Review Summary: A masterpiece from the mastermind that is The Enid1 of 6 thought this review was well written
A masterpiece from the mastermind that is The Enid, and more specifically pianist and sometimes vocalist Robert John Godfrey (the main creative voice of the band, however not the only). This album is often considered an apex of their career, and this was definitely so commercially; however this did not mean a degrading in quality to suit the populous, instead it was a refinement of what they have produced previously, which caused its subsequent success in progressive circles.
Now, when I implied that this album was commercially successful, I was being¬*somewhat misleading. It is an overlooked album, from an underground band, but not to the extent of their previous releases; and they have this status for a reason. In case your are knew to The Enid, they are a symphonic and/or progressive English band formed in the late 70's, and have recently reformed. Their inception was juxtaposed with the downfall of progressive music, and the genesis of punk; yet with a loyal fan base they survived this ill-fate. Then six years later 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' was released.
The album opens with the beautiful, and eccentrically sung 'Acid Raindown'. It demonstrates much that is unique about The Enid, from Godfrey's dramatic and somewhat humorous vocals, to the lush symphonic soundscapes that create an atmosphere of pure elation. Here the percussion and orchestration dominate, while the guitars modestly reside in the backbone of the song.
¬* ¬* ¬* ¬* ¬* The album soon puts further emphasis on guitars however. Tracks such as 'Song For Europe' or 'Jessica's Song' feature melodic, violin-esque guitar lines that are often purposelessly understated and all the more brilliant because of it. Godfrey's concentrated orchestrations are still present, providing considerable density to these instrumentals. The percussion plays a similar role in this respect; cymbals, echoing bass drums, powerful timpani really do strengthen these pieces, without falling into the trap of such pompous habits seen in other certain progressive groups.
There are many layers of dynamics to this album; whether it be in the form of a climax, or a subdued composition such as 'Evensong'. This provides a stimulating contrast that I believe is essential in creating a beautiful album. The Enid achieve this exact sentiment, making this album one that any listener will be able to enjoy in its entirety, many times over. Not many albums have the level of contrast and dynamics (while retaining a unity between compositions) that is present here. Albums such as Steven Wilson's 'Grace For Drowning' or King Crimson's 'Red' come to mind when appreciating perfection in a record through the use of a solid theme, with much contrast within. These artists have succeeded where people like 'Rush' have failed; The Enid understands the essentialness of subtlety.
Majesty is a word that often comes to mind when listening to this album. You feel like you are listening to something somewhat divine in a form that is comprehendible. The guitars tone is key to emphasising this aspect of the band. In the title track there is a wonderful powerful, yet minimalistic guitar solo that embellishes the main melody. It is an example of Stephen Stewart's stylistic approach that is vital to The Enid's sound. The guitar reverberates throughout the recording; each smooth passage is filled with a concentrated execution. Then it is further amplified by the harmonies on Godfrey's keyboard and the variety of the Chris North's percussion. All this praise may seem more than enough, even with my neglect in mentioning the beauty of the melody itself. Nonetheless I vehemently believe that the respect I give this album is thoroughly deserved, and I hope many can agree with me on this. ¬*
¬* ¬* ¬* ¬* ¬* ¬* There all i can say is that if you want to experience a unique, joyous, and considered series of compositions, amplified by wonderful musicianship, you should thoroughly enjoy this album.