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

ELOY - The Vision, the Sword and the Pyre (Part II)

Artist Station Records [Release date 27.09.19]

German prog legends return with their new album two years after Part I of this 2 part concept (this with Joan of Arc as the central character). Part one featured fantastic reviews, and rightfully so. Few do concept albums as well as Eloy, and this isn’t the first time they’ve split a concept over two albums; 1981’s Planets and the following year’s Time To Turn are two of Eloy’s finest.

The band’s leader, frontman, guitarist and founder member Frank Bornemann has been working on this project in his own studio for a good year or two and it’s well worth the wait.

Here he is joined by bassist Klaus-Peter Matziol, keyboardists Hannes Folberth and Michael Gerlach, and drummer Kristof Hinz.

Eloy have kept their prog sound updated throughout the years, they’re still a classic progressive rock band, but they’ve travelled far since their 70s Floyd, Purple, Heep and Yes sounds.

Bornemann’s interest in the history of this Middle Ages legend and legacy started in the 90s and Frank has worked with the Center Jeanne d’Arc in Orléans to ensure the accuracy and level of detail in the story. The story is also complete, which is why it’s told over the two albums, as Frank didn’t want to edit it in any way.

Opener ‘An Instant Relief Still The War Rages On’ kicks off with a choir over a hypnotic rhythm which builds as the whole band comes in. There’s a strong interplay with guitar and keyboards, which follows in many tracks.

‘Between Hopes Doubts Fear And Uncertainty’ is a shorter track, which gives more lyrically than musically. Some nice guitar work though.

At over 5 minutes, ‘Patay’ is a real musical stand-out, with nods to both the 70s and 80s, with some ethereal touches. ‘Joy’ proves than the band can rock with the best of them, and throughout the album, while the guitar frequently stands out, much is heavy keyboard oriented. The use of choir is typical and classic Eloy, whether like ‘Time To Turn or Ra’, the music is augmented perfectly.

The tracks that feature the guitar more prominently do so with aplomb; check out the crunchy riff on ‘Armistice Or War’. Then there’s ‘Tormenting Imprisonment’, suitably moody, atmospheric. Great use of strings.

The album finishes in similar fashion to ‘Ra’ (itself a concept album) with ‘Eternity’. Lovely track, one you have to just stop and listen to.

As a concept and production this is quite the rock opera and classic Eloy all over. You do really need both parts to appreciate the concept and enjoy the themes, well worth getting. ****1/2

Review by Joe Geesin

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