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Edhels - Angel's Promise CD (album) cover





2.90 | 15 ratings

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3 stars The last album of the 20th century from the Monaco-based Edhels took the liabilities of their flawed 1991 "Astro Logical" album and turned them into virtues. The band's icy digital sound hadn't thawed in the previous six years, but this time they used it to their advantage, as heard in the potent opening rhythms of the album's kickoff track, "The Lord of the Fire". And the writing was more sensitive to instrumental color and melody, recalling the band's popular "Still Dream" album, recorded a full decade earlier but even now a career peak.

The addition of vocals is a bit of a shock, however. The instrumental music of Edhels was never geared toward actual songs, but the singing here is at least weird enough to add a not-unwelcome sense of cognitive dissonance. Check out the mock-heroic "Guinevre's Regrets", in which Arthur's queen delivers a backhand slap across the face of courtly chivalry: "Instead of cutting off dragons heads / You should have cut off your own / Bloody Lancelot of Camelot / Rot in hell, forever..." Take that, Thomas Mallory!

The oddball song interludes (all of them odd-numbered tracks, by the way) make a half-hearted effort to swim into mainstream waters, but the riptides of Marc Ceccotti's compositional eclecticism are a little too strong. From the lush Neo-Prog bombast of "On the Borderline of Sleep" to the idiosyncrasies of "Gentle But Not Giant" (take that too, Derek Shulman!), this is a collection of music dodging all over the Prog Rock map.

It might have been more effective as an unplugged effort, as suggested by the delicate acoustic guitar of "Life, Life". And with a total running-time of 70-minutes, be prepared to accept a little padding. Tighter editing might have revealed the four-star gem hidden somewhere inside it, but as it stands the album marked a welcome retreat toward a less clinical, more accessible style.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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