The German Symphonic Rock formation of leader Frank Bornemann is back with a new concept album. Taking their name Eloy from the name Eloi, the futuristic race of people in H.G. Wells's book “The Time Machine”, was originally formed in the year 1969 as a school band. After the first Space Rock oriented period, the band transformed into one of the best Symphonic Rock bands of the seventies. Who doesn't know classic Symphonic Rock albums like the concept album “Ocean” (about Atlantis) or “Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes”? This was their peak for me, but after the also great albums “Planets” and “Time to Turn” the band became more commercial in the eighties. And then it was over until the year 1994 when the band returned with “The Tides Return Forever”. With “Ocean 2” (1998) the symphonic sound also returned. After more then a decade the band released the album “Visionary” (2009). Though times for the fans, but surprisingly the band returned on stage with a live tour in the years 2012/2013. This was documented with a great 2CD live album entitled “Reincarnation On Stage” (2014). After this triumphant return Frank Bornemann disappeared to write the music for a new concept album about the life and dead of Jeanne d'Arc, the virgin of Orleans. The girl played a role in the age of the Hundred Years' War between France and England. Betrayed and only 19 years old she ended up at the pyre. An ambitious project that took more than two years to develop. Now the first part of this work is presented under the title “The Vision, The Sword and The Pyre (Part 1)”.
Frank Bornemann - lead and backing vocals, all guitars and some additional keyboards; Klaus-Peter Matziol - bass; Hanes Folberth - keyboards; Michael Gerlach - keyboards; Kristoffer Hink - drums and percussion
Alice Merton - spoken parts as Jeanne on 5,6,8
Alexandra Seubert - backing vocals on 3,9,11
Jessy Martens - vocals as Jeanne on 13
Anke Runner - backing vocals on 3,5,6,11
Isgaard - vocals on 9
Lisa Laage Smidt - backing vocals on 6
Kim Hutchinson - spoken parts as Jeanne's mother Isabelle on 2
Kia Ritter - spoken parts as Jeanne's father on 2,4
Simon Moskon - backing vocals on 3,8,9
Sven-Arne Zinnke - backing vocals on 5
Jens Lueck - keyboards on 1,5
The children's choir of the Marktkirche Hannover
under the direction of Lisa Laage-Smidt on 9
Peter Becket and Tom Jackson: Army choir on 10
Volker Kuinke - recorders and flutes on 3,6,8,10
Eric Pulverich, Leon Kaack and Bick Buttchereit:
vocals as members of the board of examiners on 8
Christoph van Hal - strings 1,10
Artur Kuhfuss - keyboards on 5,8
Niklas Fischer - keyboards on 3,8
Johannes Berger - bass voice on 9
Julian Goke - bass voice on 1
This is an eagerly awaited release by a loyal fan base (including me). In the extended booklet of 20 pages you can read the story of this remarkable young woman. She was only 19 years old when she was convicted to the pyre. Even after six hundred years, everyone of our generation knows her story. It was and is (Frank is working on Part 2 at the moment) an ambitious project. However there are a lot of participants and guest appearances on this album, Frank Bornemann is the driving force behind this project. He deserves all the credits for his enthusiasm and perseverance in this project.
You can find 13 tracks on this album. Frank did not choose the way of a narrator who tells the story but there are several guest singers who are contributing with spoken word passages. This works wonderfully well. Particular guest are singers Alice Merton and Jessy Martens. But for me a familiar name is that of singer Isgaard and her partner Jens Lueck who is playing some keyboards on this remarkable album. Last year progVisions published a review of Isgaard's album “Whiteout”.
And what about the music? Well I can reassure the Eloy fans, “The Vision, The Sword and The Pyre (Part 1)” is a typical Eloy album with the high standards of Frank Bornemann. There is so much detail in the music. Expect loads of keyboards and great keyboard orchestrations and choirs. The vocals and the spoken word which are combined with delicate soundscapes gives the needed diversity to the album. The other parts are top notch Symphonic Rock pieces with delicious synth solo's and guitar solo's with that typical Eloy sound and of course the Frank Bornemann vocals are also present on this album. And what about using a real children's choir and several backing vocalists. The use of instruments like flute and recorders in several delicate parts call the atmosphere of those time periods in which the story took place. For fans this new album is a feast of recognition. Enjoy a new and fresh sounding Eloy which is at the same time very recognizable. So an album with the typical Eloy trademarks. It is a consistent album with no weak points.
Well it was worth the wait (we had to wait 8 years for this new studio album). “The Vision, The Sword and The Pyre (Part 1)” is an Eloy album with the quality we are used to according the high Eloy standards in sound and production. The atmosphere of the music could be compared to the symphonic Eloy sound of the seventies but this album is so much more. Really looking forward to part 2. This album is recommended to the fans of old school symphonic rock music. If you are new to the music of Eloy I would recommend you to also have a listen to albums like “Oceans”, “ Cries and Mighty Echoes”, “Planets” and “Time to Turn”. This are classic Symphonic Rock albums. Hopefully we don't have to wait another two and a half years for part 2 of “The Vision, The Sword and The Pyre” a concept about the life and dead of Jeanne d'Arc, the virgin of Orleans.