This is an absolutely gorgeous collection of songs and I really hope saying so at the start of a review does not lose half of its readers. If you are still here, do stay, as if you are new to The Eden House you may make one of those discoveries that will stick around for years to come. Although the band were formed by a nucleus of Tony Petit (is he back with Fields Of The Nephilim?) and Stephen Carey (ex Adoration) do not go thinking of them as a standard Gothic band as they add so many other textures to their sound. They also have an ever revolving group of musicians and singers joining them on each recording and live show. This time they have outdone themselves with no less than six female lead vocalists (and you can have great fun working out who is who on the album, don’t think for a second that I am going to do the work here). We have Lee Douglas who has defined latter day Anathema albums so fantastically, Jordan Reyne who impressed me supporting FOTN last year and Monica Richards of Faith And The Muse amongst them. Together with a score of musicians their combined call over these nine songs are really going to make the iciest of hearts melt.
A lot of this is incredibly mellow but that is no bad thing as it is sublime with it. First number ‘Bad Men’ is one of the rockier numbers mainly due to the hook of that so memorable guitar line repeated during it which to me is pure Led Zeppelin. Around it the ever present bass tone is brilliantly defined and the ethereal and sugar coated vocals are just designed to make you shiver and swoon. Hear this once and it will take more than a half-life to shift. Building into a heady brew with everything combined and rocking out around the soaring backing vocals and whispering, mischievous lead ones this is simply storming. Violin courtesy of Bob Loveday brings a sort of New Model Army feel to ‘Indifference’ until those totally familiar Petit bass tones and gothic sounding guitars build over a huskier female vocal. It’s a song for swooning and swaying, gentle and dreamy.
Songs ebb and flow and take on different forms, they are a mixture that transcend genres adding touches of classic rock, occasional metallic licks, psychedelia, ethnic and world flourishes, progressive twists and turns and in the process cite one huge array of influences. I guess the only way to get the full credits of who does what on it are to buy the album after release. I must admit I would like to know who is responsible for what certainly with the vocals. You can guess at some of the guitar licks for me certain parts really remind of The Mission and as Simon Hinkler is on board I could take a stab in the dark that is him on ‘The Empty Space’. As for Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music I couldn’t even begin. One thing that is certain is that the lounge type slow burning soulful number ‘Hunger’ is just utterly majestic. At first I thought it was a really famous song being covered fantastically but it is in fact a song that should be incredibly famous in the future and one that everyone wants to cover. Just wow!
This is a perfect late night candle flickering album or one to soothe a heavy night on the tiles and it is one that I keep being drawn back to due to the excellent song-writing. Even numbers that do pick up and have the glow blooming into fiery bursts such as ‘The Tempest’ are so comfortable that you are more than happy to be swept up by them and carried along. Musically this one really does owe a huge amount to the aforementioned FOTN and it would really be fantastic and a complete no brainer to see The Eden House support them at some time in the future. ‘City Of Goodbyes’ is a song that I could easily imagine Anneke Van Giersbergen singing and whoever is doing the vocals on this one is equally as lush. As it moves into a muscular instrumental part I can’t help thinking this is the best song by The Gathering that is not actually by them! As for the closer ‘First Light’ what a cheeky girlie vocal start on this before full range is flung out hitting the rafters magnificently.
Can’t fault this and would not want to Half-Life is rather a special album and one that I am going to have real difficulty putting down due to its addictive draw. Next step, have to see them live.
(8.5/10 Pete Woods)