|Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2016||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 44:04|
Those looking to add an eighties influenced melodic hard rock album to their collection have just been presented with an all new option: the November of 2016 independent fifth full length release from Eden’s Way, Can’t Get Enough. The last time we heard from the Knoxville, Tennessee based act was 2008 and its appropriately entitled fourth album IV, a work that ‘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’ (noting the 80% Angelic Warlord review). On Rock Solid, its third full-length offering from 2006, Eden’s Way ‘(exhibited) a ton of potential’ and proves that ‘(when) at its best, can put together a strong composition and back it with able vocals and musicianship’ (75% review). The group’s first two albums, Eden’s Way and Four For One from 2003 and 2004, respectively, fell beneath the Angelic Warlord radar.
In comparison to previous albums, Eden’s Way is taking the more accessible heading on Can’t Get Enough with a sound rooted in melodic rock/AOR and gritty hard rock but steeped with a strong blues based mentality. Factored out of the equation in the process, and accept this as a neutral observation and not a critique, are many of the heavier metal infused aspects inherent to Rock Solid and IV. I cannot help but be reminded of a similar transition Bloodgood made between the guitar driven sounds of Out Of The Darkness (1989) and more commercial inclining of subsequent release All Stand Together (1992). In no way is my intent to compare Eden’s Way to Bloodgood, but rather I am attempting to reinforce the musical progression it has made the past eight years. That being said, if into contemporaries such as Angelica, Guardian, Whitecross, Shout and Bride then I can see Eden’s Way easily being of taste.
One constant to Eden’s Way is turnover within its line up between albums and Can’t Get Enough proves no exception. Departed from the IV roster is guitarist Jacob Veal, bassist Scott Atchley and drummer Steve Workman, with guitarist Alan Lenderman, drummer John Hill and bassist Richard Robert’s their Can’t Get Enough counterparts. Lone holdover remains founding member and vocalist Dave Underwood. With five albums under his belt, Underwood proves himself a seasoned performer within melodic metal and hard rock circles with a signature gritty and soulful style that meshes perfectly with the groups newfound blues heavy sentiments. In again reinforcing my IV review, ‘he continues to put in a consistent, well rounded and professional’ performance.
Can’t Get Enough features some of Eden’s Way’s finest material to date, with the eight year break between albums giving the group ample opportunity to polish and hone its new material. Albums opening title track shines in this capacity, a full-bore arena rocker with chanted backing vocals at the start, groove driven and upbeat momentum throughout and anthem-like refrain that touches upon the exhilarating. What I hear in “Can’t Get Enough” is the bluesy backbone of Bride joined at the hip with some soulful swagger not unlike Whitecross.
“Take Me To The River” represents a joining of the blues driven and commercial. Several seconds of snarling guitars get things underway before the song makes an abrupt transition to the flowing pop flavored essence of its verses. As initiative gradually builds, “Take Me To The River” explodes for its heartfelt chorus in which the guitars at the start reassert themselves fixed and firm.
“Make A Choice” further expands upon the commercial elements. The song takes pleasure in its abundant guitar harmonies and resounding bass driven groove (courtesy of Richard Roberts), but ultimately puts itself over the top with the non-stop hooks of a chorus that in another era would challenge for play on FM radio. Yes, this one is accessible although not to a fault (think in terms of In God We Trust era Stryper but with a bit more guitar driven attitude).
On “Want Some” Eden’s Way digs deep with a straight on seventies hard rocking sound with a decisive bluesy aesthetic. Residing in gritty and course mid-tempo territory, “Want Some” aligns ample doses of heavy set backing vocals with the staunch backbone provided by John Hill’s aggressive timekeeping. Similar to “Can’t Get Enough”, there are hints of Bride here but without forsaking the Eden’s Way penchant for the melodic.
Four strong cuts into the album and it becomes apparent the choice work of Alan Lenderman, whose guitar wizardry consists of tight harmonies and sweeping riffs but also frequents accelerated to bluesy soloing territory. He continues a tradition of fine Eden’s Way lead guitarists in this regard, which consists of the previously referenced Jacob Veal but also Rock Solid guitarist Brian Settle.
Can’t Get Enough takes a slight step back on “Hungry”, a straight on melodic hard rocker that might not deliver the same creative hooks as its four predecessors but is still good all the same. Guitars take a lighter tone in comparison to some here while mirthful momentum reflects upon a pop basis. Underwood particularly stands out with his laid back and soulful flavorings for the ‘Hungry-hungry for Your love. Hungry-hungry for Your touch’ refrain.
Albums second half starts to one of its stronger tracks, “Riding For Jesus”. With shuffling bass leading the way, the song rollicks from front to back in emanating a decided Southern flair in terms of the guitar tones and catchy groove driven essences that will have you tapping your toes in no time. This is a fun a piece to listen too as you will find.
As with any band that draws upon on eighties hard rock sound, Eden’s Way proves itself adept at composing a quality power ballad and “My Love” is no exception. A joining of acoustic and distinct rhythm guitars, “My Love” comes across as a heavy rocking power ballad as opposed to the overproduced and commercial kind, which allows it to better hold up under repeat play (this is the type of ballad Whitecross should have been recording all along). Of note is how the song finds Underwood exhibiting a softer and more tempered side to his vocal abilities. Lenderman’s soloing perfectly complements with its bluesy feel.
Back to hard rock territory with “In Him”, a non-stop slugger and mauler in which battering guitars and uncompromising mid-paced swagger play decided roles. Albums heaviest track shines with intermittent cowbell, courtesy of Hill, which gives it a classic hard rock feel (sort of like Rez Band). The bass guitar solo at the end of the instrumental section helps make “In Him” this reviewer’s choice cut.
Album closes to two of its stronger numbers in “Tell Him” and “Shout And Sing”. Former plays up the bluesy qualities even further, laid back and reserved with powerful guitars driving the verses but every bit melodic as chorus successfully strives for and obtains the commercial. I cannot help but detect a hint of seventies influenced classic rock flowing throughout this one.
Latter ups energy levels exponentially as a return to an up-tempo heading. A joyful pop-based essence correspondingly defines “Shout And Sing” - the catchy hooks are unmistakable - while still playing up the Eden’s Way penchant for the heavier rocking. Also helping set the song apart is a light worshipful flair, as can be found in the uplifting ‘shout and sing and lift up His holy name. Shout and song and give Him all the glory’ refrain. In the end, “Shout And Sing” proves a fine ending to quite the solid album.
Lone problematic area is production, which while far from bad could use the tightening a dose of big budget polish might provide. On one hand, bass and drums stand out cleanly in the mix; on the other, rhythm guitars could deliver a bit more punch and muscle. That being said, it must be noted how Eden’s Way faced some challenges when recording the album in that at the midway point it had to switch studios (albums first six tracks were recorded at Vital Signs Studio and final four at The Sound Lair).
Eden’s Way, drawing its name from a vision Underwood developed of ‘the beautiful and pure Garden of Eden”, takes every opportunity to make its faith known in its prose. Consider “In Him” in that capacity -
When I was lost I had no way
They tried to tell me about some grace
That came from a man who died for me
They told me that I’d live again and
That His blood covered my sins
And that my soul would be free
That’s when I understood
That He died for me and you
That’s when I asked forgiveness
For all I’ve done
- in addition to “Tell Him”:
You’ve been searchin’ for forgiveness
And you’ve seemed to have lost your way
You’ve been driving around in
Darkness night and day
All the people who you’ve trusted
Have seemed to have let you down
There’s nowhere to turn to upon this earth
But to a man of virgin birth
“My Love” builds upon the theme:
There’ll come a day you have to choose
Search your heart what will you do
My forgiveness makes you free
You know I’ll never change
You can have my love today
Open your heart and let me in
I come before You my Lord and King
I give you my heart
I give you everything
“Shout And Sing” takes a worshipful tone:
As he hung on the cross he thought of us
As He said Father forgive them
Well the blood he shed for our souls
He bleeds for forgiveness for our sins
On the third day the stone was rolled away
So that we can belong to Him
Shout and sing and lift up His holy name
Shout and sing and give Him all the glory
Can’t Get Enough is by far my favorite Eden’s Way album, with a good measure of its success attributed to the groups newfound musical direction that mixes bluesy sensibilities with a melodic hard rock basis. It also points to higher levels of consistency in that whereas some tracks stand out better than others there is nothing I skip over either. As with past releases, the new Eden’s Way line up holds its own musicianship wise in fitting well within the musical framework at hand. Likewise, David Underwood continues to mature and grow as a front man. Production could use some improving but it does not ruin the listening experience either. Fans of melodic rock and hard rock in all their forms are strongly recommended to check out Can’t Get Enough.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Can’t Get Enough” (3:54), “Take Me To The River” (3:53), “Make A Choice” (4:52), “Want Some” (4:21), “Hungry” (4:18), “Riding For Jesus” (4:02), “My Love” (4:57), “In Him” (4:25), “Tell Him” (4:12), “Shout And Sing” (5:12)
David Underwood - Lead Vocals & Guitar
Alan Lenderman - Lead Guitar
Richard Roberts - Bass
John Hill - Drums