Hmm...who would have thought it? So many people slapping around one of the truly great rock albums of all time, and yet I still have the heart to listen. Actually, Jethro Tull's critical nadir was reached during A Passion Play (one of their greatest works, by the way), so I guess I can scratch off that criticism of Heavy Horses. Rolling Stone, a most anti-Tull publication, gave HH a great review. Mojo also included it among the top-ten greatest folk albums of all time.
Oh, and being a Tull fan, you can probably guess that I'm not too concerned with the top ten. Actually, considering that bands like Boston and Fleetwood Mac were at their commercial peaks during this era, I consider Heavy Horses NOT reaching the top ten to be a ringing endorsement! As far as any perceived artistic fall is concerned, that is a purely subjective call. I believe that the Songs From The Wood-to-A era to be this band's greatest.
To call these songs "verbose" and "banal" betrays the taste of the person who uttered these comments. Apparently, this person dislikes artfully crafted lyrics (an utterly rare phenomenon in rock music), or this person believes that rock music should forever confine itself to boy-meets-girl cliches or emerging male sexuality