Eloy - The Vision, the Sword and the Pyre: Part II

Eloy The Vision, the Sword and the Pyre: Part II cover
The Vision, the Sword and the Pyre: Part II
Artist Station Records
A year later than originally planned, and not without some eventualities, comes the second and final part of Frank Bornemann’s life’s dream. The creation of an album based on the life, times and struggles of Jean D’Ark.
In this portion, Bornemann seems to have taken to heart a few of the criticisms the first part received and as it moves towards the conclusion of the story, while trying at the same time to keep things as consistent with his artistic vision and the first part as well.
The songs become a bit more dramatic, epic and even rocking, more so than someone would expect from Eloy… the album (both parts) is “different” than what you’d usually expect, so it’s best to consider it as a special Bornemann affair, featuring Eloy than to consider it completely canonical. It’s not like a million miles away from Eloy, but it’s a bit of an “anomaly”. One thing that stuck out to me is how much more Bornemann assumes a leading vocal role here, relegating Canadian songstress Anke Renner (who performs the role of Jean D’Ark) to lead on certain songs only. He also sounds more certain of his performance, which frankly (excuse me the pun) is good.
While the album initially moves strongly forward, it seems to lose a lot of steam around the time that “Paris” comes around, becoming a bit more ponderous, without entirely discarding its grandiose pretensions, It almost feels a bit melancholic one might say. When it picks up, it does so in an uncomfortably numb way (cheap wordplay I know, but I there are no Floyd parallels to be made here, this is not a pun).
While “part 2” overall feels more focused in its scope and rhythmically more swift on its feet than its predecessor, and it improves in certain areas, it doesn’t do so without revealing some new clings in its armor. The overall sum of both parts shows a bit of fatigue setting in and feels like it could have probably trimmed into one over long, but more condensed album.
What seems to plagues this entire project is a lack of concrete identity and direction. In trying to make this project appealing to Eloy fans, it has to sound a fair bit like Eloy and it does, but more like the album that time and people forgot. Then again, it doesn’t have the resolve to reinvent itself with a newfangled sound and contemporary direction, thus depriving its objectively beautiful and interesting melodies of the dynamics they project, but seem unable to fulfill. I can almost hear additional symphonic strings where they could and should have been (ie the ending of “Rouen”), but they’re absent.
If this got “re-orchestrated” and adapted for a stage production, with strong singers, in my mind, it could be massively great. As it stands, it feels as the likely epilogue (although who knows) to a long and illustrious career that has spanned over six decades that is not bad by any means, but possibly not better than the sum of its parts.