The mega-collective mind that is The Eden House returns with the long-awaited sophomore album 'Half Life', the follow up to 2009's impressive début long-player 'Smoke And Mirrors'. The band blends a diverse palette of styles and influences that encompass gothic, progressive, trip-hop and roots music into dark psychedelic rock which has set The Eden House apart from the crowd very quickly. And with a range of well-received albums and EPs to the band's name already, the bar is already set very high for their second album.
Once again the core of the band, comprised of Stephen Carey, Tony Pettitt and Andy Jackson is joined by a variety of vocalists including Lee Douglas (Anathema) and Monica Richards (Faith And The Muse) as well as guest musicians, such as Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music) and Simon Hinkler (The Mission). All of who give the band a uniquely wide-ranging appeal and talents to really push the boundaries of what rock music can be.
The album opens with the lead single ‘Bad Men’, a trip-hop heavy mixture of driving guitars, grooving bass and subtly hypnotic feminine vocals which shows the band at their commercial best. Across songs such as 'Indifference', 'The Empty Space', 'City Of Goodbyes' and 'First Light' the band bring together the mystical elements of The Fields Of The Nephilim, the introspection of Pink Floyd and the avant garde bleakness of Portishead into a strangely uplifting formula. While the likes of 'Wasted On Me' and 'The Tempest' give the album a rawer edge with their focuses on strong rhythms.
Though it would be nice if the band delved more into the ambient electronics of the the B-side of the lead single, 'Survival Instinct' to add a little more experimentalism to the track list.
As you would expect from a band with a pedigree such as this, the production and mix are absolutely faultless. There instruments and vocals ebb and flow into each other with such ease and grace that the whole album feels as though it has been painted rather than performed.
The Eden House's body of work is fast becoming the mark by which to measure gothic rock. The collective's scope and ambition is high and they have more than enough talent with which to realise it. The band do feel somewhat comfortable on 'Half Life' and the album's formula doesn't really deviate into any truly experimental directions, which is a shame as they are more than capable. But having said that, the band's penchant for creating simply sublime music is beyond reproach.