(All Album Reviews by maribor)
Mike Oldfield is rapidly becoming one of my favourite artists in the music industry. Some of his albums just amaze me, but unfortunately some leave me bewildered. Heaven's Open falls into the latter category.
Again, Oldfield uses a more band-oriented strategy for this record. There are two particularly familiar faces in the line-up - Mickey Simmonds (Fish, Camel) and Simon Phillips (where hasn't he played).
My hopes were really high when I bought this album. The band strategy seemed to work on Five Miles Out, so I thought it might do the trick here as well. I was already wetting my lips in anticipation of the long suite “Music From The Balcony”. Oldfield's longest pieces have always been my favourite side of his career.
I was terribly disappointed when I first heard the album, even more so because my expectations were so high. The first part of the album contains single-oriented songs; but unlike some of his previous commercial attempts, he fails miserably in creating any memorable melodies. His singing is below par as well. It just seems he's trying to sound like someone else. It might work if this was a David Bowie album but I expect much more from Oldfield.
The worst song from the lot would have to be “Gimmie Back”, which has a pretty bland reggae riff, and is annoying as hell. I'm also somewhat bothered by his use of grammatically incorrect terms such as “gimmie” or “ain't”. I suppose I wouldn't be as bothered by that if the music was good.
At least there is one decent song on the album. The title song has some nice and catchy hooks, and even some nice lead guitar work, which is sorely missed on the other tracks. Mike's acoustic guitar and lead guitar work is some of the best in the business as far as I'm concerned, and it's a crime that he doesn't use it more here. Instead, cheesy synth sounds seem to be preferred.
The long suite is yet another bitter disappointment. There's a lack of melodies and Oldfield is mainly interested in experimenting with noises here. There are some nice moments here, so it's not a total loss, but overall definitely not among his best "epic" pieces.
3.5 out of 10.