Following the 2011 release of “Fly From Here”, the new Yes album “Heaven & Earth” features yet another new singer, this time Glass Hammer‘s Jon Davison. Of course, the expectations were high, still, the first sounds of the album’s opener ‘Believe Again’ hint at a very sad performance.
First of all, the album’s sound is shockingly dull and without any power. Considering the recent and – as usual – great remixes Steven Wilson did of the band’s classic 70s albums, it is a shame that Roy Thomas Baker was hired to do the job here. Throughout this album the production never gets right: there is too much reverb and strange phasering at times, furthermore the drums, bass and keyboards sound like they are located in another room. Same goes for the new singer. Compared to the strong vocals of the 70s and even 80s albums, this time they are just embarrassing – but this includes Chris Squire‘s and Steve Howe‘s backing vocals, too.
Secondly, the songwriting is weak. The band seems to prefer a soft pop sound now and – even worse – the songs are so slow and uninspired. The whole album has the atmosphere of an early rehearsal and the band just seems to try to get through the songs without actually wanting to. The band isn’t even playing it safe on this album. It’s very disappointing to hear how they try to make the songs interesting but they fail every time.
‘Elevator music’ is a fitting term for what Yes delivers with “Heaven & Earth”. Jon Davison said of the album that it shows the band in an easy listening context, but as a fan commented on his statement: this implies that the new album was easy to listen to. It is sad to say that the much better 2014 Yes release is the new edition of 1971’s “The Yes Album” because it shows what Yes is (or was?) capable of. “Heaven & Earth” is the worst Yes album so far.