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Edensong - Years in the Garden of Years CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.98 | 154 ratings

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5 stars Edensong very kindly suggested that I review this album, for which I was flattered as anything prog-metal is out of my league. In fact, I may be ridiculed by some fans for not owning any Dream Theater albums but so is taste, open to ever ending debate. I never had any kind of affinity for technical displays of instrumental prowess (unless in a live form, where you can SEE the effort). I am a moody guy and, like any good astronaut, I need all kinds of atmosphere to get my rockets firing. Joking aside, I took upon myself to be as objective possible and eliminate the tinkering with paralleling DT, which I am sure Edensong is not that anxious to oblige. "Years in the Garden of Years" is the title of this sophomore opus , a 70 minute behemoth of definitely progressive rock and having no prior knowledge of this group, here are the members: James Byron Schoen mans the guitars and vocals, Tony Waldman plays drums, percussion and BG vocals, Stefan Paolini fingers the keyboards, BG vocals, T.D. Towers provides the bass, BG vocals and Barry Seroff the flute.

So with an open mind and freshly q-tipped ears, I sat down and gave this a completely devoted audition as "Cold City" tumbles out of my hot speakers, I cannot help being immediately drawn to two rather overt impressions: Tony Waldman is a wild man on drums and percussion, playing technically complex one second and craftily nuanced the next, apparently at the drop of a hat. Secondly, the flute has a rather preponderant role in Edensong and does not serve as some banal side dish, just to add flavor, but rather as a de facto vital cog in the instrumental machine. A slight medieval opener that saunters to the next level, propelled by the lightning guitar assaults that are paralleled by the beastly rhythmic onslaught. Guitarist Schoen carves with a stinging tone, like some metallic wasp gone berserk. The various keys used by Paolini serve to illustrate new sonic orchestrations, yet using a fair amount of soloing

Then comes the whopper of all whoppers: an eight-part extravaganza based on the title and its theme of time and circumstance. The entirely instrumental "End Times" begins quietly enough, strumming acoustic guitar and luxuriant cello, when suddenly the staccato drumming, some harsh guitar and insistent piano all forge a common alliance , one of utmost urgency and insistence. It segues nicely into "In the Longest of Days" where the vocals take over, tinkling e-piano (that is killer) in the background. Things get ghostlier with the spectral "The Hallowed", a somber feast of cello, flute and percussion that could have emanated from the first crusade, a campfire of knights heading to Jerusalem, a forlorn acoustic guitar stunningly beautiful and sublimely melodic, a fragile voice doused with lavish despondency intoning the pain of 'his cries were so alone', supplementary cello and flute attempt to 'console the laughter' and thus 'the pain begins'. A shimmering mood of expert melancholy that eventually gets hot and heavy, espousing a contained anger that surges over the soul. This is a tremendously entertaining slice of prog rock, as sweeping piano, choral orchestrations and profound sonic resolve impose their will. This is definitely not prog metal by any stretch, much more modern symphonic with medieval tinges and a vivid contrast of both time and essence.

Technical connoisseurs need not worry as "Down the Hours" spirals into the stratosphere, still occasionally resting in warm pools of atonal melancholy, before resuming the wild ride, again fueled by Waldman's athletic propulsion. Seroff's handles the flute with adamant abandon, until guitarist Schoen takes over the spotlight and begins chugging rather furiously, a flick of a talented wrist and nimble fingers that grope the fretboard with lewd assertion, this is quite a revealing display. An electronic-tinged intermezzo serves as a studied outro. The highlight track must be the vocal-less "Chronos", a 9 minute musical consecration, incorporating all the ingredients that are unique to this masterpiece, furrowed by the penetrating bass rumble of TD Towers, who muscles the arrangement into a sturdier display of tectonic prog, muscular drums pounding away, the flute fluttering, the cello churning and the 'kettle almost boiling', this could easily have passed as vintage Jethro Tull on Passion Play steroids, with a dose of insanity to boot! Paolini's keys create superb colorations and Tony '2Toes' is 'moving with authority' as he strikes the skins with audacious intensity. The percussive solo is phenomenal, allying Japanese-like disposition with fragile instruments and expanding the atmosphere beyond space and time.

The bass first harrumphs like some burping politico, chain-saw guitar ramblings scorching the background, as the voice laments on "Generations", a perfect set-up for the second winner here , the brilliant "Atman Apocalypse" a heavily King Crimson (David Cross version)-like intro that evolves into a panorama of musical expression, with tinges of raging deliverance, roller coaster rhythmic swells (Waldman again) and careening valleys, screeching synths that scratch the mind, all combining for a savage ride. There is a nearly 'Supper's Ready'- like feel, what with all the tonal dramatics, the theatricality of the arrangement and the quirky vocals. I was impressed and taken by the first run through, incredibly aroused by the powerful conveyance of such great prog standards that we all know and love. Its fast, slow, hard and soft, all wrapped in some symphonic veil and progressive filigree. The pedal stays firmly on the turbocharger as the finale of the 8 part suite kicks in, as "Regenerations" rekindle earlier pleasures of delicate sound and eventual thunder, buoyed by immense orchestrations, subtle acoustic guitar interventions and passionate vocals drenched in sorrow, cello in tow. Labyrinthine energy, compositional creativity, instrumental efficiency. The mellotron-drenched ending is unadulterated pulling at the heartstrings, Tony sadly bashing his drum kit, the orchestrations traversed by sizzling synth stabbings, this is just perfect music, period. I actually applauded when I first heard this track end.

The sandwiched opus finishes with the deliberate "Yawn of a Blink", a raucous adventure that has these little details that add pleasure to the pain, such as those metallic harpsichord sounds, the volcanic Waldman fills, a scouring organ foray and echoed vocals that showcase both resolve and anguish. Flute hands off to e-guitar, and both go headed straight to the end zone, smilingly waiting for the black and white dude to signal touchdown! Yes, indeed.

Perhaps not being tainted with any kind of prejudgment has helped me in my enjoyment and subsequent review, all I can say is that this is pretty special stuff indeed that thoroughly deserves a much wider audience, certainly in view of the incredible amount of variety, interest and research that went into this labour of love. One thing is for sure though, this isn't Dream Theater! Along with fellow New Yorkers Circuline, the state of US prog is fantastic. Lets fix their politics soon , please.

5 orchard of ages

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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