alongside orchestrations, rich melodies and beauty. As each song plays out it surpasses the quality of its predecessor in such a fashion that it beggars belief, building on the foundations of gold and bones that came before it and growing darker in the process. “Oaken” continues the flow with another stunning piece of musicianship, the contrast of the harp against the crushing guitars and brooding atmospherics a hallmark of quality and the mix nailed to perfection by Lamb. A violent storm of turbulent percussion and Black Metal guitars “The Wild Hunt” finds George in his element with his beastly, fire breathing uncleans which sear the ear drums almost instantly. Once again the orchestration is masterfully done, enough to provide a cinematic touch of epic grandeur but by no means overpowering, while the majestic chorus from Webster is as divine as it is sing-a-longable. When her vocals are layered up against those uncleans the sheer power of it causes the ground beneath the feet to shake.

Reaching Ennio Morricone heights with the introduction to “A Wistful Reverie“, the dark clouds shroud an almost ethereal beauty before the Gollum like savagery of the unclean vocals take hold in this tale of woe. Meandering instrumentals soak the piece in atmosphere and the passion that has been poured into creating this is something it wears upon its sleeve, the emotive qualities bleeding through the bandages with a delicate nature. A choral piece with a harp accompaniment “Womb Of Winter” acts as a palate cleanser of epic proportions before the grand finale that is “To Howl At An Orbless Sky“, a Doom Metal monster that finds the band joined by Aaron Stainthorpe from My Dying Bride. A sixteen minute magnum opus that encapsulates all that Edenfall have created in enthralling and captivating fashion, the song is a sequence of moments that float together like piece of classical music. Transitioning through each phase sublimely, blurring the lines between genre and sub-genre while painting the a bleak picture that reflects nature, the band find a unique balance between beauty and beast and in doing so create something all powerful. No stone has been left unturned in the pursuit of perfection here and that dedication to their craft has yielded jaw dropping results. Long live the King. Long live Edenfall. [9/10]

Track Listing

1. Forest Of Veils
2. Penumbra
3. Altar Of Grief
4. Of Wand And Moon
5. Oaken
6. The Wild Hunt
7. A Wistful Reverie
8. Womb Of Winter
9. To Howl At An Orbless Sky (ft. Aaron Stainthorpe of My Dying Bride)

To Gaze Longer at the Earth” by Edenfall is out 14th July 2023 with pre-orders available over at bandcamp.

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