Enchant - Tug Of War

Year of Release: 2003
Label: InsideOut Music
Catalog Number: IOMCD 131/SPV 085-65812
Format: CD
Total Time: 66:27:00

Enchant's sixth studio album is Tug Of War, 10 tracks of prog rock with a slight metal edge ? in a way, no different from the band's previous 5 (except maybe that first album A Blueprint Of The World). That isn't to say that Tug Of War is a rehash of previous albums. For one thing, the arrangements seem denser than before. Each instrument is fully involved, doing something beyond mere time keeping. Their musical attack here is tinged with an aggressiveness that seems like anger at times. Aside from Ted Leonard's wonderful vocals and Doug Ott's sometimes exquisite guitar solos, what sits up front in the mix is the bass playing of Ed Platt, as it throbs in one track, grinds darkly in another? Sean Flanegan's drumming is very taut and crisp and the keyboards of newcomer Bill Jenkins are slotted perfectly in the mix for the most part, though I find them just a little too close to shrill during their solo spot towards the end of the title track. On the whole, the band themselves are tight. However, overall there are some mixing quibbles that I have, as it seems sometimes the instrumentation is up just a notch, moving the vocals back a notch.

Most of the album comes at you relentlessly, each piece launching right into things before they're even a few seconds old. As with Blink Of An Eye, the band mix in memorable choruses to their heavy prog? at least, heavy when compared to their contemporaries; not very heavy when compared to prog metal bands, putting them again somewhere between neo-prog and prog metal. And yet, there's the ultra heavy (for Enchant) "Queen Of The Informed" which verily booms right out of your speakers (due mainly to Platt's bass). This piece, "Sinking Sand," and the instrumental "Progtology" are the ballsiest tracks here, the latter reminiscent of Rush's "YYZ" in the snarling and distorted guitar work of Ott. The stomping bass of Platt nailing things down, everything driven by Flaneagan's drums. And into that mix, add some choir-like voicings of the keys that had me think of Jon Anderson and later some very tinkly piano-like phrases seasoning things. The heavy, melodic "Living In A Movie" is the ultimate tale of one having a very bad day, where each bad thing leads to something worse. "Long Way Down" is more expansive piece, there being a little breathing room during the gliding choruses. Ott's solo here is ferocious, a bit of speedy metal-like runs in the midst of a mid-tempo track.

Piano-like notes begin the more subdued "Comatose," the second of two balladic tracks here, and the one that ends the album. The other ballad is "Beautiful," and these songs are lyrically in contrast to each other. Whereas in "Beautiful" it is about an ending relationship that the protagonist is trying to hang on to, in "Comatose" it is about an ending relationship that the protagonist would be just as happy (or happier) to be out of. In "Beautiful," by the way, just as an observation, I kept thinking of Marillion's "Beautiful" ? not because of the title, but because Leonard's particular phrasing of the word is so very much like Steve Hogarth's. The rest of the arrangement is quite different, however?

While Tug Of War is not Enchant's masterpiece, it is a very good album. It doesn't have the same immediacy as Blink Of An Eye, but that doesn't make it any less of a good album, just one that may take a little longer to worm its way into your consciousness.

Released in North America by the now defunct InsideOut Music America (IOMA 2063-2)

Sinking Sand (7:09) / Tug O' War (7:41) / Holding The Wind (5:45) / Beautiful (4:28) / Queen Of The Informed (7:01) / Living In A Movie (6:58) / Long Way Down (4:57) / See No Evil (5:52) / Progtology (6:46) / Comatose (8:50)

Ted Leonard - vocals
Douglas A. Ott - guitars
Ed Platt - bass
Sean Flanegan - drums
Bill Jenkins - keyboards

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: December 14th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.enchantband.com
Hits: 962
Language: english


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