|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By: MiAH & Eden's Way|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2009||Artist Website: Eden's Way|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 54:41|
The English idiom “practice makes perfect” is another way of saying “the more that you practice, the better that you will become”. In other words, if you want to improve upon yourself, then you should practice as much as possible. That would be the best way to describe how Knoxville, Tennessee based Eden’s Way has made steps and strides in its seven year existence. It is without a doubt a significant amount of practice (and hard work) went behind the progress the group made from its debut release, a 2003 self-titled offering, to its fourth full length album from 2009, the aptly entitled IV.
IV delivers the potential Eden’s Way hinted at – but could not quite achieve – on its previous releases by reflecting growth in the key areas of songwriting, lead vocals and production.
While IV showcases Eden’s Way trademark blending of eighties influences melodic metal, hard rock and melodic rock, the album finds the band putting its best foot forward songwriting wise by cutting all filler tracks and going with its best material. Yes, some songs are better than others but you cannot say that top of the line pieces such as the rumbling “Everybody Wants Him”, boogie flavored “Tough Love”, hook-laden “Jesus Is His Name”, determined “All For Love” and diverse “Fight” are as good as it gets for the genre. Other songs deserving mention include the high energy “Shout”, vocal harmony driven “I Live For You” and ballad “All I Need”.
David Underwood presents with a mid-ranged but clean vocal style hinting at occasional touches of grit. As stated in my review of the bands previous work, Rock Solid, he might not bring the range of Rob Rock or Michael Sweet (Stryper) but perfectly suits the music at hand. That said, the “practice makes perfect” theme comes to life here in that Underwood has managed to shake off all uneven moments in his delivery and comes through with a performance I might describe as consistent, well rounded and professional.
Eden’s Way experienced a bit of turnover since Rock Solid, recruiting a new guitarist in Jacob Veal (who replaced the departed Brian Settle) in addition to bringing in bassist Scott Atchley (Underwood previously handled bass guitar duties). Veal proves himself a capable player with a style occasionally hinting at David Zaffiro of Bloodgood (check out his lead work on “I Live For You”) while Atchley and drummer Steve Workman anchor the low end (I particularly enjoy how Atchley’s bass rises above the mix).
Upgrades are made in the area of production as well. No, you will not find any big budget polish here; however, for an independent release IV features production values as solid as they get.
Opening to a ringing telephone that transitions to a wall of screaming guitars, “Shout” stands out with its non-stop hook filled chorus - “You know you gotta shout/Cry out to Him/That’s where it all begins” – and vibrant momentum that carries its distance. A bass guitar solo opens an instrumental section upheld by a brazen guitar solo. What we end up with is a song that captures the spirit of early Stryper- both musically and lyrically:
Take the time to choose what’s right
Accept His grace
That’s why He died
His blood’s for you
If you fall He’s by your side
Don’t give up
Hold your head up high
He will heal your wounds
The keyboards and punchy bass lines introducing “Everybody Wants Him” soon give way to an anthem-like rhythm guitar. Plowing through its verses with the rhythm guitar plunging in and out of the mix, the song evens out prior to a catchy chorus backed by deep and resonant backing vocals. Initiative abruptly picks up of for an instrumental section in which an ardent guitar solo leads the way.
The mid-paced “I Live For You” delivers a melodic based sound. With polished backing vocals sustaining its distance, the song puts in place an environs bordering on the regal- all the while delivering the needed amount of guitar driven initiative. A stretch of the albums best lead guitar brings to mind David Zaffiro (Bloodgood). The lyrics here are as every bit as decisive as the music:
You have a place
Where I could run away
Don’t have to run and hide
I just call upon Your name
You come to my needs
And give me everything
The ballad “All I Need” maintains the mid-paced heading. Low-key during its verses, in which keyboards play a prominent role, but making the more pronounced statement for its bridge and chorus, due to a crisp rhythm guitar stepping forward, the song represents as fine a ballad as you will find. Underwood brings a complementary poignant approach on lead vocals.
A boogie-flavored hard rock approach is taken on “Tough Love”, a high energy piece that brings to mind Whitecross’ “Good Enough” (from In The Kingdom in 1991) and Stryper’s “Can’t Stop The Rock” (off the 1991 compilation of the same title). Four minutes of upbeat energy, the song highlights a near perfect melding of frenetic guitar riffs and pulsating drums. Husky backing vocals sustain its driving chorus. “Tough Love” talks about exactly that:
He’s for the weak
He’s for the strong
He died for you
He stood alone
Rose from the grave
He’s here for you
It’s not too late
His love is strong and it comes from above
“It’s All About Him” maintains the albums consistency. Heading in a more laid back direction (at least in comparison to the one preceding it), the song proves a straightforward and no-frills melodic rocker in which the bands heavy duty backing vocals again make their presence felt. A near perfect mix of rhythm guitar adds to the driving scene.
The AOR influenced “Messiah” borders on semi-ballad territory. Crisply laced with an acoustic guitar, the song highlights emotional touches as it flows through its resolute verse portions on the way to a captivating chorus. I can see Petra or Sweet Crystal performing something like this. “Messiah” comes across in the form of a plea:
Messiah, we need you now more than every before
He’s on the other side so open the door
And we will sing unto your name
In our darkest hour we call His name
When we’re on top of the world
We turn Him away like water on fire to put out the flames
Now is the time we must remember His name
He is the Alpha Omega, the last and the first
“Jesus Is His Name” brings a hook that just won’t quit. A bass guitar solo gets the song underway before a hammering rhythm guitar kicks in. Charging ahead in rumbling fashion, “Jesus Is His Name” peaks as it obtains a chorus in which a dark and swarthy environs is put into place. Another run of tireless lead guitar stands out as well.
“All For Love” will also pull you in with its gripping melody. The song jumps out of the gate at an upbeat tempo only to decelerate to a bass guitar at the start of its first verse. Drifting ahead with the rhythm guitar maneuvering in and out of the mix, “All For Love” peaks as it obtains a chorus put over the top by the steadfast manner in which it is delivered. “All For Love” talks about taking a stand:
Don’t you know that you gotta make a stand
The Bible says don’t be ashamed
You gotta stand tall
Don’t turn Him away
All for love
Take it easy, take it slow
You’ve gotta walk after you crawl
Just keep it simple
Don’t make it hard
Don’t try to pass when you know it’s wrong
“Fight” ends the album strongly. Showcasing a joining of pumping bass lines and funky guitars but with hard rocking propensities, this one allows Eden’s Way to put its creativity on full display. Heavy duty backing vocals once more make their presence felt while Underwood adds some low key grit to his vocal delivery.
Actually, a “hidden” ten minute bonus track (untitled and not listed in the albums packaging) closes things out. The song is divided into three parts: the first three and a half minutes are taken up by the title track to the groups 2006 release Rock Solid (a very good anthem-like hard rocker) and the next four silence. The final minutes feature a country and western themed version of “It’s All About Him” that you will have to hear in order to believe.
Give credit to Eden’s Way for the progressive it has made over the years. Yes, “practice makes perfect” (and all the hard work that goes along with it) has paid off with the end result being by far the groups finest effort to date. Consistent in terms of both songwriting and performance, IV is certain to appeal to fans of all forms of metal and hard rock.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Shout” (3:55), “Everybody Wants Him” (4:49), “I Live For Him” (4:28), “All I Need” (5:14), “Tough Love” (3:46), “It’s All About Him” (3:31), “Messiah” (4:12), “Jesus Is His Name” (4:06), “All For Love” (4:32), “Fight” (3:55), “Untitled” (10:14)
David Underwood – Lead Vocals
Jacob Veal – Guitars
Scott Atchley – Bass
Steve Workman – Drums
Also Reviewed: Eden’s Way – Rock Solid