Bert Heinen’s fifth studio album to this date. “Summer In Eden” was my top album of 2002 so you might call me prejudice. Yet, I defy anyone to find a musician who is turning out quality works like Heinen is, album after album – even if his dreamy symphonic style is not incredibly complex, heavy or progressive for that matter.
The short “Crossing Road” begins things with an immediately engaging symphonic sweep, pulling us into Heinen’s tender, fairytale world. This is an exquisite little song with some creative fuzz guitar added to the mix and it gets things off to a good start. “Back to Earth” follows in a similar manner, and while not being noticeably different from the first track, it still succeeds in engaging the listener with each new experience.
The real treat of this album is the 13 minute title track, which builds upon swirling moog work that recalls Neuronium’s excellent work from the seventies and early eighties. Heinen knows how to build melody and structure from synthesizers and he does it better than anybody. The song ends in spectacular style with a climatic build up of keys and a cinematic orchestration that breaks into a quiet refrain, before building to a second climax. “Last day of the Butterfly” follows. It’s a less dense, quieter track that slowly builds with the added benefit of vocal harmonies and some fuzzy keys (or is that guitars???). The fact that instruments blend together so well is a testament to Heinen’s engineering skills.
“Flood” is not up to the quality of the rest of the albums. The samples at the beginning, make it sound a bit like a refugee from the eighties. It does build and develop but cannot reach the level musically of the rest of the album. It is the one 8 minute mistake of the album. We end with “The Days Remaining”, also not a great track. It does showcase some excellent lead guitar towards the end but there is still a kind of forced melodic feel to the song that harkens back to what synth pop new wave bands were doing in the 80s.
And despite the nice acoustic 3 minute “Live Forever” with it’s sweet mellotron, I felt a somewhat soured taste at the end of the CD. It’s unfortunate to hear some of the weakest tracks at the end of any album. While the first 33 minutes of “Homeland” make this album almost perfect, the last 20 show the vulnerability of being too “similar” in style throughout any given work without keep up the excellence of a particular style.
“Summer in Eden” showed constant consistency while not being too overly diverse. “Homeland” loses steam at the end, but it’s still a damn good symphonic prog album and well worth checking out.