|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By: Miah & Eden's Way|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website: Eden's Way|
|Tracks: 13||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 54:18|
Knoxville, Tennessee is home to Eden’s Way, a group that can trace its history back to 2002 when it was founded by vocalist Dave Underwood. With its name coming about as a result of a vision Dave developed of the “beautiful and pure Garden of Eden”, Eden’s Way has performed dozens of shows throughout the Southeastern United states in addition to independently recording and releasing three albums. The group put out its self-titled debut in 2003 before following up a year later with the sophomore effort 4-4-1. Rock Solid, the most recent work from Eden’s Way, officially hit the shelves in 2006.
What we have in Eden’s Way is a blend of melodic metal, hard rock and arena rock heavily influenced by the eighties. The band can deliver some tasteful melodic rock and AOR moments as well. Direction comparisons include Stryper, Holy Soldier, Whitecross, Petra, Angelica, Guardian, Daniel Band and Bloodgood. More recent groups such as Letter 7, Mad Max, Incrave, Harmony and Laudamus also deserve mention.
Rock Solid finds Eden’s Way coming into its own. Up-tempo tracks such as “I’m On A Rock” and “Rock Solid” (two songs that can best be described as Christian metal anthems) stand out as does “Jesus Rush” (heavy groove on this one), the hook driven “Forever” and gritty “Come On Let’s Go”. But the band can deliver a quality mid-tempo piece as well. The melodic based “How Much Love” and semi ballad “One Chance” must be noted along with the blues influenced hard rock of “Trouble”. “Unto You” features many of those previously mentioned AOR moments while “Come” is a very well done acoustic laced ballad.
Dave Underwood brings a clean and even vocal style perfectly suited for the eighties based metal and hard rock presented by Eden’s Way. No, he might not have the talent of Rob Rock or Michael Sweet (Stryper) and he does exhibit a few shaky moments but, all around, performs solidly and proves a capable vocalist.
Guitar duties are divided between Brian Settle and co-producer Miah. The duo form a competent guitar team combining for lead work that reminds me of David Zaffiro (Bloodgood) and Tony Palacios (Guardian) at their best. Yes, the two are that good. If in doubt then just check out the intricate soloing on “I’m On the Rock” and “Rock Solid". The instrumental introduction to “How Can I Live” even features riffage that give rise to a Joe Satriani-like feel while “Trouble” is carried its distance by some red hot bluesy licks and chops.
Production values are not bad but could use some tightening up. While Eden’s Way has captured a near perfect rhythm guitar sound, the albums low end could have received the cleaner mix. To understand my point, compare the fidelity here to that on other independent offerings from Judah First (Devil’s Dice), TriPart (Beneath The Surface) and Letter 7 (Salt Of The Earth).
Introductory track “Ask Yourself” is driven its distance by narration joined with swirling keyboards and pounding drums.
“I’m On The Rock” kicks in at once to a driving guitar riff, the upbeat momentum maintained during its first verse and instrumental section upheld by a stretch of adeptly played lead guitar. The song repeats its second and final verse in the same vibrant manner. “I’m On The Rock” is aptly named:
I’m on the Rock
King of Kings, Lord of all the Lords
Why should we ask for more
Stand up and give Him praise (I’m on the Rock)
A more mid-tempo direction is taken on “How Much Love”. Showcasing a weighty rhythm guitar sound and chorus of the hook driven variety, this one is guaranteed to have you singing along in no time. More melodic based lead work helps put things over the top.
Up-tempo anthem “Rock Solid” brings all the qualities that make eighties metal so special: huge chorus hook, soaring lead vocals and a pull-out-all-the-stops guitar solo that would turn the head of Rex Carroll (Whitecross). Put this one on To Hell With The Devil and it would sound right at home. Ultimately, “Rock Solid” draws its lyrics from Matthew 7:24-27:
Rock solid, on the Rock
Rock solid, from bottom to the top
Rock solid, He’s reachin’ out His hand
Build on the rock, don’t build on the sand
And Rock solid
Things return to a mid-tempo heading with the semi-ballad “Once Chance”. The crisp rhythm guitar initiating things tapers to the background as the song reaches its first verse. As “Once Chance” picks up in pace, the rhythm guitar regains its initiative and leads the way to a melodic based chorus highlighted by vocal harmonies. Whitecross is the overall feeling I get here.
“Life After The Tomb” does not quite make the grade. While the song exudes an abundance of energy and upbeat impetus, it falls a bit flat due to lacking that extra element of inspiration – at least from a musical standpoint – the albums better material brings to the table. I cannot get into it; others might, though. Lyrically, “Life After The Tomb” points the way to salvation:
I was a dead man walking
That’s when I met this man
He said my love is real
So rise up and live
Life after the tomb, more for me and you
“Jesus Rush” is pretty good despite the cliché based title. Another up-tempo hard rocker, “Jesus Rush” delivers a ton of groove in bringing a stylish chorus – “Oh – whatcha need is a Jesus rush” – and another stretch of lead work on the electrifying side of things. Despite the platitudes involved, Eden’s Way does not fail to get the point across:
Don’t’ be tempted by the fruit of another tree
For the Bible speaks that one day
He will come for you and me
The album head in laid back melodic rock direction with “Unto You”. The song, with its big backing vocals and AOR-ish feel, brings to mind the old Angelica tune “One Step At A Time” (from the groups 1989 self-titled debut). And that is a very good thing. I find the emotional flavorings of “Unto You” – particularly reflected in the moving vocal delivery of Underwood – helps to keep me coming back time and again. The lyrics work as well:
Unto You, I give You every breath
Unto You, You know I’ll take every step
Unto You, I give You my love
For the love You’ve given me
Comes from above
I would rate the gritty, blues based rocker “Trouble” as the albums finest composition. Yes, I am a blues based hard rock fan – think prime Rez Band or the heavier material from Glenn Kaiser Band – so I might be a bit biased. But this one delivers all the goods with its down tuned and heavy feel and several runs of razor sharp lead work steeped in the blues.
The energetic “Forever” presents a bit of a play on words to Stryper’s classic “Together Forever” (from Soldiers Under Command). Things are spelled out during its hook-filled chorus: “Forever, together, forever, we will be. Forever, together, forever You and me.” Musically, Eden’s Way heads in an energetic hard rock direction similar to “Together Forever” but still establish its own unique musical flavorings (if anything, the song moves at the slower pace in comparison to “Together Forever”). The one similarity the two share, however, is a brazenly delivered guitar solo (sort of like Oz Fox). “Forever” proves a faith based piece:
So let me tell you a thing my friend
When trials come give it to Him
He turns the wrong into right
Temptations hard, I can’t explain
A sins a sin, it’s not a game
I want to see You in paradise
The heartfelt ballad “Come” brings an almost contemporary - if not praise and worship – feel. An acoustic guitar gracefully shores up the song during its verse portions before the rhythm guitar steps forward to drive its poignantly charged chorus. This one might be a bit formula but it works.
“Come On Let’s Go”, a driving hard rocker that proves the albums heaviest track, finds drummer Steve Workman taking on lead vocal duties with his gritty and low key sensibilities (at least in comparison to Underwood). The song is driven from front to back by a forward rhythm guitar, standing out with a rumbling chorus backed by deep vocal harmonies and its all out energetically driven momentum. “Come On Let’s Go” represents another track presenting the salvation message:
If you’re searchin’ for a reason
Get out of the cold
And change your season
Cause there only is one way
It’s Jesus Christ
Stop and listen for a minute
Slow down man
Cause there ain’t no limit
His love will make the wrong into right
“How Can I Live” starts to an instrumental introduction featuring some riffs that remind me of Joe Satriani (can you say Surfing With The Alien?). My initial thought is that this was going to be an instrumental piece but, alas, it was not meant to be in that the song soon transitions to a vocal based piece. Musically, I am a bit disappointed in that this one – a mid-tempo hard rocker – fails to grab my full attention. Perhaps it is the songs predictability, but things come across a bit plain for my taste.
I would like to close by stating that – despite a score of just 75% - Eden’s Way exhibits a ton of potential on Rock Solid. When at its best, the group can put together a strong composition and back it with able vocals and musicianship. There are, however, a few areas of improvement worth noting. First, the album could have been a bit more consistent (Rock Solid, a 13 song effort, includes a few filler tracks). With that in mind, I would like to encourage the group to go with their nine or ten best songs the next time around. Second, the production – while far from bad – could have been improved upon. Finally, am I out of line to suggest that Eden’s Way steer clear of the cliché based song titles (“I’m On A Rock”, “Rock Solid” and “Jesus Rush”)?
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Ask Yourself” (2:41), “I’m On A Rock” (3:20), “How Much Love” (3:40), “Rock Solid” (3:29), “One Chance” (5:51), “Life After The Tomb” (3:40), “Jesus Rush” (4:09), “Unto You” (3:51), “Trouble” (6:13), “Forever” (4:11), “Come” (4:47), “Come On Let’s Go” (4:06), “How Can I Live” (4:21)
Dave Underwood – Lead Vocals, Bass & Keyboards
Brian Settle – Guitars
Drums – Steve Workman
Miah - Guitars
Also Reviewed: Eden's Way - IV