Enchant - Break

Year of Release: 1998
Label: InsideOut Music
Catalog Number: IOMCD028
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:06:00

With Enchant scheduled for the 2002 edition of NEARfest, and with Break patiently waiting for review ever since the kind folks at InsideOut Music America sent this to me (longer ago than I care to admit, but not as long ago as its 1998 release date), I knew it was time for me sit down and give this disk a listen. Well, more than one listen, of course. In answer to a question I posed in my review of 2000's Juggling 9 Or Dropping 10, I'm not sure that that was entirely a reaction to how this album was received upon release. The thing that struck me most is that there is a great deal promise in the music here, but there's something missing. Like a few tweaks would have made this a disk that really stood out. Looking at the poll results currently on the band's website (as of this writing), this album tied with Wounded and Time Lost for third place among fan favourites (Juggling received top honors).

The playing is solid, though I think the even tone of the production obscures a lot of what should shine through. They aren't quite metal and not quite prog rock, which I guess puts them in the same territory as Arena, though there's a pop-element here, too. Maybe the rhythms and harmonies are too smooth, the fit too comfortable. Doug Ott's guitar playing often suggests to me that the second he realizes he's copping a lick from Steve Rothery, he quickly takes it into another direction. Vocalist Ted Leonard sometimes sound a bit like Steve Hogarth, but this is only in patches. It is most notable on "The Lizard" which sounds like it could have been on on Holidays In Eden, if that album were edgier than it was. This track is only 4:44 long, but it seems much longer than that. "My Gavel Hand" also fits into this niche as well, though moments of This Strange Engine also come to mind.

It's hard not to like this album, as there's nothing really wrong with it. It isn't perfect, though. And, as I mention, a few tweaks here and there... There are some arty bits and some interesting choruses, both that suggest something bigger is about to happen, but don't quite deliver in the way I'd like. The title song, which opens the album, has been running through my head of late. The guitar appreggio that begins this track sounds familiar, and yet trying to identify the song is elusive. This is a track of great dynamics - understated versus, big choruses. Based on this song alone, Enchant could have sat comfortably next to some of the more widely known "modern rock" bands -- I'm thinking of Alice Of Chains, Soul Asylum, etc. Though Enchant are little more smooth, the neo-prog influence showing in their music. It really feels if the band poured a lot into this one track, and overall, it is, perhaps, my favourite.

But, after this initial metallic opening, the band settle in a more AOR groove - hard rocking, to be sure. "King" has a few hints of Rush, if a little brighter and jangly (shades of "Time Stand Still"). It's Doug Ott here on the grinding bass which does contrast to the brassier guitar phrases from Ott... Bass duties are shared by Leonard ("Break"), and guests Bob Madsen ("The Lizard") and Tony Mariano (the like bonus track "Once A Week"), as well. The line up is rounded out by Paul Craddick on drums (and piano on "Once...") and Michael "Benignus" Geimer on keyboards. The band are tight for the most part, so those flaws aren't the result of playing sloppy. But, overall, there is very little to distinguish one song from another, but for the choruses and few accents here an there. Structurally, what we get is easy, breezily delivered versuses and then, for the most part, explosive choruses. Geimer's keys often seem lost in the mix, though if one listens carefully, they can be heard. No trouble in hearing Ott's leads, of course. And he does play well, as do the rest of the band. There are some awkward transitions, that seem all the most noticable in contrast to the smoothness to the rest of the album.

"Surrounded" sounds like the Enchant of the past, a track that didn't make it onto Blueprint Of The World perhaps. Ott lets loose with a Rothery-inspired solo then mixes it up for a few seconds. "In The Dark" is an interesting track, the dark, growly bass and guitars are a nice texture that in some ways again evoke Rush -- late 80s Rush. Even down to the keyboard phrases from Geimer which surface for a few moments. Actually, Grace Under Pressure/Power Windows-period Rush are evoked mostly...so more mid-to-late 80s Rush. Probably the second strongest track here.

The bonus track, "Once A Week," has a different feel to it, that being Bruce Hornsby and the Range meets Squeeze. The former comes in with with acoustic feel and the use piano; Squeeze comes to play in Leonard's vocals. And it's here that you realize why this album is only "ok." There's not enough variety among the 10 tracks that comprise the album. The variances are just different shades of the same colour - darker here, lighter there.

It's not a bad album, it doesn't make you cringe or feel you wasted your money, though you might think that your money might have been better spent. It's good, a three star album, but a little lackluster.

Break (5:04) / King (4:33) / My Enemy (6:57) / Defenseless (4:54) / The Lizard (4:44) / Surrounded (4:18) / Silence (3:35) / In The Dark (5:49) / My Gavel Hand (5:03) / The Cross (6:53) / Bonus track: Once A Week (6:23)

Michael "Benignus" Geimer - keyboards
Douglas A Ott - guitars, bass, vocals
Paul Craddick - drums, piano (11)
Ted Leonard - vocals, bass (1)

Bob Madsen - bass (5)
Tony Mariano - bass (11)

A Blueprint of the World (1995)
Wounded (1997)
Time Lost (1997)
Break (1998)
Juggling 9 Or Dropping 10 (2000)
Blink Of An Eye (2002)
Tug Of War (2003)
Live At Last (2004)
The Great Divide (2014)
Live At Last (2004) (DVD)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: April 7th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.enchantband.com
Hits: 883
Language: english


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