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The Tea Party - The Edges Of Twilight CD (album) cover


The Tea Party


Crossover Prog

4.33 | 124 ratings

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4 stars 20 Years On: The Tea Party's The Edges of Twilight

It's kinda amazing that this album even exists in a way, let alone exists, and is good. This is a progressive hard rock album, released smack bang in the middle of the 90's, when both progressive rock and hard rock was at its most uninspired and awful. Prog then was either corny Dream Theater clones or corny wannabe 70's revival trite, and hard rock was split between grunge and post-grunge (aka buttrock) and AC/DC-style 'tuff guy' wannabe 70's revival trite. It seems ridiculous that somehow The Tea Party (oh, and these guys are called the fuckin Tea Party) could put out a proggy hard rock record that a) isn't terrible, b) doesn't just sound like Rush, and c) actually is progressive and actually is hard rock is pretty incredible to be honest.

I'm going to say this straight away - this is better than any Rush record. Okay, maybe Moving Pictures tops it, but The Tea Party, at least for me, manage to merge prog and hard rock in a way that doesn't make me cringe internally. This isn't wanky nonsense with a punchier bass to give it a hard rock tag, nor is it dadrock with long songs to give it a prog tag. This is more or less the best progressive hard rock album I have heard, and it came out in 1995.

'Fire in the Head' is an absolute motherfucker of a song. I do hate using profanities to describe music, but there's simply nothing else that can grasp the balls on this track. From the harmonic- ridden guitar riff to the insane verse groove to the rich, powerful vocal lines, this song has testosterone levels that AC/DC could only dream of, yet does it without ever talking about trucks or intercourse. There's an insatiable swagger to Jeff Martin's voice here, with a very Jim Morrison-esque vibrato to it keeping the song in check. There are no tough-guy manly man-ness vocals of manliness here, because they're too good for that. It's so rich in powerful energy that even a rather campy Rush-styled pre-chorus lick can't pull the balls off it.

But the rest of the album doesn't try to repeat the energy of that track, and it shouldn't. Sure, a full record with the intensity of that song would have been pretty impressive, but it also would have been insanely dull. Despite me describing this as progressive hard rock a number of times, the majority of the album wouldn't exclusively fit in either. When it needs to pull some hard punches, it does, and there are some truly monstrous riffs to be found here, and the 'prog' side is more of a 'it's not generic trite' than a 'it has billions of solos' style of prog. The music here is tastefully written and arranged, which is a rarity for hard-edged rock music, even featuring soft, lengthy, piano led pieces, and a rather impressive acoustic instrumental piece, 'The Badger', focusing brilliantly on the harmonic play that many of the heavy riffs have, but with the acoustic instrument it takes its own form. 'Correspondences' is easily the other standout of the record, perfectly combining softer elements of piano and acoustic guitar with progressive structures and a couple of meaty hard rock riffs coming in its second half.

Jeff Martin's vocals really are the focal point of this album on the whole though, and I'm certain that without his romantic croon, this album would be nowhere near as impressive. He carries the music wonderfully through the album's otherwise pedestrian middle-run, with pretty much every song in this section being decent in one regard or another, often due to Martin alone. And I feel that this is the downfall of The Edges of Twilight. Although within the context of the 90's, this is absolutely brilliant and nearly unheard of - a new band coming in with the sounds of the 70's that actually legitimately sounds great, take this out of context and it's not as incredible. And the same thing goes for its genre. This may be a fantastic progressive hard rock album, but when has progressive hard rock really been fantastic? On the whole it is impressive, and definitely an essential album for any prog fan, but it's not quite as good as I want it to be overall.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Gallifrey | 4/5 |


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