Hundred Year Flood


Magna Carta Records, 2002

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Reviewing a disc about the sacrifices one soldier made in Vietnam is a difficult task for me. You see, my father fought in Vietnam, as did my uncle. They were lucky, though; they both returned home alive, even though my uncle had been injured. Knowing what they went through makes listening to this disc a bit of an emotional experience for me.

For Trent Gardner, writing and recording Hundred Year Flood had to be harder. Gardner's brother Jack was not as fortunate; he was killed in country in 1966. The sudden loss of his brother when he was only four years old, combined with trying to reconcile that loss with doing good in the here and now, makes up the bulk of this disc.

Hundred Year Flood is a very difficult disc to listen to on many levels, and while it is a journey worth taking, it's also one you'll find you only need to listen to once or twice.

The centerpiece of the disc is the 34-minute epic "The Great Goodnight," a song broken up into 13 tracks. With his brother Wayne on guitar and bass (as well as drummer Joe Franco), Trent Gardner takes the listener through the ordeal of losing a brother he barely knew, dealing with the few memories he has of him (including the pain his parents felt upon the notification of Jack's death) and even to the battlefield where his brother lost his life.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Musically, it takes a few minutes for Trent Gardner to really get things cranked up - and it almost would have been better had he started the piece out around track 3, without the musical and vocal prologue leading up to the story. Once you reach that point, though, the track clicks on all cylinders, taking the listener through one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride.

This is what I mean when I say this is a disc you only need to listen to once. It doesn't mean that Hundred Year Flood is bad. It's just that there is enough energy and emotion the listener has to put into a disc like this that the experience is something you don't need to constantly go through in order to remember what's on the disc. It's kind of like watching A Clockwork Orange; this is indeed a disc which will make a mark on your mind.

The middle track of the three songs listed, "Family Jewels," starts off perfectly with a haunting flute solo from Ian Anderson - and, with no disrespect meant towards Trent Gardner, the track would have been perfect had it ended with Anderson's flute fading out instead of trying to turn this one into an instrumental prog-rock tour de force. The full band's contribution to this one is a tad too eclectic, never quite knowing where it wants to go and, ultimately, weakening the overall power of the track.

The final track, "Brother's Keeper," tries to find some solace in the loss by showing compassion towards the less fortunate, and the constant battle the narrator has with his inner cynic which says it's not his problem. In theory, the concept of the song is good, but musically it lacks the same kind of planning and polish that "The Great Goodnight" has, and is almost anti-climactic in the way the disc ends. (Actually, the disc ends with Trent Gardner thanking the listener for making it as far as they have - appropriate words, since the disc is such an emotional powerhouse that you may need to turn it off and walk away to digest what you've heard.)

Hundred Year Flood is the kind of disc that will leave a mark on your mind, if not your life, especially if you've ever had a loved one serve in the Armed Forces or - even worse - had one not come home safe and sound. Gardner deals with a reality that no one should ever have to face in a so-called civilized world, but does so bravely. It took a lot of courage to put his feelings down in this manner - and, while it's a worthwhile trip, it will take courage on the listener's part as well.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Magna Carta Records, and is used for informational purposes only.