Review Summary: Uniting the classical world with rock music for the better...
January 1, 1975 – New Years’ Day. One Peter Roberts, vocalist for the burgeoning classically-infused progressive rock collective The Enid, committed suicide. In the midst of crafting what was to be their debut, the band and founder Robert John Godfrey now were at an unfortunate point in their infancy. Not only did they lose a friend, but also a vital asset to the band that was still growing as a unit. In a situation where most bands would immediately fold in respect of the dead or because of the difficulties in replacing a deceased key member, The Enid strove onward. This unexpected development led to what was to be The Enid’s debut album to completely overhauled and reconstructed to be purely and absolutely instrumental. A concept loosely based on the tarot cards, mostly focused on the “Major Arcana” – ”the lovers, the tower, death, judgment, the fool, and so on”
– In The Region of the Summer Stars
was the end result of a three year quest to unite classical music with rock, all the while without pretensions that plagued the progressive rock genre.
At a very refined thirty-nine minutes, Region
makes haste with the concept presented before the listener from the very start of the silent classical piano of ”Fool”
, a prelude that eases the listener into what is to come with the Bartok-inspired ”The Falling Tower”
, an explosive opener that essentially shows off The Enid as a tightly-knit unit that sounds far from a relatively new band, but rather as veterans of their craft. Robert Godfrey, keyboardist of the group, often has his moments to shine throughout the album; most certainly on ”The Lovers”
, a romantic piano piece that is subtly complimented with quelled guitars and hefty percussion that Rachmaninov would be proud of. The heavier side of the band certainly shines through with ”Death, The Reaper”
and ”The Devil”
, the former showcasing guitarists Francis Lickerish and Stephen Stewart, the latter presenting the prowess of bassist Glen Tollet and drummer Dave Storey.
Whereas the first half of Region
was an exhibition of the individual skills of the band, the second uses an eighteen minute sequence (“The Sun/The Last Judgment/In The Region of the Summer Stars”)
to flawlessly execute a proper display of The Enid’s potential as an up-and-coming progressive rock band. Increasingly classical in theme, the sequence’s dynamics begin quite quietly as ”The Sun”
is the calm before the storm that is ”The Last Judgement”
, a piece inspired by the “Dies Irae”
. Consisting of a percussive march-like beat akin to Holst’s ”Mars”
that segues into a slow, powerful crescendo as the instruments become intonated with one another, "Judgement"
's buildup and subsequent crescendos creates a breathtaking climax. The final piece of this sequence, ”In The Region of the Summer Stars”
makes use of every bit of time it is allotted, each instrument playing with the main theme of the piece, especially the guitar duo of Lickerish and Stewart.
The journey to unite classical music with rock music, albeit without pretentious showmanship and themes that often served to be a hindrance to progressive rock was The Enid’s lone purpose, and despite the hardships the band experienced in the making of In The Region of the Summer Stars
, it is safe to say they certainly accomplished what they set out to achieve. A loss of a vocalist is a hard thing to get over. Falling apart as a result is without a doubt an extremely difficult obstacle to steer clear of. Yet, with all of the options The Enid could’ve pondered, they decided to go on in order to complete what they saw as an important piece of music. Quite honestly, it is for the best that The Enid decided to go onward. Who knows what could’ve been without them.