Music review: Enchanter - Defenders of the Realm

When it comes to USPM, my preferences generally fall on the "blue collar" side of things. The more rough 'n tumble sounds of Agent Steel, Metal Church and Omen are never far from my speakers, but that doesn't mean I don't have a certain level of appreciation for the relatively proggier "white collar" sounds of Fates Warning and Queensryche. Enchanter definitely falls into the latter category, and has quickly become a favorite!

The vocals are easily my favorite aspect of this material, which is saying something, considering the overall quality! Brian Osborne spends most of the album in either his midranged, almost half-spoken style or a high, nasal wail. He also shows off a nice lower register on "Beckoned With a Call." I almost wish he did more of that, but it appearing only a couple of times definitely makes it stand out more. He really draws no immediate comparisons as a vocalist, although he sings some rhythmically unusual verses ala John Arch. "Thor" in particular utilizes them incredibly effectively by combining them with a very simple, powerful chorus.

The guitar work is excellent, like everything else on the album. There's quite a bit of fast palm-muting, particularly in the title track, giving certain sections an almost thrashy character. A lot of simpler chords are used, often to accentuate chorus sections. A few melancholy clean guitar sections also appear, adding some atmosphere to the proceedings. My favorite example of this is the fearful "Rush of cold around my spine..." section of "Beckoned With a Call", which ends up in a masterful transition into a stomping riff and a great solo.

There's not a whole lot to say about the bass. Most of the time it quietly grumbles along to the guitars, although it pops up once in a while, with a nice run during the lead section of the title track. The drums simply seem to keep the rhythm most of the time, although there's enough variation that they don't get too stale, with occasional time changes and tight fills.

As far as I'm concerned, this band is absolutely worthy of being mentioned alongside the titans of USPM such as Omen and Queensryche. It's just that good, and the fact that I rarely see it talked about is absolutely criminal.


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