Review Summary: This child of time shall weep no more...
Shortly after the tour for the spiritually-themed double album ”The Spell”
, Robert John Godfrey and Stephen Stewart returned to the studio once more to record The Enid’s seventh album, ”Salome”
. Like the several albums before it, ”Salome”
was a concept album based on the biblical tale of Salome, the temptress, and John the Baptist, a holy man. The release of the album led to astounding controversy and protest against the band. “We’ve managed to offend both feminists and the God squad” Godfrey doted at the time of the album’s release. The controversy did little to ebb the support of the album and its subsequent tour, which included an ambitious ballet scored to the album, and was performed at the annual Hammersmith show that year to great success. If anything, the band was at its peak in popularity.
Despite the history of Salome and John the Baptist, ”Salome”
doesn’t stray too far from its source material, essentially making the album a contemporary interpretation of the tryst between the lovers. The title track, sung by guitarist Stephen Stewart, gives a new-wavish feel to the band’s usual sound – oddly dominant in synthesizers, and lacking in guitars, which are replaced with light percussion and lush backing vocals – a major departure from The Enid of past times. The track story-wise, is a lamentation by John towards the titular character proclaiming of how “your love is killing me” and how “you and I shall bow before the mystery of suffering”. Salome is shown to have seduced John, and his reaction shows great despair over what could happen to him. ”Sheets of Blue”
and ”Dance Music”
showcase the duo’s individual skill while telling the story of Salome. While the former is a guitar-oriented effort, an interlude of sorts to the story of Salome – mostly written by Godfrey; the latter is a three-part epic depicting the imprisonment of John, his beheading, and the aftermath of his execution. The album doesn’t fully explain just how
John got into this fatal event, one must read the writing that this album is fully based on: the New Testament’s interpretation of the dance Salome gave for her step-father King Herod. At this event, Herod promised Salome anything she wanted if she danced for him. Her mother, Herodias, convinced the girl to ask for John’s head. The reason for this being that Herodias held great hatred for John ever since he stated that Herodias’ marriage was unlawful. Now, the point where all that information is placed in the story that The Enid put to tape is unfortunately confusing. ”Dance Music”
showcases Godfrey’s compositional skill yet again, showing efficiency on his array of keyboards and synthesizers. The final part, ”Flames of Power”
is a mournful, but romantic piece that goes up there with the other great Godfrey compositions such as ”Chaldean Crossing”
and ”The Lovers”
– the use of Godfrey’s falsetto range is put to the test, and adds an air of finality to the piece.
For all it did right, the album had quite a few flaws, mostly in its sound. It can be said the band took a steep right turn in sound, and took to “updating” their sound – making the album sound dated and a capsule of the decade long gone. Another criticism is the track lengths. Containing only three tracks, all of which go over ten minutes in length, and contain some repetition that can be exhausting to some. ”Salome”
is a natural – albeit, odd – progression for the band known to stray from being labelled “progressive rock” exclusively.
Following the release of the album, the band went on tour – some shows featuring the aforementioned ballet. Considered the band’s most ambitious tour (up until the upcoming ”The Bridge”
tour in 2015) yet, the tour was a smash hit. Trouble, unfortunately was waiting to rear its face to greet Godfrey and Stewart yet again.
To be continued…