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Enchant - The Great Divide Review

Posted on September 11, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Prog...with balls

It almost feels like a second coming. A decade since their last work, 2003’s Tug Of War, how good does it feel is to utter the immortal words - Enchant return!? When they appeared in the mid-nineties in what was a bit of a prog revival, they were a band who were building up a healthy reputation and loyal following before taking an extended break, perhaps not deliberate but one which just went on and on..…and on. With The Great Divide they’ve chosen a suitably fitting title for an album which describes the void, yet sees the band coming back as strong as ever.

Masterminded by mainman Doug Ott in his own studio base, the brief tense throb of Circles gives way to a solid keyboard, bass and drum rhythm – “Round and round and round we go, where we stop nobody knows” and “I need a new direction” sings Ted Leonard, reflecting on something which main songwriter Doug Ott has suggested and seeing the band seeing the chance to set out in a new direction on the new record, although it’s distinctly Enchant. Following quickly with the track which has been released as the album taster, Within An Inch, lyrically it explores the experience of coming close to death, with an insistent cry of “Feels like I’m dying” and a guitar motif which recalls mid seventies Genesis (fans might recognise the track I’m thinking of), it’s perhaps not surprising the track has been selected to showcase the new album.

The title track starts off with a flurry and could be how classic seventies Yes might sound like in the 21st century – it’s ‘prog with balls’ – ambitious and atmospheric and with an opening riff which Ott has had swimming round since the age of 17, yet only just found the time and the band who are able to work with it. Not only that, it completes a terrific set of introductory songs which clearly show Enchant back with something worth shouting about.

The lengthy opening trio of tracks find themselves juxtaposed against All Mixed Up whose stomping heavy rhythm combined with a soft bass led interlude across four minutes is combined with another pair of shorter pieces in Transparent Man and Life In A Shadow; the latter being as close as you’re going to get to a love song, yet they go to highlight what Enchant can do in the shorter format as well as with the more extended pieces.

"This is prog with balls, they have returned in clear and confident voice"

Rather like the recent Yes effort, they’ve bookended the album with the epics yet made for an altogether much more consistent piece of work. There’s no filler and throughout the songs are littered with Ott’s guitar and some meaty chunks and lovely runs from Bill Jenkins which are both crammed full of strong melodic hooks. Ted Leonard’s stint with fellow proggers Spock’s Beard also sees him return in clear and confident voice

There’s obviously been some thought in the album sequencing, it’s well paced and from a strong opening, riding a wave until the closing pair Deserve To Feel, which to these ears fades out too soon, just as there’s some fabulous interplay between guitar and keys, and particularly Here And Now make a statement of where Enchant stand in the present day.

Worth the wait? Well, we’ve certainly waited longer for (much) less, and for those with a romantic bent, they do say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but what a pleasure to listen to these songs.

In the days when the old guard are drifting away from their prog roots - the recent Yes album, while being welcome, sees them as mere shadows of their former selves and Genesis simply rehash the old archive (or should that be ‘R-Kive’ – urgh) - be thankful for the likes of the old guard in IQ and new pretenders like Empty Yard Experiment and Enchant for delivering some prog with balls. 

Words: Mike Ainscoe 

Categories: CD REVIEWS

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