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Ajalon - Light At The End Of The Tunnel CD (album) cover

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

Ajalon

 

Symphonic Prog

2.21 | 19 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
1 stars Ajalon: Light at the End of the Tunnel [1996]

Rating: 2/10

What an unpleasant surprise.

I first learned of Ajalon's existence the same way most people did: through bassist Randy George's work on Neal Morse's solo albums. I was enormously impressed with Mr. George's work on albums such as Sola Scriptura and Testimony 2; this man laid down bass lines that were both creative and technically proficient. I was excited when I found out that Randy had his own band, Ajalon. Checking out this group immediately became a musical priority of mine. I was expecting some top-quality symphonic prog.; to put it as mildly as possible, my expectations were not met. This album is bad, pure and simple. The songwriting is amateurish to say the least; I can't think of a single interesting or memorable musical moment on the entire record. The musicianship is equally as a poor. Everything sounds formulaic and mechanical. The keys sound like they were programmed onto a ten-dollar Casio keyboard. The guitar work reminds me of an 80s soft-rock album. The rhythm section is so dull that I can't even conjure up words with which to comment on it. The vocals, however, are the worst part of it all. This man's voice is painfully flat. At best, this is a bad vocal performance; at worst, it's an uncomfortable and cringe-worthy affair. The laughably terrible Christian lyrics certainly don't help make the vocals any better. I'm definitely not a religious person, but even if I was, I would still find these lyrics terrible: "I know it's going to take some time / But I'm sure I will see heaven / Because He promised He would stay / And if my friends don't understand / I didn't need them anyway." Bad lyrics don't normally bother me, but this is just miserable.

The album opens with "The Illusion of Permanence." This track sounds like a combination of 80s anthem rock and the worst elements of neo-prog. "Spiritual Fire" features the worst chorus and lyrics on the entire album, which is saying something. The halfway-decent piano work is absolutely wrecked by the insipidly uninspired songwriting. "Girl on a Swing" is an extraordinarily uncreative "power ballad" type of track. A sax solo shows up here. This would be a good thing under normal circumstances, but it just adds to the cheese. Some grating falsetto vocals show up, as well. "A Thief In the Night" is the only decent track here. The vocals are weak as per usual, but the guitar and keyboard work is fairly solid. This track is mediocre, but not terrible. "To Fly With You" is an embarrassingly terrible Christian-rock song. There isn't even any sort of prog influence here; it's just straight up pseudo-acoustic Christian-rock. I'll say it again: this is embarrassing. I literally cringed the first time I listened to it. "Commonwealth" actually features some decent drum and bass work. Otherwise, it is just as poor as everything else on the album. The title track is another hard-edged ballad. What else to say? Writing about these tracks is getting exhausting. The closer "The Long Road Home" is an eighteen-minute epic. I'm the type of prog fan who gets a bit giddy whenever I see epic tracks like this on an album, but this piece absolutely failed to do anything for me. It's just as dull as everything else here. The off-putting spoken-word passages certainly don't help it at all.

Light at the End of the Tunnel has been one of the biggest musical disappointments I've ever experienced. I enjoyed Randy George's work on Neal's albums so much that it's almost hard to believe that he was involved with something as trite as this. I do have to admit that there are tiny slivers of potential to be found here, but they're so deeply buried under the refuse that they might as well be nonexistent. I feel the need to restate how abominably awful of a song "To Fly With You" is - this track alone would be enough to make this a one-star album. I mean absolutely no disrespect to the musicians involved with this release; any kind of musical expression is a noble thing. This is the only positive thing I can say, though. Light at the End of the Tunnel should be avoided at all costs.

Anthony H. | 1/5 |

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