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Also Eden


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5 stars It's a crime how under-the-radar UK's Also Eden have been for years. Yeah, there are a ton of excellent modern prog bands, but AE have deserved a place next to the most buzzed-about bands since their excellent 2006 debut ABOUT TIME. And while they've undergone lineup changes over the years, the band seems (mostly) stable since 2011's THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

On paper, you can hear AE's influences..a little Genesis, a little Marillion, a little Radiohead. On disc though, one of AE's charms is their unique sound, and while you can spot the precedents if you try, they never fall into purely derivative territory. (Only on CHILDREN's "The Greater Game" do they sound overtly like Fish-era Marillion, and I've always thought it was more hommage than anything else.) Their previous three albums are all superb, especially CHILDREN, but on (REDACTED) AE have reached a new pinnacle of modern progressive art.

Yeah, it's a concept album. And yes, you may have heard it revisits a surprisingly familiar prog-rock concept, namely the aftermath of a devastating traffic accident. But while both Dream Theater and Spock's Beard have used this conceit to convey a sense of fear and dread (with mixed results), (REDACTED) instead gives us a meditation on life and survival that is positively Zen in its organic approach. Like the best prog, it spools out slowly over the course of its 8 tracks, often building tension and heft through the layering of clever and surprising instrumental tracks. Also like the best prog, the album reveals itself only through repeated listens, and sounds fantastic on a good pair of headphones. The mix is get wide soundstage like a good Floyd album, but there's also a gorgeous depth....Rich Harding's classicist prog vocals sail cleanly about a spacious pillow of sound, buffeted by layers of guitars and keys. Listen closely and you hear things you won't C&W-influenced slide guitars, or the bits that sound like one guitar figure magically expanding into multiple tracks right before your ears. Simon Rogers outdoes himself with axe work that always supports the songs and creates context and often soars melodically, but never crosses the line into wankery.

I could single out a song or two but the album functions as a whole and should be heard that way. The concept and some of the other clever conceits (like the song titles) enhance the work but aren't necessary to enjoyment. (In fact i fell in love with the album several spins before reading about the story behind it.) If you like your modern prog organic and lush, melodic and moving, with a lot of sonic detail that requires more than just a casual spin but real attention on your part to uncover. (REDACTED) is a must-hear. If you're already a fan of AE you will love this record. If you're not, you will be after experiencing (REDACTED).

Report this review (#1087287)
Posted Sunday, December 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars First things first, I was sure that I had already written my review for this album so here goes again. Although I was aware of Also Eden and had heard quite a few tracks from their albums, this was the first time that I was fortunate enough to be able to listen to a complete album from start to finish. The first thing that strikes you is the quality of recording and the excellent musicianship of the guys. The vocals are really clear and concise and I love the style of singing. It's not like many others in Prog who tend to try and sing like Gabriel or Fish. Rather than go through each track and give a view, I'd prefer to use the whole album as the basis for people going out and making this purchase. Each track on the album is excellent and a worthy part of any Prog fans collection. It's a definite 4 1/2 stars for me or 9 out of 10 if you prefer. Do yourself a favour and listen to this album, you'll be suitably impressed.
Report this review (#1131596)
Posted Friday, February 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars This is the fourth studio album from South-Western neo-proggers Also Eden, but although I am sure that I heard the debut when it came out in 2006 I have somehow missed these guys through the years, and I can see that on the basis of this I am going to have to undertake some searching as this is superb from start to finish. I know that they have been through some line-up changes over the years, but as I am treating these as basically a new band I can't comment on what impact that may have had on their overall sound, all I know is that I like this. A lot. Rich Harding's vocals reminds me of a lower version of Galahad's Stu Nicholson, with the same quality and melody yet with the edge at times of Credo's Mark Colton. Certainly on a musical front there are similarities with the aforementioned Credo as well as IQ, but although I mention these just to give some sort of idea of the sound these guys are very much their own band.

I have often thought that some progheads look down on the 'neo-prog' genre, and some of the bands themselves hate being called that, but to me this album epitomizes all of the best from the Nineties when I and many others (but not enough, let's be honest) traipsed around from Walthamstow to Whitchurch and all points in between as we tried to support the progressive underground. It brings back the memories of hearing Winter for the first time when I was the only person in the audience (Red Lion Brentford ' sadly missed, but never forgotten), or jumping around to the madness of Grace or the metallic monsters that were Mentaur and Freewill. Harmony vocals, great riffs and hooks, keyboards and a rhythm section all joined together, who could wish for more? This is progressive rock that brings a smile to the face of the listener and the desire to get up and move, as they remember that the second word of the genre is indeed 'rock', something that often gets overlooked. Sheer fun from start to end, here is a band I need to hear more of.

Report this review (#1145110)
Posted Monday, March 10, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I took the plunge with Also Eden, titillated as I was by a few reviews from some cherished colleagues, a leap of faith often rewarded with jubilation and excitement. Boy, was I in for a large surprise, as it's a much sharper edge than I was expecting, vocalist Rich Harding in particular sounds a lot like Geddy Lee and guitarist extraordinaire Simon Rogers really scorches and shreds. In my mind, this is heavier modern neo-prog, perhaps closer to Crystal Palace, Deeexpus, Riverside and Haken, bands that follow the prog philosophy but also understand the need to ROCK. Nothing wrong with that, we all need to let the juices flow from time to time. The pugnacious rhythm section is particularly active and threatening, Graham Lane doing some magic stuff on his booming bass guitar while drummer Lee Nicholas kicks tight hard butt. There is a glistening sonic veneer that is instantly appealing, catching one almost off guard upon first listen, a trait that implies quality and creativity.

The growling guitar supplies the first raised eyebrow, as Rogers does a Jeff Lynne wink (the track "Dreaming 4000" off ELO's On the Third Day) , kicking this one hard and nasty, setting down a tone of metallic angst that will not dissipate throughout the disc. This hefty opener also offers various contrasts, ambient waves, softer expanses blended into the steamroller main menu.

A hushed "Endless Silence" suggests echoed sounds from a distorted keyboard, tick-tock fuzzed percussion, while Harding opts for the whispered, nearly comatose voice approach, a recipe for classic progressive exploration. Simon enters with a brief, radiant and fuzzy solo, very experimental and somewhat schizoid that segues into its companion piece "Distortion Field", a bold, in-your-face neo-prog rocker, closer in method to Arena, Galahad, Pallas and IQ. Sinclair shuffles among various components of his keyboard arsenal, letting Rogers rage on his Gibson Les Paul with obvious energy.

A "Maggot Brain"?like guitar spot intro on "A Lonely Idea", screwing psychedelic insanity onto a chugging electronic beat is how this piece evolves into an all-together completely alternate universe, muted voice in recognizable anguish, a heartless riff coming clean and vaulting this sucker into Geddy Lee helium-voiced territory , inhabited by clicks, clangs and slick imagery. Nothing predictable, even though this genre can be quite formulaic when in neutral. Also Eden have their own sound, of that there is no doubt! Harding really gives a worthy vocal performance, letting his soul inhabit the lyrics.

The high point is reached with the surreal mastodon "Chronologic", a sweeping and pulsating tune that has brash modern-isms (actually almost recalling recent Ultravox), Harding doing his best Midge Ure impersonation , it's a pretty amazing sound! Lane rattles nicely in the basement, bashing heads with the mad drummer. The mid-section is a splendid respite from all the effervescent aggression, a podium for some slick meanderings that are 'oh so cool', the nasty Rogers axe rasping and cajoling briskly. The resultant solo is acidic, liquid rage along the fret board, but short and to the point. Harding has now evolved towards a more conventional metal howler.

The dreamy "The Test" shuffles into breezier territory, fueled by an almost country-style slide guitar that gives the piece a little accessibility. Harding swoons 'melting in the rain' as if he meant it, full of abnegation and despair.

Back to some bombast and energy, and perhaps my favorite track here, the deadly "Extend & Embrace" , a brooding nightmare song where Harding does his best Fish/Stu Nicholson imitation. Lane's bass pushes, Nicholas drums along and Rogers manipulates his fret board with liquid simplicity. Great track!

"Decoded" is the final chapter, acoustic guitar intro entices an early Genesis-like mood, Harding singing about some 'soft machine' , a real professional prog solo from Rogers seals the deal, a fitting end to an enjoyable album, certainly nowhere near masterpiece stage but a fine release nevertheless.

4 spellchecks

Report this review (#1161313)
Posted Monday, April 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars They call it Neo. "I don't know what they're talking about, but count me in."

This is the case, when each song topped the previous one, while the very first one already was great. I don't know, who is responsible for the music, but songwriting is excellent, so is musicianship, add to it passionate vocal throughout and original sound - Melodic Symphonic with a modern twist. I was listening the album in my car, came home, my wife already called me - where I am, but I couldn't stop playing to the very end.

I hate conspiracy theory, but what it is - it is: for a last few years most prog bands silently agreed to suck all my money out. However, I don't mad at them - just give me more albums like this one. 5 Stars from Eden.

Report this review (#1177703)
Posted Wednesday, May 21, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Less neo-prog and more modern prog, [Redacted] takes Also Eden in a new direction. Fans of both neo-prog and more modern hard prog like Riverside or Haken may find a lot to enjoy, but those who prefer the old Also Eden will likely come away disappointed. Their first three albums were undeniably neo-prog; their fourth still has some of their old neo-prog sound, but they've [d]evolved. The vocals are pretty standard neo-prog and they clash with the rest of the music. The guitars are harsher and more modern. The music is more complex, harder, more unsettling, and busier than their earlier albums. Somehow, though, it's not any more interesting. "Extend and Embrace" is the best song on the album, and the most true to Also Eden's neo-prog roots.

It's perfectly fine listening, with neo-prog sounds shining through every once in a while, but it's not something I'll be returning to very often, if at all. I'll stick to their first three. 3.0 stars.

Report this review (#2948805)
Posted Thursday, August 31, 2023 | Review Permalink

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