A new name to me, Edensong hail from NYC and their sole full-length work to date is 2008's self-released 'The Fruit Fallen'. Eight years later, we now have their sophomore offering in the form of 'Years in the Garden of Years'. There's some genuinely good music here in its retro, folky prog stylings. However, it also succumbs to being little more than prog-by-numbers on occasion. Listen no further than album opener 'Cold City' for a blast of prog genericism. And it lapses into bland, dull territory all too often.
A selling point of the album is stipulated as: "cross over appeal to prog and metal fanbase". Hmmm... it's indubitable that most metallers' listening proclivities are wide ranging in stylistic diversity; a corollary of the genre's fragmented nature, where metal has increasingly incorporated styles from a such a vast range of other musical forms over the years. In this sense, a large number of metallers certainly enjoy their prog, although I'm not sure as to the claim that 'Years in the Garden of Years' has crossover appeal to both prog and metal fans in a more general sense. This bias of the album is most definitely prog. Sure, some heavy guitars are thrown into the mix, but this is so far from anyone's conception of what metal might be, even in the loosest, generic conception of the scene.
There are some great vocals to be heard on 'Years in the Garden of Years', although the gentle, fragile, folk-edged tones, with little variance, do become a little monotonous after a while, and lack any great degree of emotional depth in their delivery. The instrumentations seem to be wide-ranging in their ambition although don't always hit the mark. A definite positive is that there's some solid, if not always mindblowing, musicianship, and there are some good compositions in there somewhere, but you have to work hard to appreciate each song's potential. And the potential is most certainly there; it's just buried in a peculiar mix. Oh yes, the mix and production of the album... hmmm...
Press blurb boasts of 'Years in the Garden of Years: "audiophile precision by grammy winning engineer Bob Katz". This might be so but, to my ears, the production is just okay, and certainly not great. The album has a warm, analogue sound but with an overly cluttered mix where, at times, each of the disparate elements in the instrumentations don't seem to gel as well as they should. 'End Times in Retrospect' is a perfect example of this, where the track's instrumental nature is stripped of any great degree of cohesion; the subpar mix makes it sound like a bunch of players jamming against, rather than with, each other. It becomes ambiguous whether Edensong have been over-zealous in fleshing out their compositions with too many elements and no mix would suffice, or the mix just falls plain short in what should be its unifying purpose. It's even worse through headphones, as certain instruments have a bias through either the left or right channel, making the whole thing sound even more jarring and disjointed. So, yes, "audiophile precision" by Bob Katz might've very well been true, but the mix is just horrible.
Overall, 'Years in the Garden of Years' all too often treads the ground of easy-listening folk-prog banality. Above average, for sure, but there's little about Edensong that has the "wow" factor. However, if you like the idea of an unchallenging, clichéd plodder, and are prepared to listen past, and forgive, a far from perfect mix, then maybe you'll get a lot more out of 'Years in the Garden of Years' than I did.
The Laser's Edge
YEARS IN THE GARDEN OF YEARS
Review by Mark Holmes
30th Sept 2016
1) Cold City
2) End Times in Retrospect
3) In the Longest of Days
4) The Hollowed
5) Down the Hours
8) The Atman Apocalypse
10) Yawn of a Blink
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...treads the ground of easy-listening folk-prog banality. Above average, for sure, but there's little about Edensong that has the "wow" factor."