ELOY - The Vision, The Sword And The Pyre (Part II)

Eloy - The Vision, The Sword And The Pyre (Part II)

13 songs
52:33 minutes
***** ****
Artist Station


Frank Bornemann, born in 1945, is the only remaining founding members of Eloy, a German progressive and art rock band that played its first show on 29th April 1970. I was only four days old back then, and it took me another twenty years before I discovered progressive rock, and then logically sometime later also Eloy. Albums like Ocean and Metromania made it into my personal record collection and were listened to quite frequently. In the new millennium there were fewer releases and I have to admit to my greatest shame that I missed out on the first part of The Vision, The Sword And The Pyre in 2017.

This two-part concept album deals with the history of Jeanne d’Arc, from her birth to her execution on the pyre at the young age of nineteen years only. Vocalist and guitarist Frank Bornemann studied her intensely for five years, with many visits to university libraries, to learn everything about this person that is still a symbol for freedom in France to this day.

After the first part, Eloy fans had to wait for two years before the second part came out. It should not come as a surprise that both sound rather alike. Bornemann wants to create a "spectacle musical" that is also intended to be performed live, with lots of music but also plenty of spoken parts. On the albums, there are of course conventional vocals, but also male and female vocals that tell so-called "résumés" that sum up the essential of the story. Eloy still play magnificent prog rock that is rooted in the early days of genre, and sound less shallow than many modern acts that try to emulate that sound. The synthesizers are always used in an intelligent way and play an important role in the band’s sound. Add to this the voice of Frank Bornemann that leaves a soothing impression. Despite his advanced age, he reminds me at times of a young Peter Gabriel. If it fits thematically, the music is accompanied by a church organ and choirs, giving it a more festive atmosphere, as can be heard on Reims... The Coronation of Charles VII. The end of the album deals with the capture and trial of Jeanne d’Arc. The music becomes quieter but is still full of suspense. Frank Bornemann still wanted a good ending to the sad story. The concluding Eternity is a song with a hopeful message.

I occasionally catch myself wondering if the audience is aging together with the musicians. Eloy have been doing their own thing for nearly half a decade now. Those who like the early prog rock stuff from the early to the mid-Seventies will be well served with this album, as well with its first part predecessor. The band has planned a book and a music spectacle for both records. This might mean that 2020 should become a huge year for Eloy and their fans. I am looking forward to what is to come.

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