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Ajalon - This Good Place CD (album) cover

THIS GOOD PLACE

Ajalon

 

Symphonic Prog

3.25 | 26 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Ajalon: This Good Place [2009]

Rating: 5/10

My time with Ajalon's music has been an upsetting experience. I had high expectations for this band after hearing Randy George's bass work on Neal Morse's solo material, but they have turned out to be an enormous disappointment. The debut, Light at the End of the Tunnel, was an abominable piece of work replete with dull musicianship and painful songwriting. The follow-up, On the Threshold of Eternity, was a vast improvement, but that isn't saying much; while the album had some solid moments, it was also filled to the brim with horribly cheesy mainstream Christian-rock. In the wake of these two albums, I approached Ajalon's third effort This Good Place with the lowest of expectations. I was pleasantly surprised. It's quite clear that these three musicians have developed significantly during the five years since On the Threshold of Eternity was released. This Good Place is no masterpiece, but it is leaps and bounds above the sub-par material Ajalon were producing beforehand.

Although there are some standout tracks here, they don't appear until around twenty minutes in. The only notable thing about the opener "Love Is a Dream" is how mediocre it is. The songwriting here is incredibly lazy, particularly the vocal lines. "Nickels and Dimes, Marbles and Stones" is an unremarkable piece of melodic -rock with more inorganic vocal melodies, and the dry pseudo-hard-rock of "Not Man" fails to improve things. The album does an absolute 180 with "Abstract Malady." This is an excellent Dream Theater style instrumental featuring great musicianship all around. The keys and guitar play off exceptionally well, and the whole track features great melodies and motifs. The absence of Henderon's marginal vocals also helps. "Lullaby of Bedlam" is another strong track. The DT influence continues here, with great melodic guitar work and solid synth lines. The vocals even manage to sound decent. After these two strong tracks, we have the nineteen-minute epic, "Redemption." The majority of the vocals on this piece feature a female guest vocalist. This woman's voice isn't particularly special, but it is certainly better than Henderson's. This is a good prog epic, but not a great one. The first section is quite jazzy and features some good guitar work. The Celtic-themed middle section is a bit dull despite some enjoyable synths. The last seven minutes, while good, fail to be suitably climatic. Overall, though, this is an enjoyable opus. Things die down with the closing title track, which is nothing more than an unremarkable ballad.

This Good Place has given me a new level of respect for Ajalon. There are some great moments here, particularly the superb "Abstract Malady." However, the amateurish elements that have always plagued Ajalon's sound are still present here, albeit to a lesser extent. There is a coating of artificiality that covers this whole album, regardless of the musical quality. I feel little passion at work here. This is the fundamental problem with Ajalon's music; it fails to engage the listener on an emotional level. It's hard to get excited when listening to an album like This Good Place. It's inoffensive, but that's not enough to make it special. Still, the band has undeniably improved on this release. At this rate, their ninth album will be a masterpiece.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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