It feels odd writing this. As I reveal another of my Albums Of 2016 and knowing that there won't be another like this by The Enid.
Last weekend, it was announced that lead vocalist Joe Payne had left the band. And today it was announced that two more long serving members had also left the band, leaving them as an instrumental three piece.
This week's departures, combined with the decision of Robert John Godfrey to quit the band following his Alzheimer's diagnosis in 2012, means that there will be a very different 'next album' for the new Enid.
The Enid were formed by the keyboard player, arranger and all round musical maverick Robert John Godfrey back in 1974.
Initially and instrumental unit, The Enid have released 16 albums up to this year's 17th, DUST.
DUST was conceived to be the final part of a trilogy of albums called The Journey's End Trilogy - which consist of Journey's End (2010), Invicta (2012) and Dust (2016).
Leviticus - from the album Invicta
The band have had many members over the years but the arrival of Joe Payne in 2011 was probably the most dramatic in terms of the change in direction and presentation of The Enid.
Here is a small biography of Joe courtesy of The Enid Website.
"Joe whose background and interests included concert piano, pop and progressive music, abstract theatre and admiration for ambitious performing artists such as Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel
At this time Joe was studying a Business Management degree at the Clare Business School, Buckinghamshire. His new insight into brand management fuelled an ambitious dissertation which challenged the possibility of rebranding The Enid into a more sustainable format. Though met with some hostility from fans, Joe pushed forward to transform The Enid from a poorly presented and dated instrumental band into a vocally led and visually ambitious outfit. Maintaining the band’s integrity and trademark sound, the evolution was successful, attracting a much wider demographic and expanding their audience substantially.
Joe now co-writes on all of the bands new material, writing melodic content and lyrics in collaboration with Robert John Godfrey and Max Read. His influence to create more visually dynamic and conceptual live shows have led the band to be recognised for their events as much as their music, gathering wide acclaim from the rock press and a “Live Event” nomination at the 2015 Progressive Music Awards.
Voted “Best Male Vocalist” two years running in the Prog Magazine Readers’ Poll, Joe is now coached in operatic vocal technique by one of the world’s leading Classical Voice teachers, Paul Farrington (currently vocal consultant to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, New National Theatre Tokyo, and Göteborgs Operan in Sweden). He is also directed in stagecraft by TV Illusionist Simon Drake, best known for his Channel 4 show “Secret Cabaret” and performance and production role in the Kate Bush “Tour of Life”."
Founder & Guiding Light - Robert John Godfrey
DUST is a brave, dramatic record. Is it Rock? Is it theatre? Is it Symphonic? Is it Choral? - It's all of these things. Truly progressive in all senses of the world. It is also captivating, enchanting, surprising and extremely bold. I guarantee you won't hear another record like it in 2016. It's rarely been far from my cd player since it was released in April.
Right from the first track, Born In The Fire, you know you're in for something a bit special and unusual. Starting with an insistent and foreboding drumbeat which is joined by many chanting voices - it feels like your listening to the soundtrack of one of the old MGM Biblical classic films of the 40s & 50s. It then builds into a gorgeous orchestral break with weeping strings and insistent brass. What an opening! The main song then breaks through the orchestral melee. And it's absolutely lovely. Highlighting Joe Payne's superb vocal technique. You can see on this album why he has garnered the awards. The track also features some sterling electric guitar work from Jason Ducker.
The glue that holds the album together is the keyboards and piano work of leader Robert John Godfrey who leads the music into the second track, the epic Someone Shall Rise. It's the splendid choral work that features in this second track. It's almost hymnic. It's another dramatic and moving piece of music with unexpected twists and turns.
Someone Shall Rise
Monster comes next and once again features the wonderful vocal arrangements by Max Read who brings The Enid Choir to life. It's a gentle track in an album of dynamic extremes but nonetheless holds your attention.
It's an album that is also steeped in a certain sadness, given more poignancy now considering what has happened to the band since the album's release.
The sweeping strings of Monsters leads into the next track, 1000 Stars. Once again, it's a very filmic score that breaks gently into a theatrical, dramatic song.
It's really an album that needs to be experienced in one sitting. Do not try and pick tracks as you'll not get the full effect of it's relatively short (these days) 42 minute span.
Robert John Godfrey Interview on the release of Dust
The electric guitar makes a welcome return on the next track When The World Is Full, it's a soft sinister track which brings to mind Peter Gabriel - especially when he revisits his back catalogue in the orchestral settings, which he has recently released. The track then enters into a more orchestral realm with the electric guitar accompaniment.
Probably the most dramatic track of the whole album comes next in the shape of Trophy. Imagine everything you have heard so far distilled into one track. This is Trophy.
Joe Payne Interview on the release of Dust
We're then into the final track heavy hearts - the most conventional song on the album, complete with drumbeat and the layered choral vocals. But the album still ends on a dramatic high.And it's absolutely flown by.
When you listen to early Enid you can see why the introduction of Joe Payne polarised some of the band's fans. From an instrumental based band to something like DUST which is very vocally rich ,in all senses of the world, was a huge leap of faith to take.
I have enjoyed most incarnations of The Enid and I'm especially sad to see the departure of Joe as I felt that he made The Enid sound like no other band out there at the moment.
And I wish him all of the best in his solo ventures and will follow his career avidly.
However, change is once more upon The Enid as Robert John Godfrey bows out of the band which at the moment of writing is a three piece of Dominic Tolfield (Drums & Percussion) Jason Ducker (Guitar) & Zachary Bullock (Multi Instrumentalist). This week's departure of Dave Storey (Drums - original member) and long term member Max Read (Multi Instrumentalist, Composer, Arranger & Producer) now leaves the road clear for The Enid to reinvent themselves once again and let the younger generation take this most unexpected of bands on their next journey.
I, for one, will be interested to see where this new journey takes them.
Twitter - @Joseph_Payne