The British band The Enid made a comeback into the progressive rock scene in 2009 with the album Arise And Shine (see review) and since then two brand new studio albums have been released. Journey's End (see review) in 2010 and Invicta (see review) in 2012. On their latest release they also introduced a new member to their fans; lead singer Joe Payne. He already had a rather large role on this album. Now on the band's follow up album The Bridge you could say that he has totally integrated into the band, because he is probably next to founding member and keyboard player Robert John Godfrey the most important person to appear on this in 2015 released album. I will tell you why in a moment!
First I have to mention that strangely enough the new album is not a very long one. It is as if Mr. Godfrey still lives in the seventies. The band's debut In the Region Of The Summer Stars was released in 1976 and lasted almost 39 minutes. In those days not much more music could be displayed on a vinyl long player. And believe it or not The Bridge has a total time of 38 minutes of music. I guess Robert might have thought not more music is required to put on the new album! Well, times have changed and nowadays the standard is one whole hour of music. Nevertheless fans all around the world are glad the band is still alive and comes up with releases every once in a while. Therefore I don't take it too hard that not more music could be enjoyed on The Bridge. Although you might think in the three years between this album and its predecessor more new music could have been written, but the music that we do get is the most important of all. The second strange thing is that no drummer can be heard on the entire album! Their in the seventies well known drummer Dave Storey is not mentioned in the credits at all. I guess Godfrey chose to keep it rather mellow and laid back this time. No real tempo was needed to tell what he wanted to tell with his music. This time he was also the main composer because he was responsible for eight of the nine compositions. Only First Light was written by Max Read, who was responsible for the choir and programming on the album. Next to the already mentioned Payne, Godfrey and Read only one other musician can be heard on The Bridge. This is guitarist Jason Ducker. He is certainly present on the album, but as mentioned earlier, mainly the vocals of Joe Payne and the keyboards and orchestration of Robert John Godfrey are responsible for the musical mood on this release. A mood that moves towards a very romantic, orchestral, passionate and bitter sweet sound. The use of the piano and the over all orchestral sound many times moves the music towards classical music. Other times the music moves towards musical or opera. Godfrey's compositions have a lot of nostalgia, sentimentality and drama, but also genuine, heartfelt farewell pain which dominates the album. This is presented very sympathetically by Joe Payne, with a lot of feeling for drama and passion. All of the eight compositions are of a very high level and are certainly worth listening to, but probably only if you are in the mood to listen to this laid back and mellow kind of music. Those who like it that the bands goes into higher gear by doing some up tempo pieces now and then are into a real musical surprise. Your feet just stay on the ground this time around. No tapping along with the strong beat made by the rhythm section. This just can't be done because no rhythm section is included.
The track list on the cover says there are eight tracks on the album. However one hidden bonus tracks can be enjoyed as well. It is titled Silence and lasts almost two minutes. It has the same kind of music that can be heard on the rest of the album. Therefore it is a bit strange that it wasn't mentioned at all. This hidden track is the band's way of saying “thank you” to all of the people who supported them by buying this album. It isn't there for them to brag about or draw attention to. It is simply a nice gesture which will surprise and bring joy to many people when they discover it.
It may also look strange that the band's latest addition to the line up Dominic Tofield, who replaced bassist and percussionist Nic Willes, didn´t play on the album! However he certainly worked hard to give this album something extra. Not music wise but in an artistic way; he designed the amazing artwork of the album.
The Bridge is certainly another high levelled product made by The Enid. A product on which mainly Joe Payne and Robert Godfrey are the two protagonists. If you like the band's older music which didn't contain the more up tempo pieces and moved more towards classical music you will certainly enjoy this release as much as I did!
With The Bridge the band started the first part of a trilogy. This is a set of albums used to focus on the musical development of the youngest members of The Enid. The first was used to help to develop the fabulous voice of Joe Payne. The next one will focus on Jason Ducker's development as a guitarist. I am already looking forward to this second part of the trilogy and hopefully will be as good as the first part! This certainly is an outstanding achievement!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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