Harmony of Lies
Released: 2006, Independent
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Eden’s Fall are a new band out of Chicago whose music bridges several genres including power, traditional, thrash and progressive metal. This diversity draws immediate comparisons to Nevermore, but influences can also be felt from Metal Church, Iced Earth and Jag Panzer. The galloping verses and impressive guitar runs are coupled with a pummeling rhythm section and capable, mid-range vocals that place HARMONY OF LIES among a uniquely North American elite. The album is an independent release but the music here could certainly find a comfortable home on a larger metal indie. Proof of that lies in the fact that a pair of big names assisted in the completion of the album: mixing was handled by Swedish death metal underlord Dan Swano (Bloodbath, Edge of Sanity), while James Murphy (Testament, Death, Obituary) took care of the final mastering process. This is an excellent debut and renews my faith that not all new North American bands are taking the path to metalcore damnation.
The shredding intro to “Blur The Lines” burns deep and the harmonic riffs that populate the track pretty much set the mood for the album. Nothing overly flashy or technical but well-played and memorable. The Nevermore similarity is first felt on the ripping “Planet Hate,” as John Barr’s vocals closely resemble Warrel Dane’s mid- to lower-range and the guitar pomp is stepped up a few notches. Ray Smith is relentless in his double bass thump here, as well. Barr’s grizzled, growled vocals on “Dead Thought Matrix” echo those of ex-Iced Earth frontman Matt Barlow and the guitar crunch of Rob Aquino and Tony Gronowski is just plain divine. The riffs of “Liquid Christ” have Jon Schaffer’s stamp all over them and the speedy combo of bassist Dan Gronowski and Smith cement a solid backbone to the song.
The weak spots on HARMONY OF LIES are twofold. First, the vocals are rather one-dimensional. Besides the aforementioned likeness to Warrel Dane and Matt Barlow, John Barr also has shades of ex-Metal Church throat Mike Howe, but I hear a far less expansive range to Barr than any of the other vocalists possess. To coin a phrase, “Variety is the spice of life” and Barr’s performance is as bland as mashed potatoes in a retirement home. Secondly, while HARMONY OF LIES is Eden’s Fall’s debut, the band needs to step up musically. There is clearly potential there but for whatever reason, the musicians seem to be reined in rather than cutting loose. These guys have been together for six years, assumingly honing the songs presented here, and it is this submissive stance that makes HARMONY OF LIES a “good” album rather than a “great” album.
Eden’s Fall needs to find their own identity rather than wearing their influences so clearly on their sleeves. In doing so, they encourage comparisons to Nevermore, etc. and no guitarist wants to be shed in the same light as Jeff Loomis. Likewise, the Warrel Dane/Matt Barlow parallel is a tough act to follow for a vocalist, especially one who has but a single album to his credit. Eden’s Fall demonstrates their talent on HARMONY OF LIES but on their follow-up, it will be curious to see where they take their music. The seed has been planted; now it just needs to be nourished and shaped into an impressive musical bouquet.
KILLER KUTS: “Blur The Lines,” “Planet Hate,” “Dead Thought Matrix,” “Liquid Christ”