Vangelis - Heaven & Hell [Esoteric Recordings - 2013]Originally released in late 1975 Heaven & Hell was the 5th album from this celebrated & respected Greek electronic composer & musician. The album saw him mixing his banks of synths & electronics, with the sound of English chamber choir, rising & dramatic classical influenced composition, showy yet emotional piano lines, and the voice of singing prog legend John Anderson( this is the first time the pair collaborated)….all to create a very epic & grand work that mixers together elements of various genres- taking in classical styling’s, grand sound tracking, 70’s electronica, new age music, and more lush/grand prog hints.
This is a CD/digital download reissue of the album, and it finds the whole thing getting full re-mastering by Vangelis himself. The release appeared in 2013 as part of a series of six or so Vangelis reissues of classic/early albums put out by Uk’s Esoteric Recordings (the prog/ 70-80’s electronica sub-label of Cherry Red Records)
The 43.14 minute album is broken into two epic & multi-part tracks- "Heaven and Hell Part I"( which features the John Anderson single "So Long Ago, So Clear"), and "Heaven and Hell Part II". With each track coming in at around just shy of the twenty one minute mark.
As the albums title suggest's, this very much feels like Vangelis is trying to recreate the sound of both heaven & hell, filtered through a very dramatic & epic 1970’s sonic setting. The first track deals more with the lush, grand & heaven like atmosphere. While the second track focus more towards the hell side of things, with more jarring slightly angular elements, with detours into more eerier-to-epic flourisher. As already mentioned each of the two tracks is a shifting & multi-part suite, with each segment lasting between eight & just over two mintues a piece.
I think there’s little point detailing every twist & turn here, as I think it would ruin the initial feeling of grand & dramatic unfold the album offers up first time listener. Truly Vangelis must have put in a lot of work in both the mixing & building of epic & swooning electrioncs, layers of choirs, grand paino textures, etc…but he also put a lot of time into the memorable melodies & rewarding composition flow of the work- sure the whole thing is full of pomp, but it always remains an entertaining & rewarding sonic joinery though-out…never been showy for showy sake.
So all in all this is another most satisfying Vangelis album from the 70’s - I can see this appealing to both fans of dramatic & grand soundtrack work, along with those who enjoy more 70’s focused progressive & symphonic sounds.Roger Batty