Review Summary: A new approach to a classic formula...4 of 4 thought this review was well written
For a progressive rock group like The Enid, it can be considered an amazing feat, in which they were able to maintain their quality without being completely different from their original and/or previous incarnations, akin to how King Crimson did the same by being able to stay consistent without converting completely to pop rock hullabaloo. In 1986, The Enid would release “Salome” independently, like they had done with their albums since 1983.
Consisting of only three tracks, “Salome” is about the relationship between the titular character, Salome and John the Baptist. Over the forty minutes of the album, it manages to tell the full story of Salome’s seduction of John, and how her light-hearted foolishness would eventually lead to his death. The title track marks the beginning of the seduction and John’s feelings for the titular character, mainly of lust. A big difference between this track and other Enid tracks is the heavy use of synthesizers and vocals, done by founding member, Stephen Stewart. ‘Sheets of Blue’ depict the aftermath of the seduction, with Stewart being at the forefront for a guitar-oriented track.
The finale of “Salome” is ‘The Change’, which depicts the final days of John in three parts: ‘The Change’ marks the imprisonment of John for denouncing King Herod Antipas’s incestuous marriage to Herodias, Herod’s niece; ‘The Jack’ describes the dance of Salome that ends in her request for John’s execution, which Herodias would tell Salome to ask for, taking advantage of Herod’s drunkenness at the event. Following this, Herod orders for John’s decapitation, despite him being reportedly disgusted at the request. Following his decapitation, John’s head would be brought to Salome on a platter. According to some historians, it is said that Herod had John executed in order to kill any influence he had over the people of Machaerus, leaving the truth of John’s death up to debate. The final part, ‘Flames of Power’, ends the album with the aftermath of the decapitation, making for the quiet finale of the album.
The music in “Salome” was made specifically for the reason of making it the basis of a ballet based on the titular character and John the Baptist, using the three pieces on the album and other material written by the group.
For posterity, the two extras on the most recent re-issue, a revised version of ‘Sheets of Blue’, and the “Enid” version of ‘Salome’, made after the second breakup of The Enid in 1989, are both highly solid tracks, with the latter being as good or possibly better than the original, but more dated due to the flirtation of dance music present in the track, not to mention it is laden with drum machines and synthesizers, but overpowered by vocalist “Kes”, who manages to give an amazing performance.
In retrospect, the ambitions of the group were undeniably big, with the idea of using the music as a starting point for a touring ballet about Salome and having a very different sound than usual. The Enid managed to stay consistent, and for that, they deserve to be listened to at the least.