I must admit that I've not been following Enchant's steps very close, given that it's not the kind of band that drives me crazy. Anyway, I've given a chance to this “Tug Of War”. I remember having reviewed a couple of years ago their “Juggling 9 Or Dropping 10” (2000) which, if lacking some personality, sounded quite well. The problem with their new Cd is that it's on the same place, as it was the preceding “Blink Of An Eye” (2002).
Enchant is a band that eludes innovation, compromise or imagination. They're a bunch of musicians that move more for mimicry than for creativity. This derives into another problem, which is lack of spontaneity.“Tug Of War” seems to have been made with a manual, chaining one cliche after another. A bit of Rush here, some of Marillion there, references to Kansas, to the 80's Yes... Obviously, Enchant's members are excellent musicians. Douglas Ott knows how to play exhausting guitar solos, Sean Flanagan's drums sound both precise and powerful, keyboardist Bill Jenkins can reproduce Mark Kelly's solos impeccably.
The thing is that this is neither progressive or symphonic rock. It's all about AOR (something that Ted Leonard's voice reminds us constantly), embellished with occasional instrumental passages of creative urge. There's keyboard solos, and even an instrumental titled "Progtology" (6.46), to justify that Enchant play on the same league as The Flower Kings. Of course, I'm sure that this band from San Francisco could sell thousands of copies and make very successful singles, as their music is much closer to mainstream hard rock / american AOR than to any remotely similar to avant-garde or experimentation. Everything is flawlessly performed and produced, but it's easily forgettable.
There are catchy songs like "Sinking Sand" (7.09) or the title song "Tug Of War" (7.41), "perfect" ballads such as "Beautiful" (4.28), which sounds shamelessly as Marillion's “Afraid Of Sunlight” in which, oh surprise, there was a haunting song called "Beautiful". To balance the mainstream sound of songs like "Holding The Wind" (5.45) or "Long Way Down" (4.57) we find such an "oddity" like "Comatose" (8.50), an intriguingly titled song which extends close to ¡nine! minutes but, don't be wrong, it's only a simple ballad extended to reiteration.
Nowadays, the progressive and symphonic genres are in very good health, revamped by dozens of talented and creative musicians and composers, but still there's a huge amount of bands that live under the shelter of a label or a well designed and calculated marketing campaign, where there's no room for creativity or experimentation. Enchant, who are very talented mercenaries, are distinguished members of this collective.