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Mike Oldfield - Heaven's Open  CD (album) cover

HEAVEN'S OPEN

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

2.51 | 127 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Michael sings!

Compared to the previous Amarok, Heaven's Open is far less experimental and clearly more conventional. But this is not necessarily a bad thing though! This album has the same structure as albums like Five Miles Out, Crisis and Islands in that half of the album consists of shorter songs while the other half is one longer piece. However, this album has a kind of consistency that these other albums lacked. Most of Mike's 80's albums felt more like compilations of random tunes than genuine albums. These albums often lacked any clear direction, featuring pure pop songs side by side with Mike's more progressive and experimental excursions. Often he also had several different guest singers (both male and female) further contributing to making his albums shattered and incoherent. Mike appeared to be unsure of where he wanted to go.

Here Mike (or Michael as it says on the cover) handles all the lead vocals himself which contributes greatly to the album's consistency. Mike is a good singer, slightly reminding me of Marillion's Steve Hogarth in some tones. It is a wonder he didn't sing more often on his albums.

Another factor speaking in favour of this album is the presence of real rock drums. There is a much stronger band feeling on this album than possibly on any other Oldfield album!

As I said, half the album features shorter songs. There is a slight gospel feeling to some of these songs that might put some people off, as it did me at the first couple of listens. However, somehow I immediately liked the catchy title track. The long piece is entirely instrumental and not one of Mike's best long pieces. But it is fully listenable even if not very memorable. I will, however, give it more chances in the future though.

If you expect something similar to Tubular Bells or Amarok or Songs Of Distant Earth you will be disappointed. But if you like Crossover Prog acts like Peter Gabriel (some sounds here remind slightly of Gabriel's Sledgehammer) or Alan Parsons Project then this might be for you. This is in my opinion the most consistent of Oldfield's more conventional leaning rock albums.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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