As rare as a total solar eclipse, there are very few occasions in heavy metal circles when an album literally crash-dives at supersonic speed from the stratosphere above, and blazes a trail through the earth’s atmosphere, falling under a hail of meteors and asteroids, and burying itself deep into Ireland’s very own emerald stained soil.
Well, this is exactly what has happened with The Enigma Division, a band who hail from Dublin and who have a nucleus that consists of Conor McGouran on guitars/keyboards, Ronan Burns on bass and Ben Wanders on drums. However, in order for them to complete this musical voyage of discovery through the cosmos, they have brought in many guest musicians to add to the sheer drama and infinite atmosphere that their vision required. And just like one of nature’s great wonders, the aurora borealis, we end up with is a debut album that glows and metamorphosises into an array of shapes and colours, rebounding and resounding off invisible walls of textures and sounds.
1977 opens the album like a sci-fi film score, with a deluge of synths and sounds, creating tension, drama and the perfect prologue to the album. Crisp, clean tech-metal riffs shred and scour their way through to the next track, The Escapist. Prog inspired rhythm guitars fuse with Ben’s clean, soaring vocals and between them they lift the track into a futuristic space odyssey. Sweeping lead solos mimic the magic of Megadeth’s Rust In Peace meanderings, all very clean and concise, and bang on the money. An all too brief scowl still manages to add another layer to the track, along with more harmonies and a finale that really does make you stand up and take notice.
The technical ability and talent of every musician on show here is abundantly clear right from the outset. Even the 80’s inspired Afterglow conjures up images of Stranger Things, but with a finely weighted set of balls hanging freely from it! Some flamboyant, over the top guitar doodling really brings the 80’s to life here, even down to the chorus which screams bright colours and permed hair!
Tracks like The Age Of Discovery bring some brilliant technical passages and more vocal acrobatics to the table, with its ridiculously good fret work, along with those pulsating drum patterns. Even some off-kilter keyboards don’t look out of place here, such is the futuristic and near scientific approach to the song writing. Then you have a track like Kaleidoscope, one of my favourites on the album, which brings a Muse vibe with it, even down to the vocals that echo Matt Bellamy’s stylistic approach to phrasing and delivery, it’s absolutely fantastic.
With seven tracks already under its belt, The Enigma Division still has the vision and ability to somehow summon an epic, twenty minute expedition through the galaxies, with an array of innovative and toe-curling riffs. The teeth are shown here more than anywhere else on the album, with some truly gritty riffs, that effortlessly blend and spiral into a glorious Pink Floyd passage that even gets a sprinkling of some blues and jazz, and why do that; well, why not?! Like any good Hollywood Sci-fi movie that’s worth its salt, the track finishes in a cacophony of sound and suspense, carefully mastering that perfectly weighted balance between what could be classed as a soundtrack, and what is defined as modern and progressive rock and metal.
The Enigma Division have certainly pulled out all the stops in allowing the inspiration for this space odyssey come to fruition, without sacrificing on any of the drama and pageantry. Failure to execute this properly would have been a crying shame. Thankfully, the lads have done everything in their power to allow this album reach those stratospheric heights and maintain them right through to the very last note. A triumph!