Review of "Tug Of War" by progpower.com
Enchant is a band synonymous with releasing quality progressive rock albums with a variety of influences. Whilst lumped in the same category as Dream Theater, Threshold, and Spock’s Beard, Enchant have generally embraced the non-standard when it came to musical creation and this transcends to their latest studio album - Tug of War.
This is definitely one of the quickest turnarounds for Enchant as it was only a year ago that brought us the impressive Blink of an Eye. First impressions of Tug of War was that this album was considerably similar to their previous three albums (the aforementioned Blink of an Eye, Juggling 9 or Dropping 10 (2000) and Break (1998)) but the more I listen to it the more subtleties have revealed themselves from a band dripping with unchained talent.
At the forefront of Enchant is the very honest Ted Leonard, a favourite vocalist of mine, who sings intimate lyrics with desired passion. The ballad ‘Beautiful’ (a self-fulfilling description I can assure you) shows the warmth in his voice with trademark poetic penmanship one of the strongest elements to a band who show amazing depth of character when it comes to lyrical content. Reading Enchant lyrics is like reading a letter to a loved one - heartfelt, sincere and, at times, fiery.
The song structures are quite familiar although the humorously titled instrumental ‘Progtology’ (ouch!) is a tad repetitive but one of the more progressive songs on the album (surely an oxymoron? - Ed). Speaking of progressive, the expressive ‘Queen of the Informed’, driven by a strong guitar riff (Doug Ott) with the ever clear bass provided by Ed Platt, is one of the highlights of the album (all recorded, as usual, in HDCD format). Bill Jenkins, their new keyboardist, whilst contributing little in the writing phase on Tug of War, has delivered a confident assault of varied and eager strokes with some very diverse moments arriving in the form of ‘Holding the Wind’ and the finale ‘Comatose’ whose emotion reminds me of back-catalogue Enchant numbers like ‘The Thirst’, ‘Acquaintance’, and ‘What to Say’. Typically for Enchant, many of the lengthier songs are involved and diverse, giving room for everybody to showcase their skills.
But for me it always comes back to Mr. Leonard whose vocal melodies hold this together so eloquently.
Overall, this is a very diverse album for Enchant. There’s heavy and riff-dominant tracks like the opening duo of ‘Sinking Sand’ and ‘Tug of War’ whilst the conceptually inviting ‘Living in a Movie’ highlights the scope of Enchant. The more ambient and poppy tracks like ‘Beautiful’, ‘Holding the Wind’, and in the inspirational ‘Comatose’ are a nice contrast to an album that never sits still. And it’s nice (read: bizarre) to hear guitarist Doug Ott belt out a few vocal notes on the track ‘See No Evil’, one of the less typical songs for Enchant but also one of the albums highlights.
Tug of War is very rhythmical and a highly enjoyable album. Fans of Enchant will lap it up but for those looking for something ‘different‘ from what they’ve done in the past then you may have to dig a little deeper to find the gem that is hidden here.