Many bands claim to be Symphonic Rock, the blending of classical style with modern instruments to create an orchestral experience. Of all these, only The Enid create something that is unique and powerful, although that is not to deny the majesty of many of the others. Saying that, The Enid experience is such that they have effectively created their own sub-genre. And so to Dust.
Dust is the third part of the cycle that began in 2010 with Journey’s End, progressed in 2012 with Invicta and mulled around a bit during The Bridge tour as the elements that culminated in Dust were drawn together. All is good in the world of the Enidi, Joe Payne joining the band in 2011 at which point the progression seems to have truly begun. Robert John Godfrey’s vision was always beyond the beginning of Journey’s End, and Joe’s arrival seems to have been the catalyst. These elements have been duly noted, gaining several awards in the Prog Magazine annual poll for 2015; Vocals: Joe, Keyboards: Robert.
Classically trained, Robert is acknowledged as one of the foremost composers of the 20th/21st Century and honours abound. Having announced, just prior to this release, his retirement from live performance, Robert is now squirreled away working on his Piano Concerto and, given the beauty of the keyboards passages performed live, it will be something to look forward to.
I asked Joe Payne about the end of the three album cycle, did it feel good to finish and what next for The Enid?
“Dust is the end of the trilogy, with the aim of developing my vocals, we now move on, with In The Region of Summer Stars, a follow up to The Bridge, and planning to tour the trilogy in 2017. The next Enid album will be about developing Jason’s guitar work, so the focus will change.”
My introduction to the modern Enid came on a cold January night in Tavistock and The Bridge show. My ’70s revolved around Genesis, Yes, a few others, and bands like The Enid were of interest but on the periphery. At Tavistock I was pretty much blown away, the combination of music, imagery and theatre, orchestrated by Joe, with Robert acting as patriarch over the proceedings in a small and intimate venue, with the able support of the assembled Enidi; Max, Jason, Dave and Nic. Some of Dust was already part of that show, hence the metaphor, I suppose, of The Bridge. I bought Invicta that evening and my fall into the world of The Enid was complete; the modern Enid had begun.
Dust carries on where Invicta left off, opening in true symphonic style. There is a touch of West Side Story and other classic musicals about it, and it is an album that looks to and acknowledges the past as well as the future. Nods to, if not mentions of, the 1975 band, with songs and titles referenced in the lyrics.
With his five octave range the comparisons with the late Freddie Mercury continue, and having been on a Queen nostalgia trip recently I can say that I think Joe’s voice is more controlled; it’s similar, but equally not the same. A unique sound that contributed to his second award win for Prog vocalist in 2016.
The album opens and pulls no punches, this is full-on symphonic with just a hint of musical, music written to support the visual of a show. From the opener we move on to the anthemic Someone Shall Rise; this is a song I have enjoyed live, but here it seems to lack a little of that drive of the live performance. It remains a good song, but here a tad flat. It is probably my comparative with the live rather than any fault of the track but there, I’ve said it; it is better live. So strike me down and call me a penguin.
I asked Joe why it sounded so different to recent performances; “The song was probably recorded about 18 months ago, and in the time in between we have continued to develop as a band”. So there you have it, evolution continues within The Enid. I must try to keep up.
The songs that seem to me to be paying their respects to early Enid are Monsters and 1000 Stars, reflections on Aerie Faerie Nonsense and In the Region of Summer Stars. I listen through but not in 5.1 sound, so many little nuances, and best heard loud; it seems that the sound is full, when the world is full.
Trophy returns us to the classical arrangement, from space opera to something of a 1930s feel but with a seamless join. A rock version of Les Miserable? It shouldn’t work, everything says no and yet it does. It has grown on me a lot, as part of the triumvirate it is very good, though I find Invicta more assessable.
And so all things must pass and Heavy Hearts, perhaps the most poignant song and with added meaning as at the time of the draft for this piece Robert announced his live retirement, so yes, the Heart is Heavy. However, if you are going to bow out then Dust is a grand way to go. There does remain the promise of more from The Enid, visits to earlier works in need of some TLC, but as a legacy the current incarnation of the band is rather excellent, a monument to the part of the progressive genre that is Symphonic Rock.
The Enid encapsulate a multitude of influences, from many decades, genre’s and more. Joe describes it more as Progressive Art than music, using all the media available to them to bring together The Enid experience, so the future will no doubt hold more visual art interpretations. The current Enid will continue to acknowledge their past, The Enid of old, but they will also continue to tell the story in their own way.
Buy it? This is the end of three, so yes for that alone. It will stand equally as one album, but has a “Marmite” quality too and not everyone will enjoy the pomp that goes with it. I do.
01. Born In The Fire (8:00)
02. Someone Shall Rise (5:11)
03. Monsters (5:25)
04. 1000 Stars (7:01)
05. When The World Is Full (5:20)
06. Trophy (6:00)
07. Heavy Hearts (5:31)
Total Time – 42:37
Joe Payne – Lead Vocals
Robert John Godfrey – Keyboards & Orchestration
Jason Ducker – Guitars & Bass
Max Read – Choir & Programming
Nic Willes – Bass, Guitar & Orchestral Percussion
Dave Storey – Drums
Dominic Tofield – Drums (track 2)
Zach Bullock – Keyboards (track 3)
Record Label: Independent
Date Of Release: 1st April 2016