Review Summary: The Enid continue down the road of Classical music and Progressive Rock, and consequently release a second album which is anything but "Nonsense".
Of The Enid's second album, “Aerie Faerie Nonsense”, Robert John Godfrey said this: “...we had to take the piss out of ourselves a bit to get the music across.” Regardless of whether that statement is purely honest or not, “Aerie Faerie Nonsense” could actually live up to its name in some music critics' eyes. The fact that every song on the album has several twists and turns, meandering from one singular instrument to the next, weaving through as many styles of classical music as possible before returning to the oddities and obscurities of Progressive Rock. The idea that this album is conceptually based on an aspiring young knight called Roland and his travels across the world tells us that The Enid never really have conformed to the rights and wrongs of society or the failures of politics to write their songs, but fantasy and dreamy landscapes made only by a mental yet somehow comprehensive mixture of guitars, drums, keyboards, synthesisers and trumpets.
“In the Region of the Summer Stars” had a fairly great use of epic atmospheres and its control over each and every mood, made possible by music itself. Indeed, the best thing about bands like The Enid is the fact that they can mix these moods and emotions into one, and consequently use them to reflect the power of the concept itself. Once again, every song title on “Aerie Faerie...” conspires to a particular mood, and the music helps a great deal. There are images of victory and pride in 'A Heroe's Life' (Note: I have no idea why 'Heroe' is spelt like it is), melancholy and depression in 'Isle of brooding Solitude', and even an ode to medieval times on the very quirky 'Bridal Dance'. Basically, whichever song you listen to from “Aerie Faerie...” first, you are bound to enjoy its intelligence and significance instantly.
Of course, the instruments themselves were the main attraction of The Enid's début album, and unsurprisingly enough “Aerie Faerie...” continues in the same way. This time however, there are not five members of the band contributing to the album, but seven-That is, two keyboardists, two guitarists, two bassists, one drummer and percussionist and that all vital trumpet player. Yes, this time round The Enid had really strived to include everything possible into their music, whilst also maintaining their accessibility and excitement. In particular the guitars are slightly less prominent than on the band's début, but this only makes more room for the bass and percussion to truly shine through the classical influences, and make themselves known. The instantaneous yet magical opener 'A heroes Life' automatically keeps the listener on edge with its everlasting guitar melodies and thundering bass, alongside some very interesting atmospheres weaving themselves in the background. Simply put, the seven-minute track has absolutely everything-timeless tempo changes, a mixture of moods and emotions to fit listeners of all genres, and enough excitement and energy to keep full seats in some of the biggest theatres in the world. Yes, “Aerie Faerie Nonsense” is introduced very well.
The other songs generally follow suit, but are still very diverse in the way that they are structured. The sinister openings of both the wondrous 'Isle of brooding Solitude' and sometimes menacing, other times racing 'The grand Loving' are both supported by twisted, hypnotic guitar work and some truly heartfelt melodies that could only emanate from the undeniable talents of Stephen Stewart and Francis Lickerish. Not only that, but the haunting keyboards recurring throughout these two songs add a doomy and gloomy effect to the already rich and epic atmospheres, in which Godfrey himself produces show-stopping, eye-opening interludes to keep the listener from so much as thinking of skipping to the next track. It's all heartfelt, emotional work that goes into albums like “Aerie Faerie Nonsense”. Taking the time to make sure that none of the instruments ever put a step wrong is obviously essential to a decent Progressive Rock album, and each and every song on the album bar the dim closer 'Love...Death...The Immolation of Fand' is extremely well written.
This previous statement however, is perhaps the album's only flaw: A very dull closer to an album that otherwise produces music of stupendous quality. Yes, there is tension. Epic atmospheres? There's a bit of that too. What isn't there with 'Love...Death...' is the fact that there seems to be no direction. It's rather frustrating too, to see such a long track (It is the album's longest track by a mile, running at just over twelve minutes), be bogged down by too much build-up, and not the quirkiness or force that was found on the amazing opener 'A Heroe's Life' or 'Isle of brooding Solitude'. Instead, the keyboards, synthesisers and trumpets become louder and louder, but just when you think the song is going to pick off and go into overdrive using every instrument possible, it carries on and completely changes it's style. This isn't so much a bad thing if you like your music extremely tense and gradual, but for those who happen to like their Progressive Rock to go “straight for the bull's eye” (to coin a phrase), you will probably be disappointed.
That said, this minor (or major, depending on your taste) flaw is one that can be overlooked and ignored. The consistency and brilliant songwriting on “Aerie Faerie Nonsense” is second to none, and though it may seem that there is too much praise to be taken seriously, you would do well to so much as listen to this album once through. It all started with the magnificence of The Enid's début album “In the Region of the Summer Stars”, but with perhaps more focus and soul than ever before, “Aerie Faerie Nonsense” continued the band's legacy and voyage into further popular territory, before sadly having massive problems with their not-so-trustworthy label. Oh well, at least this album can be safely called a timeless one.