Review of "Blink Of An Eye" by Progressive World
I feel guilty for reviewing this ahead of things that were released and received long before. But having heard tracks from it live at NEARfest and on - yes - Seismic Radio, I felt compelled to listen to the whole album the moment it arrived on my doorstep. And I'll admit I'm a bit biased, as Enchant play the kind of progressive hard rock that got me hooked on this genre in the first place -- mainly Marillion. In fact, one of the very first reviews I wrote was of Enchant's Blueprint Of The World, so this band has very much been a part of Progressiveworld.net right from the start.
Okay, disclaimer over. I love this album. I don't care if its perfect or not, I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. There are moments where they remind me of the Marillion I miss -- I say moments, which implies a few, but there are many moments, mainly in the guitar playing of Doug Ott. Rothery-esque, yes, but more in the same way that he lets the guitar notes sing. He hasn't lifted any particular Rothery riff. It's heavier than Marillion ever got even at that band's heaviest, but Enchant hasn't, in any way, become a speed metal band. They aren't that heavy.
Though I love the drums that begin "Monday" the combination of elements start out a little awkward. But the piece grows into itself, smoothing out and relaxing into an easier groove. And perhaps because I am living "Monday" at the moment, this track particularly resonates with me. If you feel chained to your job, yearning for something else, you, too, will likely find it resonates.
The album opens with the moving "Under Fire," from which the album's title is drawn, Blink Of An Eye. There is an interesting parallel between this song and the core of Magellan's latest Hundred Year Flood. The latter is an album dedicated by Trent and Wayne Gardner to their brother who was killed in Vietnam. Told from their perspective, we see their brother as they did - in photos and imaginings. Here, we have a soldier's point of view, having discharged his weapon, killing the "enemy." The setting isn't necessarily Vietnam, as the Middle East, Somalia, or Afghanistan could equally be the setting. In fact, the where isn't as important as the fact that it is a place of conflict where a soldier is "humanizing" the enemy his training has taught him to "dehumanize." I'm reading more into the song than is actually there -- rather, reading more deeply, providing a broader context. The song deals with that single moment when the protagonist realizes that "in a blink of an eye I took someone's life..."
The middle part of the album is the "songs of romance" section, though it is not specifically designated as such. It begins with heavy, dark "Seeds Of Hate" (he bails), moves through "Flat Line" (he fears/knows the relationship is ending) and "Follow The Sun" (a relationship on the rocks) and then, shifting gears, "Ultimate Gift" and "My Everafter," the positive, love found type songs. I don't think a concept, in reverse, is implied here. The other view one can take with "Seeds Of Hate" is a bit broader, in leaving not just wife but family. Sort of their "Sugar Mice," thematically, though more a response to a mid-life crisis here. I hardly think that the members of Enchant are old enough for mid-life crises yet, but...In an interview, Ott mentions that, "We try to write about things that move us or we consider worth mentioning. They are partly very personal stories: growing up without a father, the end of a relationship, the new beginning, etc." [from an interview with CMM Online].
"Flat Line" contains some interesting keyboard effects, subtle though they are. Ott guitar lines to get a little shrill at times, but overall and throughout the album, they are mostly warm. Anyone who has visited the Enchant website (and has a sound card and speakers) will have heard the initial keyboard snippet of "Follow The Sun," as it used as the intro music. This is the mellowest that the band get with the mostly acoustic piece. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that Enchant sound like Spock's Beard, there is something similar to their music - that great sense of openness, even on the densest tracks. "Follow The Sun," serves Blink in the same way that, say, "June" serves Kindness.
"Ultimate Gift" is the warmly romantic piece, in the same way as Marillion's "Waiting To Happen" and is also a lot like "Made Again." Like the "Waiting," "Ultimate Gift" contrasts mellow, understated passages with acoustic guitar and voice, with bigger, epic passages with the full band and lovely guitar from Ott. And yet, Ted Leonard does sound a bit like Steve Hogarth, but more so in the way he sings rather than his tone.
They leave this theme with "Invisible," a song, at least how I read it, from the point of view of a homeless person... "Despicable" is the heaviest that Enchant get in this powerful rocker -- this is a massive, ballsy track -- Flanegan's drums driving like spikes, pounded in by Ed Platt's bass. The album ends on this note, and you feel there should be more, given the song doesn't fade out, but ends. There are editions with a bonus track, "Prognosis," though this edition I'm reviewing isn't one of those. At times, it feels like something Steve Walsh would have done on Glossolalia album, Ted sounding a bit like Walsh right there at the end.
There's a reason why this album has been creating a buzz, as it is a very strong release. Though the core of the band's sound is heavy, they leaven it with various shades, which creates depth and dynamics. Well done.