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With 'Wounded', the second album from Enchant, the band has put together a collection of songs that are focused on more personal issues than their previous release A Blueprint Of The World. Based out of the San Francisco area, Enchant has made a name for themselves with fans of bands such as Marillion, Rush and Dream Theater. Their dense sounding instrumental tracks combined with their melodic lead vocals makes for challenging yet accessible music.
Their work instantly takes its place alongside such genre-gods as Dream Theater, Gentle Giant and Genesis. -- James Bickers, Sea Of Tranquility, 1997
playing is extremely technical, but there's enough space for melodies to glow, and solos to spike through arrangements -- George Thatcher, heartoftherock.com, 1997
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I love the debut. Songs like "The Thrist" and "Oasis" were elating, inspiring pieces of music. Here, the songs abandon the hopeful outlook and take a darker approach. Look at the cover: A nail driven into a heart. If you look closer, you can see the distinctive form of North and South America. The cover fits, as Wounded deals with suffering, in one form or another, sometimes brought on by the world's vice. "Below Zero" demonstrates the self-loathing of a man whose apathy has isolated him from others. "Missing" shows the guilt-laden inner torment of a man whose infidelity has broken the heart of the woman he loves. "Look Away" is about fearing inner reflection because of what it might reveal. "Fade 2 Grey" is about someone who suddenly finds that his life has slipped through his fingers. "Distractions" is richly metaphorical, about a man who can't manage to follow the path he wants in life. Without exception, the band handles all these issues very well. I suppose the only unfortunate consequence of the album's morose subject matter is that I can't find myself listening to it when I'm in a good mood. That's unfortunate since I'm usually pretty happy. This is heavy stuff.
A sense of invariably is taking over this review. Again, I must recycle a common adjective. Musically, the album isn't exhausting - it is, as I said, challenging. Songs play out for an average of seven minutes, and for the first several listens the songs just kind of blends into the background. The melodies are more evasive than on A Blueprint of the World. "But hey," I thought, "this is Enchant." So I listened. And listened. And listened. I became attached to the songs, memorizing the lyrics, noticing the wealth of nuance present. Guitarist Douglas Ott is an awesome player who uses chops and emotional intuitiveness to create wrenching guitar solos. All of them are excellent, but the ones that come to mind first are the ones from "Pure" and "Look Away," which both hit me with plenty of chills. I have come to find this album as memorable as anything the band offers, even though it is certainly their most testing release so far.
If you've never heard Enchant, I would describe them as a brilliant melodic/progressive rock band. The Rush comparison is the easiest one to make, but Enchant manages to isolate a unique sound for their music (when lots of bands these days just end up sounding like someone else). Each Enchant album offers something different musically. Wounded takes the band's standard qualities - laudable technical skill, intricate drums, crunchy chords, and subtly layered synths - and concentrates them on a gloomy theme that, while initially nondescript, becomes as endearing as the band's other excellent work.