As if you couldn’t guess from the title of the article, this week features the glorious classical rock band known as The Enid. Since www.progstreaming.com and the band are giving listeners the chance to explore several of their most recent releases, I thought I’d make a day out of it and do a double Enid micro-review in hopes that you all will get a chance to enjoy this band just as much as I do, whether you are a seasoned fan or are just beginning to explore their music. Next week we’ll wrap it up with one more review of The Enid, but for now, please satisfy yourself with this taste little morsel featuring one of the greats of British prog, as well as a great French newcomer on the prog scene (relatively, at least compared to The Enid) which caught my attention with their melodic songwriting and modern sensibilities. Enjoy!
The Enid – Invicta
I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about Invicta, the latest release from The Enid. I’ll keep it short and sweet since you’ll likely be seeing a full length article on this bad boy in the new future, but let’s just say for now that Robert John Godfrey and company have certain hit that sweet spot and their artistic production is looking as fine as it ever has. Their latest opus continues to explore territory in which the classical and rock world collide, and do so in glorious ways. While many fans have been raving about the by and large neoclassical piece “The One and the Many,” perhaps due to the enormous vocal talent Joe Payne’s, I for one was especially blown away on the pieces where the band displays a theatrical edge, such as “Who Created Me,” with its musical theater-esque vocals and penetrating lyrics, as well as the ever so memorable “The Villian of Science” which sports both theatricality and even some heavy riffing. Of course, I would not do justice to the album without mentioning the man himself, Mr. Godfrey, and his fine piano playing throughout. With all around performances and moving orchestration, The Enid shows that they still have what it takes. Congrats to them on a fine studio release that leaves us knowing that the future is bright.
The Enid – Live with the CBSO at Symphony Hall
I certainly don’t want to scare anyone off or dissuade any fans of The Enid from purchasing this fine release, but please hear me out to the end. In essence, everything about Live with the CBSO at Symphony Hall is full of all the grandiosity that we have come to expect from The Enid. The orchestration is immaculate, the rock band is perfect in the mix, and the performance by Robert John Godfrey and friends is nothing short of stellar. The kickoff of the album, the opening minutes of Judgement, is just as magnificent and threatening as ever, and the batch of classic favorites from The Enid followed by their recent opus, Journey’s End, of course, is the type of setlist that should please any fan. So, why did I start off this review in a way that may have some of our readership waiting to hear me explain what I believe the downside is? If you enjoy listening to live albums, honestly there is absolutely no downside to this album; pick it up immediately. However, if you don’t like owning live albums that have basically the same material as live DVDs you own because you find that you end up watching the DVD repeatedly instead of listening to the CD, which is basically the same thing but without a visual, I would recommend you just pick up the brilliant DVD entitled The Enid: Live at Town Hall, Birmingham. It contains, by and large, the same set, with some minor differences, or perhaps that’s just more reason to pick up both. Regardless, the quality of the performances and the recording on this album are simply fantastic. If you’re an Enid fan, you can’t go wrong with Live with the CBSO at Symphony Hall.
AmAndA – La Ou Chimene Dort
With influences ranging from Kraftwerk to Queen and beyond, this French sextet took me on a whirl with its third release in 10 years, La Ou Chimene Dort. The first thing that sets La Ou Chimene Dort apart from the competition is variety; these guys simply are all over in terms of sliding betweein styles, including everything bits that recalled to me Krautrock to prog, pop, metal, and even B-movie sountracks. Tracks like “On the Way” will make you bob your head while “Littleton” and “La Ou Chimene Dort” deliver fine vocal lines that will surely stick in your head for a long time. Speaking of stand-out vocals, “Fou” is one of those pieces that caught my attention as it seemed to scream out “French!” with the way it combines sexy piano and orchestration with a passionate vocal delivery embued with a sense of narrative despite the fact that I don’t speak the language. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m a sucker for songs that use bells to enhance the ambiance and power of a piece. Then, there’s one of my favorites, “Le Clone De Monsieur Claude” which starts off very in your face with some heavy riffing but quickly drops the metal in favor of some electric piano augmented by synth that made me grin as I could envision in my mind some great B-science fiction. On the pop side, there’s some nice pieces like “Au Bout De Mae Rou, which is extremely danceable and upbeat. But what really caught my attention in terms of their pop use was “La Ballade de Cornelius Et Zira,” which instantly sounded like what I would imagine Magma to sound like if they were a pop band in the sense that it contains very Magma-like vocal and orchestral power but leans more on the side of stability whereas the fathers of Zeuhl always seem to waltz on the verge of chaos (that is, when they haven’t erupted into chaos). In the end, AmAndA is a band where every melody counts and every instrument is chosen in a way that enhances the melodic line that it expresses as the songs straddle the line between classic and modern approaches.