Review Summary: Say no to Yes.
A new Yes album is something that exists in the year of our lord 2014, and it goes by the name of Heaven & Earth
. No hype, despite the band’s efforts, was present. Dread is a more appropriate word for many who just simply hoped it would all end. But no mercy killing would suffice for this progressive rock dinosaur, opting for a brand-spanking-new album, with another replacement (for Benoit David, the original replacement for long-standing vocalist Jon Anderson) by the name of Jon Davison. The immediate issue with this is that Davison is just a fourth-rate Jon Anderson imitator, and a poor songwriter to boot. How this all came to be is one big mystery to be honest, and Heaven & Earth
is really just a victim of not only horrendous songwriting, but atrocious production as well (as done by Roy Baker Thomas, known for his work with Queen). The combination of the band’s sound, and Thomas’ style of sleek production don’t mesh well in the slightest bit.
From the instant it begins, it all seems so bland and uninspired, from the SNES-tier synthesizers by Geoff Downes, or the hesitant playing by Steve Howe. Vocally, the album is sub-par, but it is probably the only positive point of Heaven & Earth
. The instrumentation however, is lacking and quite far too restrained, most notably the leisurely playing on In A World of Our Own
, or the incredibly droll The Game
with lyrics that make even the most novice songwriter look like Bernie Taupin in comparison:
“We all know the rules, the game/Us fools, still we play the same…”
”Through fleeting days and all that greys/It’s times like these as true love stays/I always knew through thick and thin/It’s here that I’d begin again.”
Now, there was never an expectation of an epic on the scale of Close to the Edge
, nor was there an expectation of songs like Hearts
or Shock to the System
, from the day it was announced, there was the lurking expectation of not only potential (and very likely) disappointment of yet another terrible Yes album, but at least a decent effort of making something worth listening to. Yet, that is not the case, and Yes has gone above and beyond to make the newest atrocity for the progressive rock genre.
Throwing in generic moog solos is not progressive. No Steve Howe, tossing in legato triplets over and over, and over again is not innovative in the slightest bit. None of this tripe, all fifty-two minutes of it, is progressive at all. More akin to a dying breed, latter-era Yes is regressing. While something like Fly From Here
worked for reviving an ancient track long forgotten by the band and expanding upon it, and throwing in a few new tracks that filled out the running time, Heaven & Earth
just doesn’t work at all. In comparison, Big Generator
seems like a progressive rock classic, and if Yes can create something that allows me to say something like that, then it truly must be time to give up on the band.
To say no to Yes.