ENCHANT — The Great Divide (review)

ENCHANT — The Great Divide album cover Album · 2014 · Non-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
2/5 ·
After the release of their 7th full-length album Tug of War in 2003 and a celebratory live album in 2004, Enchant took a long hiatus that lasted more than a decade. I was convinced this would be the end for the band, especially after their singer Ted Leonard joined Spock’s Beard in 2011. Yet, three years later in 2014 Enchant made a comeback with one more full-length album, The Great Divide, written and recorded by the same line-up of Tug of War. The band disappeared from the scenes once more after this record and remains inactive to date.

I do not know whether the band intended The Great Divide to be a return to their glory days of the late 1990s, when they released their best albums (1998’s Break and 2000’s Juggling 9 or Dropping 10), but if so, it’s hard to see the new LP as a resounding success. In fact, it is even difficult to find traces of Enchant’s early sound in the new album. The new material is quite light-weighted and lacks many of the progressive rock and metal stylings that had once characterized Enchant’s music. The album veers instead more decidedly towards AOR and light mainstream rock territory. These influences had always been present in Enchant’s albums, but in earlier records they had been complemented with a generous coating of progressive complexity and metallic heaviness. This is hardly the case here. One remaining trace of “progginess” on The Great Divide is the songs’ length, which frequently extends beyond the 7-minute mark. However, despite the duration, there is not a lot going on in the music in terms of intricate developments or structures. The songs are instead rooted in standard verse-chorus form with extended instrumental passages that showcase the band’s playing ability (and the solos are indeed quite good!).

The arrangements are generally simple. The guitar is often limited to providing a light, chord-based rhythmic foundation as well as soft melodic leads. The keyboards occupy a much larger portion of the soundscape compared to previous albums and often take a key role in providing melodic counterpoints to Ted Leonard’s vocal lines. These are generally weak, not because Ted is a bad singer (quite the contrary, his voice has always been a major strength for Enchant), but because they feel generic and are rarely memorable. Simply put, the songs are devoid of hooks that could elevate the already pared-down material above averageness.

Ultimately, this is how I would describe this album: neither very bad, nor very good, just simply average. Truth be told, this is also how I felt about Enchant’s previous two records, Blink of an Eye and Tug of War. Those albums, however, had slightly more redeeming qualities than The Great Divide, thanks to more interesting arrangements and a handful of songs that stood out as particularly memorable. This is not the case here, if we exclude opening song “Circles”, which is probably the most accomplished and impactful composition of the album. On that song, Ted Leonard sings “I need a new direction … I need a course correction”, which is actually an apt description of what I wished The Great Divide would do at some point during its course, though it never did.
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Warthur wrote:
4 months ago
Would certainly agree that Break and Juggling 9 Or Dropping 10 are where you'd want to start. I have a soft spot for their earlier stuff, but it's pretty hard to deny that it's somewhat derivative (I just really happen to like what they're derivative *of*, and think they show some smarts in what they choose to take from their influences) and that it's those two albums where they brought something new to the table.
lukretion wrote:
4 months ago
Juggling 9 or Dropping 10 has stood the test of time for me. It's an album I enjoy revisiting every now and then. The rest of the albums have not dated equally well, unfortunately...
UMUR wrote:
4 months ago
I can get behind this statement: "when they released their best albums (1998’s Break and 2000’s Juggling 9 or Dropping 10)" I actually used to be a big fan of Enchant, but I must admit I´ve lost interest over the years, and when I return to the albums today, the magic is gone...
siLLy puPPy wrote:
4 months ago
An SF Bay Area band i've never even heard. Guess i'll have to check em out.


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