Cards on the table here folks, my next landmark birthday is 50, and it is far too few years ago for comfort, and for the best part of four decades, ever since first finding Cream’s ‘Goodbye’ in my mother’s record collection, hard rock, and then heavy metal has been an unshakeable companion. However, despite teenage years seeing me constantly wrapped in a Motorhead shirt, or a some tour wear from one of those new thrash bands like Metallica (just think on that, Metallica when they were new!), and an uninterrupted dedication to head-banging in the intervening years, my all time favourite album is Genesis ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’. Yep, I love a bit of Prog and will be heading to the 2017 tour that sees Messrs. Wakeman and Anderson back on the road together. As such, especially with their confessed influences, I was looking forward to Edensong’s ‘Years In The Garden of Years’, a title that screams pure Prog almost as much as the punning record label name of “The Laser’s Edge”. With those credentials, what could go wrong?
‘Cold City’ opens the album in suitably epic style, massively swirling keyboard sounds, virtuoso guitar work, and flute lines scurrying and hurrying between complex rhythms from the bass and drums, all supporting clean vocals with lyrics that speak of a vocabulary far beyond that of the average X-factor manufactured pop machine. Yep, this is Prog rock, with a thoroughly deserved upper case “P”. Then comes the self described “A Temporal Song Cycle”, ‘Years In The Garden Of Years’, an eight song interconnected opus, starting with the instrumental ‘End Times In Retrospect’, complete with added cello, and more time changes than a Southern Rail train schedule. And herein the problem arises; this album is almost too Prog. Clearly the band love Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson, and pay homage to those giants of the genre in so far as it starts to sound as if the record is a compilation of samples lifted from the back catalogues of those acts. A bit of Tony Banks keyboard here, some Robert Fripp guitar licks there, a smattering of Ian Anderson’s flute, some thunderously complex Chris Squire bass, all are thrown into the mix and performed with an undoubted virtuosity, but an almost indefinable something is missing, as each of the songs didn’t really have their own unique identity, but rather harked back to the work of others, making my mind wander and make me want to dive into a ‘Topographic Ocean’ rather than endure ‘Years In A Garden Of Years’. Even adding in some folksy, even Jethro Tull-esque flurries into ‘The Hollowed’ couldn’t keep my attention on the album, and whilst a great Prog album will have me drifting away and not realising how much time has passed by the end of the record and having me reaching for the replay button, Edensong had me constantly looking at the timer on the player and checking my watch.
I hate to be so negative about such skilled musicians as clearly make up Edensong, and their undoubted proficiency in their chosen instruments is what has made me boost the score for the album, but having “Years” and “Years” in the album title was horribly prophetic; listening to the album, something I did repeatedly at different times just to make sure it wasn’t a case of me just not being in the mood before writing this review, just became a bit of a slog. By the time album closer ‘Yawn of a Blink’ came around I was indeed yawning and blinking, never a good sign. I’ve no doubt that if given to a more Prog orientated site than Ave Noctum it may well have earnest men in sandals stroking their beards in utter joy, but it really did not hit the mark for me. Oh well, ‘Supper’s Ready’, so time to send this to the editor.