Album review: ELOY – The Vision, The Sword and The Pyre (Part 1)

ELOY - The Vision, The Sword and The Pyre (Part 1)

Artist Station Records [Release date 25.08.17]

German progressive rock band Eloy release their 18th studio album (19th if you include the Codename Wildgeese OST) and it’s the latest of a number of concept albums, this one about the legend of Joan Of Arc.

Formed in the late 60s, Eloy released a string of successful albums on Harvest, mostly released in Europe only, and were often dubbed ‘The German Pink Floyd’. In the 80′s the sound was modernised (much in the same way Yes did), and over the years their brand of progressive rock dipped into symphonic and space rock. And through a number of line-up changes, drummers have included Fritz Randow (Saxon) and Jürgen Rosenthal (Uli Jon Roth, Scorpions).

Fronted by founder guitarist, vocalist and sole permanent member Frank Bornemann (who has also worked as a producer of a number of name bands), this new set is the first since 2009’s ‘Visionary’, is as good as ever.

Opener ‘The Age Of The Hundred Years’ War’ kicks off atmospherically and builds into some crunchy space rock. ‘Domremy On The 6th January 1412’ is the first of several shorter tracks that add atmosphere and also add to the lyrical concept. ‘Early Signs’, with a gentle start, hints to some of the 80s work, and builds nicely, there’s a medieval hint to the heaviness, and hints to the late 70s too.

‘The Call’ is a chunkier number and classic Eloy, the keyboards and guitars work well together.

The album is a rock opera that is different to most of the genre and guests (including Canadian singer Alice Merton as Joan Of Arc), and the story is told as if by Jean De Metz, who witnessed the life and events, and kept factual as seen rather than interpreted. The use of brachial choir to delicate children’s voices all add gravitas to the story and the atmosphere.

This is part 1 of the concept, something that Frank Bornemann has researched in depth. Thirteen tracks, a couple of 1-2 minute bridges, a couple at six minutes and one epic at 10, and musically there’s a nod to both Metromania and Performance, surpassing both with aplomb.

Not only is this a wonderful listen, it is also a grower, and one you can go back to and listen to completely. Musically and lyrically a journey well worth exploring. ****1/2

Review by Joe Geesin

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