Sunday, August 10, 2014

YES: "Heaven & Earth"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Yes or No? Heaven or Earth? First things first. Jon Anderson is no longer their lead vocalist and his replacement (Jon Davison from Glass Hammer) is basically the sound alike with falsetto vocals and whole she-bang. I do not have a major problem with this since I'm not really the long time fan. Merely the last six, seven, years or so and it's been fun discovering all those excellent, but slightly weird 70's albums. Close To The Edge is their all-time masterpiece in my humble opinion. Steve Howe (guitars), Chris Squire (bass), Geoff Downes (keyboards) and Alan White (drums) are all on board and this album is greatly produced by the legendary Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, The Cars, Foreigner, etc).

Heaven & Earth is not quite as experimental and ehem arty as their early albums as it's more melodic progressive rock and you don't always need to be the prog-nerd to enjoy these melodies. The songs are all mid-tempo and darn catchy in a light progressive way and style. I do like this album quite a lot and tracks such as "The Game" and "Step Beyond" are easily up there amongst their best work. I know this must be weird to most folks, but they sort of remind me both of their 80s period as well as the cult act of Hobbit.

"To Ascend" is basically soft-rock and more towards the style of Supertramp than Yes to be completely honest. But it's good stuff and those poppy prog melodies of "In a World Of Our Own" and "It Was All We Knew", sits nicely in between their previous work and the sound of Supertramp. You're in for a treat, if you're able to look past the absence of Anderson. And I know that's a big 'IF' to some of you guys. But give it a shot, since it's really fine and smooth progressive rock with great orchestration. Recommended.

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