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THIS GOOD PLACE

Ajalon

Symphonic Prog


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Ajalon This Good Place album cover
3.25 | 26 ratings | 8 reviews | 4% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Love Is A Dream (7:17)
2. Nickels and Dimes, Marbles and Stones (4:52)
3. Not Man (6:43)
4. Abstract Malady (6:44)
5. Lullaby of Bedlam (8:40)
6. Redemption (19:06)
7. This Good Place (6:10)

Total Time: 59:32

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Wil Henderson / vocals, bass guitar, Irish whistle
- Randy George / guitars bass, keyboards
- Dan Lile / drums and percussion

Guest musicians:
There are some special guests on the CD to help round out the sound. Band members have appeared individually on other artist recordings with Steve Hackett, Adrian Belew, Paul Gilbert, Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Phil Keaggy and Michael Manring just name a few.

Releases information

ProgRock Records

Thanks to psarros for the addition
and to SouthSideoftheSky for the last updates
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This Good PlaceThis Good Place
ProgRock Records 2009
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AJALON This Good Place ratings distribution


3.25
(26 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
4%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
46%
Good, but non-essential (50%)
50%
Collectors/fans only (0%)
0%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

AJALON This Good Place reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US act Ajalon has produced a solid effort with this third effort of theirs, and one that should appeal well outside of the borders of the Christian prog scene.

And although this most recent effort of theirs thankfully is mostly free of preaching lyrics they do have stories to tell, and they make sure that the stories are noticed - the vocals are an integral part of the soundscape in all vocal passages, the voice an instrument in it's own right on top of a musical backdrop much more subdued.

The music in itself is somewhat subdued generally, careful and subtle passages with a light and positive timbre are found aplenty on this venture. Acoustic or clean electric guitars with subtle layered keys and synths in rich arrangements is the setup of choice, with an insistent bass as the foundation and soloing passages for more energetic excursions. The latter mostly featuring keyboard or synth dominated ventures.

A select few darker-tinged songs adds variation, and the added contrast of these tracks make them stand out from the rest as well, with Lullaby of Bedlam as a distinct highlight in my personal opinion. A strong effort overall.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#251062) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 16, 2009

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars EDIT: So actually it's not so shallow, is it? Full of cheap tricks (depending on your state of mind, they're not necessarily cheap at all times, remember this), but better than their previous album. Take most of reasons which I was rumbling about in last review, but leave some of them. Mostly, this is better album. Maybe supervised by Neal Morse (just thought, not confirmed, nor supported by any proof). But I'm sometimes tempted by nice tunes and very complex song-writing skill. These parts are switching, like hill-trench-hill-trench and over and over again. Or maybe it's just me and I just have a bad feeling from their previous albums. As Windhawk said, this is preachy-free. Not that it does matter a lot, because lyrics aren't obvious for me half a times.

3(+), believe it or not (do believers believe, or they actually are unbelieving believers?), it's actually not so bad. They surely improved their arsenal of words and musical skills. Over all these long years, even it still sounds quite like sweat dagger in the back, preaching, about him, him and merely him. But on the other hand, they can play very well, given all these "guests".

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#257074) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, December 20, 2009

Review by 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!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#267539) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 22, 2010

Review by J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This Good Place Could Have Been Better

I discovered Ajalon the same way many people did; through Neal Morse. I was intrigued by Randy George's impressive bass playing with Neal Morse and company, so it was only a matter of time before I checked out his band Ajalon. Although I had heard On the Threshold of Eternity before, This Good Place was really my true introduction into Ajalon's music. After giving it a lot of attention lately, I can comfortably say that this is a very good album that could've been much better if a few relatively small things were fixed.

First of all, there are a few things that "on principle" could turn you away from this band before even hearing them. They take an obvious Christian lyrical approach, which can either be a plus or a minus depending on the person. I am not usually bothered by religious lyrics, but I will be the first to admit that in many cases they can become very cheesy very quickly. With Ajalon, it's kind of a mixed bag. Songs like Nickels and Dimes, Marbles and Stones and Not Man have very interesting lyrics, whereas Love is a Dream and the title track are on the cheesier side of the equation. If you don't like Christian lyrics on principle, these definitely won't be the exception to the rule. The second thing that could definitely turn off some people is Ajalon's "retro" style. While the band has developed their own sound, they don't bring many new things to the symphonic/neo prog scene, and don't take the most original and innovative standpoints with this release.

If you can look past those two things, This Good Place is a really great purchase. Ajalon's sound is, as mentioned, "retro", but they're not a clone band. They are a combination of more accessible symphonic prog bands like Spock's Beard and Echolyn, mixed with the religious lyrics of Neal Morse's solo works, and some neo-prog and pop sensibilities.

This Good Place consists of 7 tracks and has a 59:32 running time. This means all of the songs are pretty long, with the 19:07 Redemption taking the cake as the epic. Ironically enough, the shorter songs are actually my favorites here. Love Is a Dream, Not Man, Nickles and Dimes, Marbles and Stones, the instrumental Abstract Malady, and This Good Place are all pretty good, but the 8:40 Lullaby of Bedlam and the 19:07 Redemption are disappointments in my book. They have moments of greatness, but the themes don't develop enough and they become slightly trivial.

The musicianship is a mixed bag. Randy George is, just as I expected, absolutely fantastic. I knew he was a monster on the bass, but he is also very skillful on the keyboards and guitars. Not many people are this proficient on these three instruments, and I will praise Randy George for being able to do that. Wil Henderson's vocals are good, but he sounds a bit weak and needs to be more forceful at times. He's a decent singer, but nothing more. There are a few guest musicians on the album, the most notable of them being Rick Altizer doing the vocals on Not Man. He is a fantastic vocalist, and I often wonder what this album would've sounded like if he sang the whole thing. In its current state, the vocals are good but leave something to be desired. The real problem is Dan Lile's drumming, which is too trivial and unpredictable. He's talented, but he just doesn't know how to make good fills. There are many times where he will do cymbal crashes or big rolls when they're completely unnecessary. I would honestly recommend a more simple approach, and to focus more on making good fills rather than hitting every drum in the kit. It may be partially because of the annoying sound of the drums due to the weak production, but Dan could definitely improve as well.

The production is a pretty big issue here. As mentioned, the drums are the biggest concern here. The treble is way too high, and the drums sound completely fake as a result. Add in the fact that they are too high in the mix, and you have a near-disaster. The other instruments sound alright, but everything's way too clean and crystal clear for my tastes. I have the deepest respect for Randy George, but I do think its time to hire a professional producer. Their music would definitely benefit from that, and This Good Place would've been a much greater album.

Conclusion:

This Good Place has a lot of potential, but it doesn't always deliver. At its heart this is a great progressive rock album with solid compositions, but the weak production, sometimes questionable musicianship, and slightly derivative style really bring down the overall quality of the album. As it stands, this is a good album, thus a 3 star rating is deserved. I would've given at least a 4 if a few small problems had been fixed, and it really frustrates me that so many flaws got into the final album. Still, I am excited to hear Ajalon's future efforts.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#290297) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars American progressive band with christian lyrics. Their sound is quite pleasant and it has that retro feeling I appreciate so much. I was impressed that Ajalon is in fact a trio: they sound like a five piece a least! They are quite good. And their music is that typical 70´s american progressive music: strong, but not overwhelming, influence from british prog giants like Yes, plus lots of other native influences like jazz-rock /fusion, blues and even a hint of pop and country here and there. The result is quite good, but not very outstanding.

Don´t get me wrong: those guys are obviously very skilled and know their trade. Randy George has proved himself a terrific bassist in his work with Neil Morse already and he shines here. The instrumental Abstract Malady is a good exemple of how good the band is technically speaking . I also enjoyed the vintage keys (mostly Hammond organ. They could have added more)Yet I find the general songwriting stuff not very exciting. The lyrics are alright, I suppose: they are not too preachy. The group´s main problem seems to be the rather bland vocals and the weak production. The drums sound for instance sound so thin and in the background that steels much of the songs power.

In the end I found this album to be good, but not much more. The band has a great potential, no doubt, but I guees they´ll have to mature those songwriting skills a little bit more and find a better producer. If you like american prog music of the 70´s you should check this out. It is worthwhile.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#293607) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 06, 2010

Review by 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.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#538051) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 30, 2011

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 for sure

Ajalon is one of the progressive rock bands that are not so well treated, at least here, and I don't get it why, because have christian lyrics??, because are no so intresting, musicaly speaking as other symphonic prog bands??, I have no problems with both from above. Ajalon's third album from 2009 named This good place issued at Prog rock records is another worthy album for me. In the same level with predecesor who I really like it, this on is no less intresting. Symphonic prog well performed with some fantastic pieces like instrumental Abstarct malady, great tune with excellent musicianship, nice keyboards passages and some good guitar parts, another highlight is Not man who sounds little bit like Spock's Beard but ok in the end and the longest track from the album Redemption, nearly 20 min of good progressive rock, sometimes remind me of Magenta, maybe because of femal singer and aswell some arrangements give that impression. Not a bad album at all in my opinion, I really like it, same as predecesor. 3.5 stars for this album. I don't know if this one is their best, I'm more into On The Threshold Of Eternity, but This good place is not far. A good band that needs a wider recognition, even for some listners the lyrics are the wall between them and the band.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#634084) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Latest members reviews

4 stars 8/10 Well, this band only grow on me, and although this time I have understood that sound poppy integrate your overall sound (see the title track that closes the album), ale'm passages very Toto-esque (the instrumental Abstract Malady comes to mind), I can see that they matured throughout h ... (read more)

Report this review (#957634) | Posted by voliveira | Saturday, May 11, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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