Sunday, August 13, 2017

Album Review: Leaving Eden - Out Of The Ashes

The mainstream rock scene is one that I'm not sure I can even identify anymore. What constitutes rock these days is not what I remember, nor is it something I particularly enjoy. Whether we're talking about the screaming bands that are more metal than rock, or the sophomoric 'bro' bands, the range of sounds that get lumped under the same term is useless is helping us figure out if we're going to like something. That made me turn up my eyebrow when I saw Leaving Eden describe their new album as 'extreme rock'. I have no idea what that is, nor whether it's accurate or not, but I decided I needed to find out for myself.

These are pedantic issues to bring up, but I'm a writer who loves words, so I do need to say that 'extreme rock' is not a fitting description of Leaving Eden's music. There's nothing extreme about it, so I think they might be setting people up for disappointment if that's what they are expecting to hear.

That being said, what's important is the actual music. The first couple of tracks on the record are solid modern rock tracks that fit in with what the genre has been producing. There are moments where you can hear a melody begin to sparkle, but the songs pull back just enough to stop them from glistening. They're solid songs, but the adherence to being as rock as possible holds the songs back from what they could have been.

The title track fixes that, and shows what Leaving Eden is good at. With a more dramatic flair, it's a song that is able to use the atmosphere to sound heavy, while retaining a chorus that has a strong melody. Eve's vocals are at their best here, sounding confident with just a hint of aggression that makes it clear she's a rock singer through and through. That can get taken a bit too far, especially in some of the juvenile lyrics of "Sometimes", but usually she's the bright spot that differentiates Leaving Eden from a lot of the faceless bands that play similarly down-tuned rock and roll.

My favorite track on the album is "No Soul", which is the ballad that isn't really a ballad of the album. The riffs are as heavy as the rest of the album, but the duet vocals and hints of piano are a different tone, and the chorus has some of the sweep that a ballad usually does. It's a lovely piece of melodic hard rock, and is an avenue I think the band would be wise to explore more often.

So where do I come down on "Out Of The Ashes"? In a world of stale modern rock, Leavin Eden is a solid alternative to the usual names. This is a quick and enjoyable enough record, one that doesn't do much wrong. It's also a record that is a stepping stone to where the band needs to get. There is still room for improvement, which will hopefully continue to come. That being said, "Out Of The Ashes" is a fine record for now, while we wait for them to fully grow into themselves.

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