Egdon Heath - Nebula

Year of Release: 1996
Label: Cymbeline
Catalog Number: Cymply 50762
Format: CD
Total Time: 59:27:00

If you are looking for happy neo-progressive, music with an optimistic outlook on life and the human condition, then Egdon Heath aren't for you (except maybe 1991's The Killing Silence). Nebula is a very dark, oppressive, and depressing work, despite the harmonies and soaring choruses of some tracks.

I don't know if all the doom and gloom is based on life in The Netherlands, where EH are based, but certainly it is based on life on planet Earth. Vocalist/lyricist Maurits Kalsbeek doesn't seem to be a happy man at all - and why should he be? A look around you, at all the darkness, oppression and depression in the world, will clearly tell you the song subjects here. You certainly won't find fluffy, pompous love songs (a la Shadow Gallery, for example), though "Hail To The Heart" might seem so by the title alone. Well, yes, it is a long song of a sort - where a loved one is the light in the darkness - but that isn't really apparent until the latter half of the song.

Egdon Heath don't sound quite like anyone in the neo-prog ranks I can identify, on this, their fourth album (their second with Kalsbeek on vocals). Vague comparisions can be made to Dream Theater and Queensryche, I suppose, maybe Eloy - there are some similar dynamics, though there is no indication either of the bands are an influence.

And, a nitpicker might find a guitar phrase or two that sounds like someone else, but really, Egdon Heath have their own agenda and their own muse.

Even with all the darkness, however, this isn't a depressing album to listen to. Yes, the arrangements are dense for the most part - though there are sections of each that open up, allowing breathing space. The centerpieces are "Buried Inside," which features a short orchestral section reminincent of...well, think Darth Vader's theme from Star Wars or some chase scene in an adventure film, and "As Ripley Would Say..." - thematically it is like an episode of the X-Files, or any government and aliens conspiracy film. But, you don't necessarily feel drained, depressed, or even suicidal after listening.

I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not. I mean, why create a dark album, with a dark message, only to have the listener walk away undepressed? Perhaps those who don't haven't lost all hope and may end up being the salvation of earth and of man. Or, like focus of "Head In The Sand," maybe those who aren't depressed by that around them are blinding themselves to the truth.

Overall, this disc is pretty good. There are a few production quibbles I have, the instrumentation obscuring the vocals in places. This is definitely designed to be listened to loud as there are sections where it's quiet, somber more-like. But, I do recommend this album.

Hail To Your Heart (8:04) / Head In The Sand (5:20) / Peace Of The Brave (7:00) / Telepathic (5:39) / Buried Alive (8:20) / Little Human (5:51) / As Ripley Would Say... (12:30) / Dead Meat (7:23)

Maurits Kalsbeek - lead vocals, guitars, backing vocals
Jaap Mulder - piano, keyboards, backing vocals
Wolf Rappard - keyboards
Aldo Adema - electric and acoustic guitars
Marcel Copini - bass, backing vocals, acoustic guitar
Valere Wittevrongel - drums, percussion

In The City (1991)
The Killing Silence (1991)
Him, The Snake and I (1993)
Nebula (1996)
Rarities (1999)
Live At Last (2000)

Genre: Neo Prog

Origin NL

Added: May 1st 1998
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1662
Language: english


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