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Eloy - The Vision the Sword and the Pyre (Part I) CD (album) cover

THE VISION THE SWORD AND THE PYRE (PART I)

Eloy

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.48 | 81 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars If you found the most fascinating part of ELOY's classic album "Ocean" to be the narrative of "Atlantis Agony", then stop reading NOW and go buy their latest release. Here on part 1 of what is already an interminable series, ELOY has not only perfected the drone of those spoken parts but has expanded it to include most of the purportedly "sung" sections. Moreover, while I was not a proponent of the previous Jeanne D'Arc escapades on prior ELOY albums, it's rather telling that the most indelible melody in over 60 minutes running time is recycled from "The Company of Angels", one of the more average numbers on a much better album from 1994, "The Tides Return Forever".

If this was a soundtrack to a film about Miss Joan, I might leave the theatre with a lukewarm impression of the music, but, without those visuals, all I can acknowledge is snippets of interest in a similar vein to the real deal on prior ELOY albums, but without the wisdom with which they were assembled on those releases. "The Vision The Sword and the Pyre" isn't truly awful as music, but as art it's an abject failure, for its perspective on the story being told doesn't even begin to motivate me to learn more about the history and legend behind its protagonist. I'm just sorry she had to remain a virgin for this!

"The Vision the Sword and the Pyre" peddles excess partisanship (how many times do we need to hear how much the poor people were suffering under tyrannical rule?), breaches unwritten limits for self-importance even in prog rock (the one light moment is in the title "The Age of the Hundred Years War"), and commits the gravest sin of interspersing the narrative everywhere, such that no amount of editing can salvage the two or three sparsely interspersed transcendent moments. Even the sung vocals are enunciated with robotic charm, as if all singers were taught their parts phonetically. Unfortunately, this may have much to do with a vastly reduced range in Frank Bornemann's voice, resulting in the neutering of compositions and arrangements. Even so, that doesn't explain the utter lack of memorable instrumental passages, just beguilingly consistent mediocrity from start to finish, with ersatz rhythm guitars and occasional humdrum lead guitar and synth solos. Any individual track might be viewed as a minor misstep on a prior album, but together they are like lemmings who can't reach the precipice fast enough for my own sanity.

I'm an ELOY fan for 25+ years, and, though I've given this epic more time than it deserves, it's not growing on me in a good way. I'm also utterly shocked that so many (but not all) respected websites and reviewers are glowing with praise. For me, this is one of the worst albums in a distinguished career and, as such, merits somewhere between 1 and 2 stars, rounded up because it seems that a lot of fans are on board, but I think that's a triumph of illusion over vision.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |

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