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Also Eden



3.84 | 109 ratings

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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

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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