I have been a fan of The Enid since the 70's and have seen them go through many changes. The current line-up however is, in my view, the best ever. The addition of vocalist Joe Payne has brought a fresh dynamic to the band which was already revitalised by the addition of guitarist Jason Ducker and Nic Willes on bass and percussion.
Invicta is a new direction for the band, which was formally mostly instrumental but here Joe's vocals play a major part. It flows smoothly from one track to another and leaves one breathless at the end of it. One & The Many is the first big surprise with Joe singing like a choirboy - if you shut your eyes you can imagine him singing in a big cathedral in front of a stained glass window - then suddenly he melds into his usual voice in a spine-tingling moment. You just want this song to go on and on.
Who Created Me is possibly one of my favourite songs on the album, along with Villain of Science - both originally written by Joe and then given the Robert John Godfrey orchestral treatment with some wonderful guitar work from Jason Ducker. His solo in Villain of Science is phenomenal.
Speaking of Jason - Heaven's Gate is a revelation. RJG has taken Art of Melody, from the Journey's End album, the first in the series, and Jason has worked some guitar over it - but what a sound! At first glance you would almost think it is an opera singer! Jason can get sounds from his Fernandes you would not think possible. If this doesn't leave you with tears in your eyes you have no soul.
Witch Hunt is a very haunting melody - quite menacing in tone - and it brings images of a 17th Century mob chasing some poor woman they perceive to be a witch. Very exciting and frenetic.
Leviticus is a song which grows on you. The vocals are beautiful and the guitar and orchestration are just gorgeous.
The final song, The Whispering, has layered vocals from Joe Payne and Max Read harmonising beautifully accompanied by subtle acoustic guitar and orchestrations. It is such a haunting melody to finish this amazing album with, I was lost for words at the end of my first hearing - with tears running down my cheeks.
The album works as a whole and the songs stand up individually. I think this is the best work The Enid have ever done and although I do not use this word lightly, it is a true masterpiece.