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The Enid - Invicta CD (album) cover

INVICTA

The Enid

 

Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 163 ratings

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Master of Time
5 stars I was quite pleasantly surprised by this album, I have been jaded to The Enid with vocals for a long time and always wrote them off as weak and taking away from the music, but this album is very different. With the addition of vocalist Joe Payne, The Enid finally has vocalist with talent to match the rest of the band. The vocalist from Journey's End, Max Read, is still here but he does mostly backing vocals now along with some additional guitar work as The Enid did always tend to have a duel guitar set up. I originally thought that they were using an actual orchestra, having thought I read that somewhere, but it seems that Robert is just getting better at mimicking the sound.

The album starts off with the short introductory piece "Anthropy." It takes about 30 seconds to build up until crashing loudly into the quiet sound of a choir and then slowly fading out. This is followed by the 10 minute track "One and the Many." This admittedly took a few plays to get into, but when I did I realized how beautiful a track this is. This track shows off Joe Payne's impressive falsetto, which at first I thought was actually a woman singing and then realized it was just Joe and his falsetto. I found this odd at first but I warmed up to it. Eventually deeper vocals join in with Joe's falsetto sounding even more operatic and very much like church music. Joe's operatic voice works very well with RJG's piano and the sound of Robert's orchestration. About 8 minutes in when I'm just starting to lose a little interest Joe's voice drops down to normal and it gives a very powerful effect. He has a remarkable voice and this sections captivates me. The backing choir vocals come back and the orchestra sounds get more powerful ending with bombastic bursts that surprise you. It may have taken a few listens to fully appreciate this song but once you let this song take it's full effect it's quite remarkable.

The next song is called "Who Created Me?' which shows off Joe's natural vocals. His vocal are theatrical and sound as if he should be on Broadway. This song immediately clicked for me on first listen, with Joe's fantastic vocals taking me by surprise. The instrumentation side however is not lacking, even if the song does focus on Joe's vocals. RJG's dramatic piano work does a great job of creating a dramatic mood along with the vocals. Not much guitar work is included in the song until the end when it builds up to a beautiful guitar solo showing just how talented the band is. This segues into the song "Execution Mob," starting off in what sounds like a carnival until church bell start to ring and the vocals kick in. These vocals are not the same however, and sound more like the Enid vocals of old, with multiple people harmonizing on vocals here. however these vocals work well here. It actually kind of shows The Enid's quirkier side. The song then ends how it started with the sound church bells before dramatically segueing into Witch Hunt. Joe is back here in parts, sharing with Max, but it sounds as if he is mimicking the old style as of The Enid's vocals much like the previous track, however as it did before these work spectacularly. The song has a sense of urgency throughout, and the guitar is more prevalent as is the sounds of the orchestration. I feel like every time I listen to his song the more I find to love about it. It soon changes from the more dramatic sound to a brighter sound, reminding me of "Raindown" from Something Wicked This Way Comes. Then suddenly frantic guitar comes in and the orchestra sounds pick up the powerful and dramatic sound from earlier on. This track does a fantastic job of showing the guitar talent in this band, especially in showing how well it works coupled with RJG's orchestration.

After that powerful track we have the instrumental "Heaven's Gate," a very atmospheric track, using RJG's synthesizer heavily. The track doesn't really change much until about 2 and half minutes in when the orchestra sounds are introduced. Their involvement increases over time, eventually introducing guitar into the mix. About 6 minutes in I find myself getting tired and it then fades back in to the atmospheric sound from the beginning though with the guitar staying in to add a more dramatic effect. Then with about a minute and a half left the orchestra sounds come powerfully back in, making the hair on the back of my neck stand up. This piece, like "One and the Many," took a few listens to fully appreciate. Following "Heaven's Gate" is another initially synth driven track, "Leviticus." Joe and Max are back with Joe's voice sounding as it did on "Who Created Me?" His powerful and emotional vocals never fail to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The guitar here is very reminiscent of the guitar work on older album like In the Region... and Aerie Faerie Nonsense. About 3 minutes and 45 seconds in the guitar and orchestra sounds start building up together producing a powerful effect. I can't say enough how much I love Joe's vocals on this album, they are so powerful and effective, I think he has already made in the ranks of my favorite vocalists.

With the next track, "Villain of Science," you can tell we're nearing the end. This song is another dramatic and theatrical performance like "Who Created Me?" which it reprises at that end. This is another track that immediately clicked with me. The song in parts sounds as if it wouldn't be out of place in Sweeney Todd. It shows Joe's range extremely well. It is an extremely playful and adventurous song, with the RJG's orchestrations at bombastic best, being backed with RJG's regular keyboard work and Jason Ducker's playful guitar riffs. About 3 minutes and 45 seconds in, followed by powerful vocals from Joe, Jason comes in with a haunting guitar solo reminiscent of Steve Hackett. It then finishes with reprisal of some of the lyrics from "Who Created Me?" and segues into the beautiful closing track "The Whispering." The vocals here sound like a church choir but they work well, with Joe's vocals still sticking out amongst them, showing off his falsetto again in some sections. It is a peaceful ending to the album, but it works extremely well.

I was initially going to give this album 4 stars, but the more I listen to it the more I realize that this a perfect album, and I can't give it anything lower than a perfect score. This easily the best album The Enid has released since Francis Lickerish left the band in the early 80s. I recommend this to anyone who can get their hands on it, and to any fans of the old Enid who have yet to try out this new incarnation, I recommend you get this album for you will not be disappointed.

Master of Time | 5/5 |

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