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Winter in Eden - Court of Conscience

Winter in Eden – CD Review
Court of Conscience


Court Of Conscience



CD Info
11 Tracks
English Lyrics

The five piece Symphonic Rock Band, Winter in Eden, located in Northeast England, recently released their third album called Court of Conscience. This release follows their EP Hard as Ice (2013) which came out last year. The new album is a diverse mix of rock anthems, ballads, and a little symphonic metal thrown in. Winter in Eden, with this album, has found the way to use contrasting music elements to the fullest potential. The mix of a cappella singing / close harmonies versus light/full accompaniment or the light ballad versus the driving rock anthem gives this album a more mature, polished sound.

Winter in Eden is a well-established Rock Band with the start date in question. The group was established in 2009 although Metal Archives lists 2007 as the formation year. The members have been well established since the band’s formation. The only change came in 2012 with Steve Hauxwell replacing Wayne McAloon on drums.

An added bonus to this album is the fact that Winter in Eden went to the Netherlands to record this album. It was produced by Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation) and mixed by Stefan Helleblad (Within Temptation). Sterling Sound (USA) handled the mastering. This album is a mixture of rock songs and ballads. Throughout the album and each song, there are constant contrasts, whether it is a light accompaniment versus full instrumentation, solo versus duet/group. It also deals with the aftermath of ending a relationship. Throughout the album, each instrumentalist has a chance to shine on their particular instrument. With a sorrowful voice, Vicky Johnson, vocalist, brings out the fact that there are two sides to every story and relationship, and that both are important and need to be said.

The opening track, “Knife’s Edge,” begins with this lovely keyboard solo played by Steve Johnson before the true nature of the song kicks in. This is a true hard anthem with the driving drums played by Steve Hauxwell and the distorted guitar. Later in the song, the guitar leads with the melody, played by Samuel Cull, and then echoed by the rest of the instruments. Along with the drums we have the bass part played by Ian Heddle. Vicky’s vocals come across clear and strong over the instruments and then later with just her and the piano before the whole band joins in. Two parts of the lyrics bring out the beginning of the end of a relationship. They are:

Love and hate live in the same place
I don’t know where we are
Is it lonely with or without you?
You’re cold in my embrace

Now we’re living on a knife’s edge
Lying next to me but sleeping worlds apart

Another hard anthem on the album, “Toxicate,” has the driving rock beat. There are some close harmonies vocally with guest vocalist Nathaly Heinje. The instruments provide a nice emphasis to parts of the lyrics and the guitar is often distorted while playing a countermelody. The vocals are sustained throughout the song. The guitar and keyboard parts at times give a very small hint of a Middle East flavor. An interesting lyric in the song:

Oh no. I fight to restrain
Driven insane

Two songs that could be considered ballads even though they are progressive in nature are “It’s Not Enough” and “The Script.” Both of these songs deal with some aspect of a failed relationship. “It’s Not Enough” opens with a high beeping sound that continues when the vocals enter. The vocals are sorrowful and with remorse. Vicky’s voice is strong as she sustains the phrases and there are some close harmonies as well. Throughout most of the song, the instrumentation under the vocals is light with the heaviest sound in the middle of the song. We have a phrase that is repeated continually, leading to an instrumental interlude, before the vocals enter again. An interesting touch is the drum which mimics a heartbeat to end the song. Lyrics include:

You can have my all but it’s not enough
You can’t take what I can’t give
Not a lover’s love

“The Script” opens with a lovely a cappella part singing “ahs,” featuring Vicky and guest vocalists Damian Wilson (Threshold), Jermaine Van Der Bogt (For All We Know, Aryeon), and Nathaly Heinje. Vicky enters solo with a simple piano part played underneath. Then we are treated to another surprise, which is the addition of the violin and cello countermelodies played by Sieste Van Gorkum and Jonas Pap. Two thirds of the way in the song there is a nice duet with the violin playing the elongated melody over the pizzicato part played by the cello. For the end, Vicky takes the melody, with the violin and cello playing the countermelody, and a steady drum underneath. The song ends with Vicky doing a soulful melismatic vocal part. Some lyrics:

Two sides to every story
Judge me as you find me,
words are blinding
They don’t realise,
I’ve seen the script
Where the vital parts are missed
Dignity is silent
I won’t fight against their verbal violence
So I take your hate and your despise
Though I know it’s based on lies

This review would be much too long for me to review each song on the album. However, I must state that I believe that to fully understand the message, one must look and listen to the lyrics of every song because each one plays an important part. That being said, my favorite song on the album is a cross between a ballad and a traditional rock song. It is “Before It Began.” The lyrics in this song touch a part of me that I had forgotten about for some time. After starting with the drums kicking in, the keyboard and guitars expose us to the melody. Vicky brings us the clear lyrics and then presents the chorus with vocals phrases that are strong and stretch out over the instrumental part. During the chorus the second time, we have a countermelody with the keyboard and then the vocal part is played over the steady drum beat. In contrast we have the vocal part with a synthesized string sound underneath. This is then punctuated with a two note staccato part played by the band and leads into a well-played guitar solo. The last part of the song has the repeated lyrics with Vicky singing over other vocalists singing the chorus. The song ends with the synthesized strings playing the two note phrase from earlier in the song. The lyrics include:

As I closed the door and took my first steps
The tears were rolling and I knew there was no way back
I drove the longest time to see you, now I’m here
Though you don’t answer my calls, I know you are near

Don’t take your time to think it over
Give me some credit there’s no explanation
The kiss that gave me all the answers
Caught in the act there’s nothing that you can say

As the weight of penance descends on me
The scene’s repeating in the slowest of motions
Your voice is echoing inside my mind, feeling numb
I’m trapped in hell on my own, no I can’t escape

Pictures paint a thousand words
in a land of make believe
But actions speak much louder
if you give them chance to breathe
This is my reason and why we could not be
My not so happy ending

So I guess I’ll never know for certain
But my head just could not follow my heart
in the real world

Court of Conscience, overall, is a good album and there are songs to match the styles of many different listeners. It is a must for any Winter in Eden fan and it would be a good addition for the library of Symphonic Rock Fans. The maturity of the group is very apparent and there is a more polished sound to this album. The fact that they went to the Netherlands to record Court of Conscience helped. The lyrics are very good and powerful. Sherry’s vocals are clear, sustaining, and portrays the lyrics very well. The instrumentalists aren’t overpowering, but demonstrate their expertise and the guest musicians/vocalists are a bonus for this album. More information concerning the band can be found at the following links: