The Enid: Invicta
  • Production
  • Composition
  • Originality
  • Musicianship
  • Theatrical Vocals

Life’s full of surprises, some good, others not so good. The Enid’s latest album, released in late 2012, was one of those good surprises. With a career that’s pushing 40 years and 17 studio albums, its pure magic that Robert John Godfrey and the clan sound as fresh today as they do. Invicta does a phenomenal job at giving us Enid fans what I believe most of us were hoping for: something that sounds like the new Enid, but retains the grandeur and mystery of early like In the Region of the Summer StarsInvicta does just that.

The album intro is an explosion that releases the darkness before a gorgeous sunrise of RJG’s piano on the first track as it segueways into classically inspired solo chamber voice. I’ve seen “The One and the Many” showing up on “favorites lists” this year, which surprised me a bit given the rather conservative nature of the piece; while its a wonderful piece of music, it seemed to be more in the new age classical domain rather than The Enid’s signature classical rock sound. Once again, I’m not saying that this isn’t a fantastic piece of music; on the contrary, it’s inspiring. The Enid has grabbed up an enormous vocal talent by the name of Joe Payne, who’s falsetto on this piece is so gorgeous as to make you believe that we are listening to a woman sing the tender neo-baroque inspired lines of a piece which finishes off  strong with a number of dramatic orchestra blasts that lead us to an uplifting major chord.

“Who Created Me” was the first piece that really leaped out and grabbed me by the throat, due by and large to it’s dramatic, theatrical vocals which go far beyond singing; Payne does a marvelous job at truly interpreting the lyrics on this composition. As the singing goes on, we get bits of orchestration interspersed between vocals which eventually lead us into the entrance of the rock band on the chorus before taking flight into the second verse. At this point, the combination between rock and symphonic music is deadly powerful as it takes us on a trip into dark, thought provoking music. In a similar vein, “Villain of Science” is an extremely enjoyable journey into a sort of musical theater-esque expression of a lyrical and melodic focus. The piece abounds with musical motifs which  bump up against vocal lines that are non-repetitive but extremely memorable. Add to all that a powerful chorus which is packed with heavy guitars and symphonic expression, and we couldn’t ask for a more rounded piece of music.

“Execution Mob” initially caught me off guard with its opening acapella vocals and a tone and direction which is radically more playful than previous pieces. On the other hand, the follow up, “Witch Hunt,” becomes immediately more serious, evoking a sort of film soundtrack feel with steady percussion and sweeping brass, augmented by large Enid style vocal harmonies that we all love. I must say that there are brilliant moments around the middle of this track where chord changes combine with vocals for an uplifting experience. Juxtapose a little prog metal riffing in seven towards the end with the vocals and orchestration and you’ve got yourself a solid closing to a great song. The opening lines of “The Whispering” immediately let us know that this is going to be a solid closer to a fantastic Enid album. Romantic in expression, soft in approach, and full, yet subtle, harmonized vocals mixed with restrained orchestration make “The Whispering” a fine farewell to the album. As the solo vocals emerge in the second half, The Enid prepare to give one final bow before the music fades.

I gotta hand it to these guys, apart from their tireless effort to revitalize the band in recent years, I can honestly say that they’re coming to that point where they sound better than ever, both in composition and recording quality. They’ve landed some key elements they always needed: production quality to do their massive sound justice, and a mind-blowing singer to make their tunes really soar. Well, my friends, The Enid now has both.

 Listen to Invicta for a limited time on progstreaming.com!