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Ajalon - This Good Place CD (album) cover

THIS GOOD PLACE

Ajalon

 

Symphonic Prog

3.25 | 26 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars This more than decent place

Ajalon is a band that was discovered and endorsed by Rick Wakeman in the mid 90's when they had been around already for a few years. They released their debut album on Wakeman's own Christian record label, Hope Records, in 1996. While I have yet to hear that debut album, I very much enjoyed the band's second album, On The Threshold Of Eternity, which featured impressive guest performances by Rick Wakeman, Neal Morse and Phil Keaggy. This Good Place is the band's third and latest album, and I must say that it is not up to par with the previous one. The melodies are not quite as memorable or effective this time and without the "star power" that Wakeman and Morse brought to On The Threshold Of Eternity, Ajalon comes across as a little bit too anonymous to be really interesting in their own right. However, This Good Place is still a good album and there is no doubt about the considerable talents of its three members: Randy George, Will Henderson and Dan Lile. (You might recognize George from his participation in Neal Morse's great solo albums '?' and Sola Scriptura).

The sound of This Good Place is actually different compared to On The Threshold Of Eternity. The electric guitars have a somewhat heavier sound and the mood is a bit darker overall. The sparkling acoustic guitar and keyboard solos that made the previous album so exciting are much less apparent here. There are still plenty of keyboard soloing in these songs, but it is somehow much less vivid and colourful. The slight folky/Celtic touch of the previous album is also wholly absent here and no instruments over and above the "standard" ones used in Symphonic Prog are present here. Another difference is the strong presence of female lead vocals on several songs. I do enjoy these new aspects of the band's sound and it is fully understandable that they have evolved since their last effort. However, it all comes across as less interesting compared to the previous album to these ears. The songs are all very pleasant and the album flows very well, it remains pleasant even after many listens, but it never rises above pleasant. The end result is, as I have said, indeed very pleasant, but also rather unremarkable and the music somehow feels a bit understated. This album is a rather typical modern Symphonic Prog album.

The sound is basically the same throughout the whole album and it is a bit hard to tell the different songs apart or even to remember anything specific about any of the songs afterwards, even after several consecutive listens.

The Christian message has deliberatively been toned down for this release, which is a positive thing for most Prog fans, I guess. Being an atheist myself, I sometimes have a problem with religious lyrics. But as long as they are not too explicit and can be made meaningful even outside of a Christian context I usually don't mind. Wherever an artist finds his inspiration, as long as it leads to good music, it is fine by me. Overall, This Good Place is a rather toned down version of On The Threshold Of Eternity, not only in the lyrical respect.

I recommend anyone to start with the much better On The Threshold Of Eternity, though This Good Place is indeed a good place to continue, even if it is by no means essential listening!

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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