Egdon Heath - The Killing Silence

Year of Release: 1991
Label: SI Music (defunct)
Catalog Number: SIMPly Two
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:07:00

This was the first disc of Egdon Heath's that I bought, and it still ranks as my favourite of their releases. It is to me the perfect melding of musicians and vocals. Being so close to this disc now, having played it close to a hundred times I'm sure, it makes it a bit difficult to be objective. But, I will try.

Egdon Heath have a style that is similiar to many other neo-progressives without sounding too much like any one. The closest comparison would be Arena, who were formed a few years after this was released, or Shadowland ... both Clive Nolan projects. But even then, it is only a slight resemblance. There are times, of course, where a guitar phrase here, a keyboard phrase there, has similar qualities to ... mostly, Marillion. Some of the guitar work in the latter part of "Tell Me" has a Rothery tone to it - those high, clear, ringing notes.

The arrangements are bright and clear, though the drums seem to fair the worst production wise, as they sound a little tinny at times (I didn't notice before, so maybe it's the stereo system). There is an overall feel of classicism here in the arrangments, were keys function as a string and brass section without losing their identity as keys. Jens van der Stempel handles the lead vocals on this disk - his voice is deep and rich, very sonorous, with only the occasional accent.

Although this isn't really a concept album, most of the songs have a similiar underlying theme - never give up. In the opening track "No Second Faust," the message is clearly don't be taken in by hucksters and "rapscallions" (rascals). "The devil has given you / Bracelets with diamonds forever / Oppose, resist, No Second Faust"... Faust, of course, sold his soul for knowledge and power...

Perhaps one of the biggest examples of this theme is the title track. The historical context is thus, from the cd booklet: "On January 17th 1912 Captain Robert Falcon Scott and four companions reached after a terrible expedition their target: The South Pole. But they were not the first! The Norweigan Roald Amundsen had grasped the prize..." So, here is the story of Scott's attempt, offered up as determination in the face of adversity. That adversity is not only weather, which has killed at least two of his team, but the fear of having to face the families and others with nothing to say ("the killing silence") should he return not even being the second to reach the pole. The track is keenly written by keyboardist Jaap Mulder, using a modicum of words to express a great deal of meaning, all helped by van der Stempel's emotional and nuanced vocals. This is an epic track - great, soaring guitar leads by Aldo Adema, and powerful drums and percussion by Valère Wittevrongel.

But, not everything here is so grim and serious - there's "T.T.C" and "Message" - both songs of love. Guest vocalist Elly May, whose voice appears on many of the tracks, duets with van der Stempel on "Message." She has a voice that is one moment ethereal and at another earthy.

This is the only disc that van der Stempel appeared on; on their first Wolf Rappard provided vocals and on their subsequent two, it has been Maurits Kalsbeek.

All around this is a solid album, and comes highly recommended, should you be able to track down a copy. I know, how teasingly of me. Since the label this was released on is no more ... though I think sort of reborn by Cymbeline ... it may be difficult to obtain. But, that's just one more adversity to overcome.

No Second Faust (8:40) / Tell Me (8:05) / T.T.C. (5:18) / Waiting For The Outburst (8:01) / The Killing Silence (16:12) / Message (5:40) / Stand Straight (8:00) / The Tide Is Out (2:51)

Jaap Mulder - piano, keyboards, and backing vocals
Wolf Rappard - keyboards and backing vocals
Aldo Adema - guitar
Marcel Copini - basses and acoustic guitar
Jens van der Stempel - lead vocals
Elly May - guest vocals

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: June 15th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 2093
Language: english


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