Review of "Blink Of An Eye" by United Fanzine
Finally, ENCHANT are back! The best American progressive rock band returns with the fifth full-length studio album, Blink of an Eye. Featuring the new drummer Sean Flannegan (formerly with DALI'S DILEMMA) and a welcome return of the bassist Ed Platt, the new album sees the band taking a step into a different direction. The music is strongly marked by the absence of a 'real' keyboard player (Michael Geimer has left the band for good!) and by heavier drums (Paul Craddick's drumming is greatly missed, nevertheless, two major thumbs up for Sean).
What to say about the album? After a prolonged exposure to the music, I have only good things to say (as it's always the case with ENCHANT). The album opens with Under Fire, a heavy foot-stomping composition that, nevertheless, has a very tricky time signature, nicely punctuated by crunching guitars and playful bass. The bridge to chorus is just typical ENCHANT, and you just know that the chorus is going to blow you away. And it does. It is a trademark ENCHANT sound with Doug's beatific acoustic guitars, Ed's low bass, soft keyboards gently caressing the melody, Sean riding the cymbals just right, and altogether enwrapped by Ted's (still) amazing vocals! The composition progresses through a superb guitar solo to a climactic ending that repeats and elongates the chorus with slight alterations, i.e. Sean gaining some speed and Doug swirling away on guitar. The opening track is really great once you get used to it, but it might sound a bit heavy at first.
However, it is important that you do not get repelled by it; some people I know did that. Their loss, I guess. The drums with tribal percussive element introduce Monday, the second composition that is already a high-class, A-material, bona-fide ENCHANT composition. A real treat for all the fans, this unbelievably cool and chilling masterpiece of musical composition will send many a shiver down your spine. I just don't know, which aspect should I point out. Maybe Ted's vocals that are pure heavenly joy to the ear (and the heart), or Doug's ethereal guitars that keep you on the edge; meanwhile, the rhythm section does a splendid job by keeping the composition firmly rooted while up high, there is a unforgettable display of light and beauty. Monday is one of those 'immortal' tracks that make ENCHANT what they are: the best band ever! No band has ever maintained such a high-level of virtuoso musicianship, such a devout appreciation to the melodic aspect of the composition,
such a fragile lyrical balance between the darkest fears of our souls and the brightest joys of our spirits, such a innovative approach to life where they grasp the mundane idea of going back every Monday to wherever you are, and easily elevating it to tremendous heights. Pure poetry in motion. By the way, if this were only a single release, and Monday a B-side, it would be enough! This alone makes this album their best ever and it is only the second track.
Things get even more dramatic by the time Seeds of Hate hits the speakers. It initially starts very heavily, with thumping drums, shredding guitars and mumbling bass, but when Ted begins to sing, the composition becomes more melodic, with muted guitars and surprising bass lines that are the proof Ed is back for good (he actually makes the bass accompany Ted's singing). In the chorus there is already a lot going on, Sean delivers some pretty nasty beats, his timing is perfect, the precision is astounding. After a repeat of the verse, we get to the middle part where Ed introduces some damn good bass lines, worthy of his skillful bass techniques, and we get our eyes open by a spiraling guitar and keyboards solos. Sean and Ed are in the background, never keeping still but rather implementing furious progressive elements into the musical composition. Seeds of Hate is one more perfect composition in the ENCHANT repertoire and has already proved to be a favourite among many fans.
Flat Line is, in my opinion, the composition with the least appeal. I have really tried to grasp the meaning of it, listened to it many times, viewing it from many angles, but to no avail. Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, probably it's just the fact there are so many great compositions on Blink of an Eye, it simply doesn't get through to me. But, it does have a great guitar solo, there's no denying that.
Right after this one, we get to Follow the Sun, a ballad, the ballad, the ENCHANT ballad. And you all know what that means. It was written by Doug right after Paul Craddick left the band, when the future of the band looked rather bleak. It was meant to lift up the spirits, intended for the remaining band members. However, it has grown larger and it is definitely the best ballad this band has ever produced. Subtle, gentle and with more melody than you can imagine. A lengthy piece of music is all you ever wanted in a ballad, its powers are healing, soothing and it sounds as if made with love. Composition-wise, it has no loose ends, it is well-written, superbly crafted and magnificently performed. Excellent, indeed! Another heartfelt and very emotional composition is Ultimate Gift, which is a very lengthy piece of music (almost eight minutes long!). Ted's enchanting vocal performance is elegantly fused with simple yet very efficient keyboards while the rhythm section sways to and fro,
keeping the melody alive; also, the guitar bits are unusually sharp even though there's not much fretwork at all, and there's a lot of cymbal-work as far as drums are concerned. Shortly, it is a great semi-ballad that will win over many new fans and one of those songs that grab you instantly, and get under your skin pretty fast.
The second part of the album with the remaining four compositions is surely to cause many repeats as it takes a while to get them in their entirety. The more progressive approach to song structure (as it's the case with older ENCHANT material) is superbly presented in My Everafter, a classic composition with a sharp-edged intro, a mellow middle section where Ted sings ever so beautifully, and provides one more proof that he is the best vocalist in this genre. During the solos, Doug speeds up the whole composition in a thrilling interplay with keyboards. Also, a great performance is noted by Sean, a drummer in a league of his own - Sean, welcome to ENCHANT! The more progressive aspect is continued with Invisible, a quite different composition with a really odd time signature intro, yet it still has that unmistakable flavour, mainly because of Ted's vocals, Doug's gentle guitars and wanton rhythm section (I mean, Ed and Sean really burn!!!).
Even more unusual is Despicable, a speedy, foot-stomping, cross-over composition with almost angelic verse, a rocking chorus and a heavy duty solo. It is an innovative mix of many genres and, undoubtedly, one of the most surprising and captivating songs on the whole album, just let it in. I know I had to listen to it five or six times before it really hit me.
For the end, there's the best. The limited version of the album includes Prognosis, a seven minute heavy, progressive rock instrumental that is action-packed and full of Doug's classic guitar licks, Ed's masterful bass lines and Sean's driving drums. The music will raise your hair, as it is the most thrilling, culminating, erratic, exploding and enchanting instrumental piece of music this band has ever produced! I mean, just listen to the pattern, the way how it is constructed, the way it progresses, transforms and never lets go off the central theme. The somewhat melancholic melody fits perfectly into the background and it is there all the way. Once more, the composition may take a little while to get accustomed to, especially as it's really heavy (some hard-core ENCHANT fans don't like it!) but, do not, I repeat, do not buy the regular album, get the limited one with the bonus included. Don't miss out Prognosis as it is surely one of the best tracks I've heard this year!
All in all, the new album is ENCHANT at its best even though two original founding members left the band, ENCHANT managed to bounce back even better, bigger, even more glorious! Blink of an Eye is a well-rounded piece of music, with great production, superb musicianship (undeniable genius!), interesting and captivating compositions, and a real life-like feel to it (no dragons or pimps here). Hats off to the band, and many personal thanx for a decade of great, great music. ENCHANT is in a league of its own!