EDEN’S CURSE, Condemned to Burn (2009 Metal Mayhem)

The skull:
For a cover stitched together from a bunch of stock art, this is at least nicely done. Raven, skull, fire, banner, some brickwork in the back. The album is called Condemned to Burn after all, so the flames make sense, and the raven is a traditional omen of death, and maybe that scroll thing is supposed to evoke a written sentence or something. I can’t explain the bricks, but a skull’s gotta float above something I suppose.

The music:
Condemned to Burn appears to be a quickie odds-and-sods compilation thrown together to sell on tour, so there’s no real cohesion here, just your ordinary mix of bonus tracks, acoustic versions, demos, and live cuts. Eden’s Curse are heavy AOR like recent PC69 or pretty much any “metal” band on Frontiers. When they get heavy, it’s all crunch and no riff, and when they go light, it sounds like they’re looking for a radio hit in 1987, but the songs are generally catchy enough. Groaningly, the singer’s stage name is Michael Eden, which somehow makes everything sound worse. He’s got a nice set of pipes, and if he comes off a little girly sometimes, he’s at least always in tune and reasonably emotive. Highlights are the opener, “Prisoner of the Past” and “Eyes of the World,” while the hairy stomp of “Stronger than the Flame” is probably my least favorite tune here. In fact, none of the demo tunes are especially great, and since I assume they’re demos for something, that doesn’t bode especially well for their proper full length albums. That said, “Prisoner of the Past” was a bonus track, so unless they’re the sort of band who leaves their best stuff for their secondary markets (a weird and strangely common phenomenon), they must have some fairly good songs in their catalog somewhere. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to finding out, but it’s nice to make it through a review with some optimism intact.
— Friar Johnsen