|Musical Style: Progressive Metal||Produced By: Images Of Eden|
|Record Label: Nightmare||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website: Images Of Eden|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 95%|
|Running Time: 55:04|
Images Of Eden started out as a one man project led by Gordon Tittsworth. Chapter 1, the appropriately entitled 2001 debut of Images Of Eden, found Gordon handling nearly all aspects of the recording, including songwriting, lead vocals, rhythm and lead guitar, bass and keyboards. With guitarist Dennis Mullin and drummer Matt Kaiser later rounding out its line up, Images Of Eden returned to the studio and in 2005 recorded the progressive metal of its sophomore effort Sunlight Of The Spirit. The end result is a work in which Images Of Eden puts the progressive in the progressive metal in no uncertain terms, delivering a technical and complex but creative sound that, for a lack of better words, is not your typical “verse-chorus-verse” variety. The likes of “Beyond The Horizon” and “Midnight’s Tide”, for example, stand out with their intricate time changes while the immaculate “Dream-Catcher” almost comes across Kansas-like in capacity. The bands most notable effort, however, has to be its fourteen minute title track, a three part epic consisting of “Emerald Rain”, “I Remember When” and “Through October Skies”. “Kaleidoscope” and “Aladdin”, on the other hand, demonstrate that Images Of Eden can compose a number moving in a more straightforward hard rock direction as well.
Gordon Tittsworth proves the centerpiece behind the group in contributing a vocal style that is emotional and powerful while heavy on the vibrato at the same time. The most accurate comparisons I might make would be to other progressive vocalists such as Mike Baker (Shadow Gallery), Gary Belin (Stride) or Leon Ozug (Ascension Theory). The albums keyboard duties, capably handled by Gordon and Dennis Mullin, reflect just the right amount of symphonic touch but when moved to a forward place in the mix on “Dream-Catcher” and “Midnight’s Tide” they still enhance without coming across overriding. Dennis delivers an abundance of edge flavored riffs on rhythm guitar, some mid-tempo and others fast paced, and delicately interlaces them with acoustic passages and interludes whenever needed. His soloing abilities, of course, help enhance the bands instrumental sound which is best put on display on “Dream-Catcher”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Midnight’s Tide”.
Production values, polished and meticulously done, are quite laudable in allowing all the instrumentation to rise above the mix.
Gordon, who in the liner notes thanks “my Higher Power (God), composed the albums lyrics which begin where Chapter 1 leaves off. While Chapter 1 deals with putting the past behind and starting brand new, the focus of Sunlight Of The Spirit is living your life the best you can, seizing the day and making it happen and you’ll see the reward come in turn. So the best way to describe the message here would be positive, hopeful and upbeat.
“Ascension” is an instrumental album opener carried its brief (:48) distance by keyboards.
Immediately kicking in fast and heavy to a hard hitting riff, “Kaleidoscope” evens out upon reaching its first verse as it glides its way to a flowing chorus highlighted by an ethereal touch of vocal harmonies. The hard hitting riff at the start of the song returns to shore up a fleeting instrumental section.
The enticing progressiveness of “Beyond The Horizon” commences slowly to a lush blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards. The song proceeds to transition between verses sustained by a quietly played guitar line and brief passages conveyed by a hard rocking rhythm guitar, the scene not evening out until an instrumental section enhanced by a stretch of fluid lead guitar work is obtained. The intense manner in which the subsequent chorus is delivered will pull you in and refuse to let go. Lyrically, “Beyond The Horizon” deals with making your own opportunities and not fretting over things out of your control:
What were you hoping for?
What were you waiting for?
Did you think your dreams would just find you and take you away?
Don’t tear yourself apart over things out of your control
Time passes so fast you’ll wonder where your life went
Too much wasted time holding on to yesterday
“To Live Another Day” quickly jumps out of the gate to a crisp sounding rhythm guitar only to abruptly decelerate for a slowly moving passage carried in a calm and tranquil fashion. Picking up in pace as the rhythm guitar returns with the needed amount of edge, an up-tempo setting is put in place as the song acquires a fleeting chorus giving rise to an uplifting resonance.
“Dream-Catcher” is a moody but melody filled eight minute progressive rock masterpiece that brings to mind early Kansas. The song begins to a delicate blend of piano and orchestration as Gordon sings narration composed by William Blake:
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour…
Breaking out with an abundance of symphonic impetus as the rhythm guitar forces its way into the mix, the song advances through its first verse at a catchy mid-tempo pace before decelerating even further for the second. The ensuing keyboard driven instrumental section leads the way to an acoustic laced passage with lyrics coming across hope based in their capacity:
Heaven sent a miracle
Your destiny lies in your hands
Don’t let it slip away
Heaven sent the world to you
Passion lies within your soul
Don’t throw it all away
Heaven sent love for you
Open your heart, don’t pass it by
This could be the last time
Heaven sent life for you
But you can’t seem to find
Your peace of mind
The acoustic guitar continues to make its presence felt for a chorus giving rise to a compelling melody of the refuse to go away variety. Both keyboard and guitar solos lead the way through an extensive instrumental section. Very creative number with a message that can best be summed up in the following line:
You’ll never be in Heaven without going through Hell
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opens acoustically to its first verse only to pick up in pace for the second. Moving forward at a more upbeat tempo once the rhythm guitar steps forward, an atmospheric scene is established as the song smoothly flows to a decisive chorus resonating a plethora of hook filled ambience. I enjoy how the song makes a time change to a lengthy instrumental section highlighted by a gritty guitar solo.
“Aladdin”, with its bluesy and hard rocking vibe, ranks among the albums heavier compositions. The song fades in to guitar feedback before a snarling rhythm guitar takes over the mix, the energetic momentum sustained as it moves forward to an exalted chorus in which a sublime setting is put into place. A fiery guitar solo holds sway over a vibrant instrumental section.
The albums ambitious title track is a three part epic dealing with not living in the past but carrying the past with you – learning from it and turning a negative into a positive in the process - and being made whole today.
Orchestration slowly gets “Emerald Rain” underway as pouring rain decorates the background. Gradually moving through its first and second verse with an acoustic guitar interlacing with the orchestration, the song pauses for a fleeting chorus before guitar feedback sustains its haunting third verse. The driving rhythm guitar that recoils into the mix closes out “Emerald Rain” in purposeful fashion. The message here focuses on getting yourself into a better place and knowing that anything bad that had happened to you is only making you stronger:
I remember what once was and what I can’t be again
It’s so hard daydreaming, knowing you can’t go back
I’ve been trying and reaching to relive our yesterdays
But they only live within our minds
Life brings us change, nothing remains the same
Tomorrow brings a new while the past fades away
I still can’t help holding on to what was lost
Hoping that one day I’ll be whole again
“I Remember When”, the heavier of the songs three parts, embarks to a drum solo that is soon underscored by a snarling rhythm guitar, the steadfast backdrop held up for the muscular verse portions in which the songs title is continually repeated. Gordon’s smooth sounding vocal delivery highlights the emotionally charged chorus that follows:
Memories no one can ever take away
Even though time has changed the world around me
Memories no one can ever take away
They’re not gone. No, they’re not gone
The pace picks up as “I Remember When” transitions to an instrumental section shouldered by a searing guitar solo. In the end, the meaning conveyed is being made whole again:
Now I’m serene and I’ve found peace
I am whole now and ready to start again
The piano closing out “I Remember When” leads the way to part three, the semi ballad “Through October Skies”. After an acoustic guitar gently holds sway over the songs first minute, it picks up in pace as it acquires an arresting chorus fused with just the right amount of edgy rhythm guitar. “Through October Skies” talks about putting the past behind and living in the now:
So strong and able to move on to live again today
To live another way, now with a clear mind
Yesterday was the last time before the pain had died
But today I’m alive, with the past far behind
“Ethereal” is a short but appropriately named instrumental sustained by an amalgamation of piano and keyboards.
The album closes to the immaculate eleven minute epic “Midnight’s Tide”. Progressive rock at its very best, “Midnight’s Tide” is a highly complex, highly technical and highly creative number that transverses a literal labyrinth of time changes, verses and choruses, bridges and instrumental passages that, for a lack of better words, would be near impossible to describe. So, instead of overwhelming you with an overabundance of detail, the best way to summarize would be to state that the song, despite its length, easily holds up under a copious melody while allowing the band to showcase the strength of its instrumental sound. An ambient instrumental section featuring a blend of keyboards and quietly played guitar, for example, closes out the albums final four minutes. The theme here is forgiving yourself for your past mistakes and, while knowing you cannot change the past, the importance of moving on and making it the best you can:
I can feel your pain like it was yesterday
But don’t you be afraid
It will not last forever
I can tell you nothing more
For I would change what will be
Just know that one day,
All of your pain will end
And you will be free…
Addendum: December 15, 2006
The following e-mail was recently received from Gordon Tittsworth in regards to my review of Sunlight Of The Spirit:
Thanks for the excellent review!! It’s really refreshing to read a very thorough review like this and to see that you put a lot of thought and research behind it. I’ve read a lot of reviews and some are apparent that the listener didn’t even listen to the entire CD.
This type of review sets the standards for all reviewers, in my opinion. I wish all reviewers were all as thorough and took the time to really “listen” to the CD. You present a very clear description of the CD as well as probably the most accurate interpretation of the concept behind the album. It would be nice to see others learn from your work. Thanks for taking the time to really get to know our music!!!
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Ascension” (:48), “Kaleidoscope” (3:17), “Beyond The Horizon” (4:37), “To Live Another Day” (3:03), “Dream-Catcher” (8:17), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (4:53), “Aladdin” (3:38), “Emerald Rain” (5:03), “ Remember When” (4:36), “Through October Skies” (4:21), “Ethereal” (1:13), “Midnight’s Tide” (11:11)
Gordon Tittsworth – Lead Vocals, Bass & Keyboards
Dennis Mullin – Guitars & Keyboards
Matt Kaiser – Drums & Percussion