WINTER IN EDEN – ‘Echoes Of Betrayal’ (Lycan Records)
An extremely impressive live band, Winter In Eden copped fabulous reviews for their debut album ‘Awakening’. And now the North Eastern quintet are back with ‘Awakening’’s follow-up, the enigmatically titled and wonderfully packaged ‘Echoes Of Betrayal’.
“At its core I’d say ‘Echoes...’ is very much a progression of the Winter In Eden sound from ‘Awakening’; we’ve retained that vibe that’s in keeping with what people will be used to. However, a couple of the songs are quite different in style and may not be what fans will be expecting, so hopefully that’ll be a pleasant surprise for them,” is how guitarist Sam Cull describes it, and who am I to argue with that? A cocktail of power and passion, ‘Echoes...’ is in equal measures vicarious and enthralling, in-your-face aggression rubbing shoulders with passages of transcendent splendour. It takes up where ‘Awakening’ left off, but builds on that album’s solid foundations and pushes the band’s horizons wider both in terms of songwriting and performances. And that’s said with no disrespect to the band’s spectacular debut: ‘Awakening’ is a great album, make no mistake about that, but ‘Echoes…’ is a truly great album. “We were all much more focused on the end goal this time,” comments keyboard player Steve Johnson, “because we had a better understanding of how the band members worked as musicians, and we could draw from past experiences from recording 'Awakening' in relation to what worked well and what could be improved.”
Possibly as a result of this focus the guitar/keyboard interplay between Cull and Johnson is almost astonishing at times, while at the back bassist Ian Heddle and drummer Wayne McAloon lock and rock together like there’s no tomorrow. Front and centre, Vicky Johnson appears to have grown immeasurably in confidence and dominates the material with some really superb vocal performances. Highlights come thick and fast but the main attraction has to be the three tracks that make up in epic(a) style the continuation of the first album’s ‘Awakening’ saga. ‘Chapter III – Regret’ as the title might suggest is a slower, sombre piece fleshed out by a cracking solo from guitarist Cull; ‘Chapter IV – Torment’ is a more aggressive, more feisty song with a great vocal performance from Vicky Johnson; and ‘Chapter V’ – Descension’ gives Steve Johnson his own chance to shine in a largely solo symphonic instrumental which builds and builds to an exciting climax. Each song is as individual as they come, but taken together they probably showcase in fourteen minutes the very essence of Winter In Eden.
“We simply wrote what came naturally to us… and are really happy with the results,” is how Ms Johnson describes ‘Echoes Of Betrayal’. I’d go further: it’s ambitious, it’s adventurous and it’s British too. Fabulous
© John Tucker May 2012