Edensong – Years in the Garden of Years
Edensong – “Years in the Garden of Years” (2016)
Release Date: Sept 30th, 2016
Label: Laser’s Edge
Throughout the 16 years Ytsejam.com has been in operation we’ve received thousands of albums to review, both from signed and unsigned bands. With such a large influx of music it can become very difficult to give a fair review to every submission, whether it is due to time constraints on our staff, efforts that just aren’t on par with their contemporaries in the progressive rock realm or the sheer burnout one can get from listening to so many albums of similar style. But every-now-and-again an album comes along that reawakens our spirit for this music we love, progressive rock.
This was exactly the case when in 2008 an unsigned band by the name of Edensong submitted their self-released, debut album “The Fruit Fallen” (TFF). TFF, on first listen really caught my attention and stood apart from the rest of the albums that were littering my desk. So much so that despite not having the time to fully digest it at the time, I immediately set it aside in the pile of CDs intended for a second listen. When I finally got around to listening to the entire album, I found myself wanting to give it another spin, then another…and yet another. I was so enamored with this album I started writing my review with the following line: “Edensong have created a progressive rock masterpiece on their first attempt.”
Eight years later I still stand by that statement. TFF has found a home in my personal playlist, a compilation of albums that have made an impact on me and never get old, and it has gotten at least one full spin a month, every month, since I wrote that line. Yet, every time I have listened to the album over the years I have been left wanting more from Edensong. Sure there was the 2010 release “Echoes of Edensong” EP which contained a new studio recording of a song that was written prior to TFF, and a handful of remastered and live tracks which were very good, but I wanted, no, I yearned for a complete album of new songs that, I hoped, would show a natural progression of growth and musicianship. Well it took another six years of waiting, but I got it. Oh boy, did I ever.
The year is 2016 and I finally have in my possession a copy of Edensong “Years in the Garden of Years” (YITGOY) and it’s everything I could have hoped for and more. My 2008 review TFF stated the album contained “Masterful songwriting, intelligent thoughtful lyrics, beautiful melody and harmony…” and I’m happy to say that nothing has changed in that department. The songs are wonderfully written, consistently interesting and the album as a whole is tied together by recurring themes that run throughout.
The instrumentation from TFF is still there as well, guitars, bass, drums, percussion and keys interplay masterfully with impressive flute and stringed instrumentation. Then we have the lead vocals of James Byron Schoen, whose voice and ability to convey the meaning of, and the emotion behind, the lyrics are better than ever, and the harmonies and backing vocals on YITGOY are even more impressive and captivating.
What has changed is the level of overall musicianship and composition of the songs. Edensong have stepped up their game without detracting from anything that made them stand out from the pack on TFF. Where TFF was mostly James’ baby, YITGOY is a collaborative effort from the band and yet it still maintains that “Edensong” sound and feel. The songs on this album are more “progressive” and some have a slightly heavier edge to them while others retain the almost ethereal and atmospheric beauty I came to love from the last album. The highlights start with the opening track “Cold City”, a surprising but welcome semi-departure from the music I’ve come to love from Edensong. The “prog” is turned up on this track and the vocal arrangements are inspiring. “Cold City” is a great opening track to let the listener know that not only has the band grown musically, and that they are in for a treat.
Along with the opening track there are a few other tracks that tie the album together in the same vein as “Cold City”, with recurring themes and the same level of progressive fortitude and vocal arrangements, “Down the hours”, “The Atman Apocalypse” and the perfect closing track “Yawn of a Blink”. The instrumentals “End Times in Retrospect” and “Chronos” really showcase the musicianship of the band and what they all bring to the table creating perfect interludes for the album.
The track “In the Longest of Days” sneaks up on you. While it may not exactly stand out on first listen, you’ll soon find yourself singing it, even when it’s not playing. Then there are tracks that are “classic Edensong” like “The Hollowed”. Everything I loved about “The Fruit Fallen” is on full display on “The Hollowed” while still showing a natural growth as a band, all the emotion, melody and harmony are all present here. Then there are the twins, a pair of tracks “Generations” and “Regenerations” that are just plain beautiful. Be sure to listen to these with earphones and just take them in.
Edensong’s “Years in the Garden of Years” is truly a more-than-worthy successor to “The Fruit Fallen” in every way and it will also have a permanent home in my personal playlist for years to come.
Review: 10 out of 10