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Ajalon - On The Threshold Of Eternity CD (album) cover

ON THE THRESHOLD OF ETERNITY

Ajalon

 

Symphonic Prog

2.95 | 35 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
2 stars 'On The Threshold Of Eternity' - Ajalon (4/10)

Let me first say that Ajalon's debut was awful. In this case, 'awful' is meant to apply to virtually every aspect of that album; everything from the sappy Christian lyrics to the production reeked of amateurism and the throwaway quality that bad bands around the world all aspire for. With that in mind, please note that my rating of Ajalon's second album 'On The Threshold Of Eternity' may be influenced due in part to the element of my surprise. While Ajalon haven't gone through an extreme makeover in the years between the first and this sophomore album, there is enough of a change here to make me reconsider a few of the nasty things I said about them earlier. First, 'On The Threshold Of Eternity' sees the band return to the studio after a number of years, and it is clear that they have picked up some much needed professional skill in their time off. Next, Ajalon's work this time around may not be so much more ambitious, but the combination of a better execution and interesting guest musicians make the album something of a recommendation, if only a numbingly lukewarm one.

As the debut 'Light At The End Of The Tunnel' outlined, Ajalon is a Christian band, and they accord themselves and their lyrics to that belief system. The debut was wrought with sappy Christian apologetics, with vocalist Will Henderson most typically found wailing about how his friends didn't understand his faith. The Christian lyrics come back again, and this time, they're more confident than ever. As a vehemently unreligious person, it is difficult to find anything to enjoy about the lyrics, particularly due to the fact that the religious concepts of salvation and redemption that Ajalon are dealing with here are approached fairly literally. While the lyrics certainly haven't improved much from the debut, virtually every other aspect of Ajalon's work has enjoyed an upgrade.

Most notably, the production has gone through a world of change. No longer do the guitar tones sound like they were plucked out of Radio Disney, and the recording has been given a depth that one could only have asked for on the debut. In essence, the sound of Ajalon has risen to be more or less on par with most other symphonic prog acts. In the time between the debut and 'On The Threshold', there have also been changes in the songwriting. Instead of shamelessly following the footsteps of Marillion, Ajalon are now more focused on paying tribute to the symphonic work of Spock's Beard now ex-frontman Neal Morse. It's not necessarily an improvement, but the uplifting tone is more fitting for the band's spiritual themes. The songwriting sounds less laughable, although now Ajalon has fallen into the trap of having a fairly static sound throughout the album; there are few retreats from the melodic, chorus-centric songwriting. The instrumental opener 'Anthem Of The Seventh Day' is an exception to this, and it starts the album off on a very strong, Celtic- inspired note. The two epics here lack cohesion, but they're also graced with a few moments that inspire thoughts of vintage prog.

Incidentally, Rick Wakeman of Yes fame gives a cameo here, as well as none other than Neal Morse himself. While this pair could have done wonders to boost Ajalon's sound, they are used fairly scarcely, and despite their star quality and talent, they are only given the spotlight for a bleak moment before Ajalon takes over again. 'On The Threshold Of Eternity' is not a good album, but it's not disappointing either. In many ways, I've been pleasantly surprised by what they have done here, yet despite their monumental improvements in some areas, the band's lackluster songwriting and overbearing Christian themes will be the death of them.

Conor Fynes | 2/5 |

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