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Ajalon - On The Threshold Of Eternity CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.04 | 42 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Grace in the midst of the fire"

Imagine that born again Christian and songwriter extraordinaire Kerry Livgren (of Kansas fame) would have formed a new band in the present millennium together with Rick Wakeman, Phil Keaggy and Neal Morse and you have a pretty good idea of what the music of Ajalon is like. Livgren is not in any way involved in this group, but Kansas seems to be an inspiration for Ajalon. Wakeman, Keaggy and Morse are, on the other hand, all present here as special guests. The band itself consists of Randy George, Will Henderson and Dan Lile.

My interest in Ajalon came primarily from being a Rick Wakeman fan, but I am also quite fond of Neal Morse's excellent solo albums ? and Sola Scriptura to which Randy George has contributed. According to his website, George has also worked with one of my favourite guitarists Steve Hackett at some point but I don't know where and when. I'm not going to go on with the name dropping here, but these famous and well respected names give more than a hint to the kind of music Ajalon makes.

The history of Ajalon goes back to 1994 when they started to write music together. In 1996, Rick Wakeman heard a demo tape and was impressed enough to sign the band to his own Christian record label Hope Records on which Ajalon released their debut album. This is their second album, released in 2004.

On The Threshold Of Eternity is a melodic and well produced modern Symphonic Prog album with Christian inspiration. Being an atheist myself and even part of a secular Humanist organisation, I sometimes have a problem with religious lyrics. And if you read the lyrics here there is no doubt about their religious or "spiritual" orientation. However, in some instances it is surely possible to make your own interpretation of these lyrics and make them meaningful even outside of a Christian context. Jesus is, for example, not explicitly mentioned in the lyrics (though he is thanked in the liner notes!) and God and 'the lord' figure explicitly only occasionally. The lyrics are therefore actually a bit more intelligent and subtle than one might think, though I certainly understand that it can put some people off. But anyone who can stand Neal Morse should have no problem with Ajalon.

I know that some music fans are able to almost completely ignore the lyrics but while I'm not one of those people, I still think that the lyrics are of lesser importance here. It is the music that stands out for me. We have here tasteful melodies and many instrumental passages with many nice guitar and keyboard solos. We also have some very discrete use of unusual instruments like Irish whistle, bodhran, sitar, mandola and also some discrete female backing vocals that give some passages a slight folky touch. Rick Wakeman contributes great Moog and organ solos to What Kind Of Love and Forever I Am while Neal Morse sings lead on a verse on the title track. Phil Keaggy is not someone I am very familiar but he has apparently a long career in (Christian) Rock music (?). He contributes some very tasteful acoustic guitar solos.

The hidden bonus track is a pretty good Moody Blues cover but it adds little to the album as a whole. It does, however, reveal another influence of the band in addition to what I hinted at before; Yes, Steve Hackett, Kansas, Neal Morse. This is not to imply that Ajalon are copycats. While hardly groundbreaking, they have something of their own to offer as well. I particularly like the strong acoustic (and slightly folky nature) of the music within the electric Rock framework as well as the lovely melodies.

I enjoy this album a lot and I can strongly recommend it to anyone who does not have a stronger aversion towards religious lyrics than I have myself.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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