Enzo and the Glory Ensemble – In the Name of the World Spirit Review

First off, I’d like to apologize if you can’t hear me too well. I’ve been instructed to shout over the anguished shrieks of the Master of Muppets, who’s having a tough time right now. You see, we’re gathered here today to review In the Name of the World Spirit, the third release from Enzo and the Glory Ensemble, the progressive metal project masterminded by Enzo Donnarumma (Members of God), which is a touch outside of the creature’s usual wheelhouse. But positive, progressive, slightly cheesy power metal is something that I happen to delight in, so here we are! Embracing the glory (ensemble).

In the Name of the World Spirit is a big album; if there’s one thing to impress upon you now, that would be it. Like Avalon, Ayreon, and Avantasia, we’re talking a lot of guest musicians and a lot of album. Thirteen tracks, eighteen listed musicians, and sixty-four minutes later, there’s a lot to digest. At its heart, this is a highly progressive metal album dominated by choral fanfare and melodies with a traditional, Middle Eastern flair. Imagine Theocracy, Orphaned Land, and Ayreon meet up and take over Broadway, and you’re already halfway there.

It’s a strong formula for success, but it’s implemented poorly more often than not throughout the album. The progressive elements often manifest in abrupt changes to tempo, song structure, and melody, usually without warning or apparent purpose. The choral elements are so overused as to quickly become redundant, and, worse than that, the mix and effects applied makes the choral voice vague and insubstantial, reducing the most promising element of the album — the wide vocal talent — into just another instrument that adds no emotional value to the music. Guest singers include Kobi Farhi (Orphaned Land), Nicholas Leptos (Arrayan Path) and Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear). That’s just the tip of the talent, and yet so many of their contributions lack impact. “Nothingness (It’s Everyone’s Fate)” is the worst offender, incorporating no solo vocals whatsoever, and subsequently lacking any kind of emotional catharsis.

Enzo and the Glory Ensemble finds the most success when the album dials back on its progressive side a bit and offers the listener directness instead. “Try to Put in Pit the Fear” is the earliest example of this. The verses are catchy, and the brief choral sections work well to support the soloist singers. “I’ll Add More” has a seriously reverential (think the soundtrack to The Hunchback of Notre Dame) vibe to it, which sounds really cool, but contrasts sharply with the rest of the upbeat “ensemble” on the remainder of the album. “Echo” has a beautiful introduction, and I love its opening lines. In these moments, where Enzo hones in on specific ideas, In the Name of the World Spirit glows with potential.

Unfortunately, it isn’t enough. In the Name of the World Spirit feels disjointed, like it’s trying much too hard to be something it isn’t. Questionable choices abound in songwriting and production choices throughout. The drums are as impactful as tin cans; the singers are often indistinguishable from one another; the solos feel more like random spotlights for technical skill than organic elements of the songs they inhabit. I have no idea why the bass in “Just In My Heart the Blame” is more audible than the guitars; I don’t understand why all of the instruments stop abruptly for an instant midway through “My Pillory;” I don’t feel like the chorus in “Last Weep” fits the rest of the song; and I’m not sure who is missing their cue in the chorus of “Psalm 13 (Tell Me),” but I’m confident that someone is.

The thing is, a lot of the aforementioned tracks are not actually bad. In the Name of the World Spirit is filled to the brim with real potential. The concept is solid. The larger-than-life ensemble idea is a good one. Songs like “Psalm 13 (Tell Me)” represent ideals that I’d be happy to see more often in metal music. But the execution on In the Name of the World Spirit is just not there. Enzo and the Glory Ensemble are underwhelming in what should be an inspiring record, disjointed in what should be a cohesive whole, and restrained where it should be larger than life. I wish I had more good to say — I really do. But it seems that I’ll be looking for my dose of positive spirituality in metal elsewhere.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Rockshots Records
Website: facebook.com/enzoandtheglory
Released Worldwide: March 27th, 2020

Written By: Master of Muppets

Historically speaking, there’s no love lost between myself and Enzo and the Glory Ensemble, to the point that some may be wondering as to why I was subjected to this nonsense for a second time. The reason for this is there is no God due to our feeble attempts at law and order in the vvild vvild Vvest ov the promo lands; I have committed the sin of covering this act before, and for my crimes – which, might I add, were carried out under direct Steelian order and to much Muppety objection – I must… repeat my crimes?? Appalled at my sentence, I went so far as to invoke ancient bylaws and Faustian contracts to escape my fate, declaring that I would only partake in such anti-Muppet bullshit if a sacrifice were offered to share in my agony; Woe Discordia, for Steel threw an unwitting and justly startled Twelve at my feet before I could even finish articulating my plea. Well played, yo. I guess I’ll, like, do my job.

It’s no secret that I hate happiness and symphonic/power metal, and that’s exactly what’s got me so pissed off: In the Name of the World Spirit1 is a joyous display of Catholic praise and reflection delivered a la symphonic power metal of the cheesiest, smiliest sort. Granted, I’ve heard far less competent performances from many more personally beloved genres over the years, but I had never encountered a more anti-Muppet artist prior to being saddled with In the Name of the Son, and – for better or worse – to that end nothing has changed on this final installment of Enzo’s trilogy. This is cheddar dipped in sugar and then spritzed with holy water, and if that descriptor gives your ears a SwordBoner then I guess read on, just watch where you point that thing.

After a legally mandated instrumental intro2 things go straight to shit where we last found them on …the Son. To wit, this musical place is something like an unholy amalgamation of Broadway, Disney, Narnia, and Bible camp. Despite its properly bleak title, “Nothingness (It’s Everyone’s Fate)” is a spirited romp directly through No-Muppets Land, replete with jocund gang vocals and a neoclassical solo so noodly it may as well have been crafted from the carcass of the great spaghetti monster in the sky. All this and more is on full display for a Muppet-breaking 65 minutes; that’s excessive for any 13 track album, no matter how you spin it, but for this particular pile of hate and velvet it was straight up agony. Even “My Pillory” is a thing of upbeat Eastern scales and squeaky clean singalong fare, one that left me utterly starved of the nourishing hate promised unto me by its title. With its sights set on Heaven and its amplifiers set to ‘Devil may care but gosh we hope he doesn’t’, …World Spirit could be summarized by a single word: utterlyfuckingnauseating celebratory. Worship and praise ring through every note on …World Spirit, whether among the soaring heights of “Last Weep” or the relative emotional depths of “I’ll Add More,” there’s no denying that every single artist involved is putting the entirety of their abilities into their performances.

Unfortunately, this fervent participation includes Enzo, himself. As it was on …the Son, my biggest issue with this offering by Enzo and the Glory Ensemble is the hero of their namesake. The saccharine overdose in Agrabah that is “To Every Chest” is handled as competently as ever by the band, but I simply refuse to believe that anyone out there finds such clearly impassioned instrumental performances to somehow be improved in any way by Enzo Disney villain-ing things up through his nose, as he is wont to do. A fondness for repeating himself only does the work of …World Spirit’s musicians further injustice, and may I remind you: 65 fvcking minutes. I’ve no doubt that the whole Symphony X Finds Cheese and Jesus shtick is somebody’s thing, but it’s definitely not mine, and even if it’s yours I’m almost willing to bet that even you, Dear Reader/Person of Incredibly Questionable Judgment and Taste, aren’t looking to swim through Enzo’s amplified sinuses in order to get to it. Or maybe you are, who knows? There’s no accounting for taste and mine’s admittedly shit, but I do know this: Enzo’s performance is divisive at best, undeniably overpresent even if you’re on the wrong side of preference and, again, sixty five fucking minutes. Neoclassical symphonic worship metal has its place in the metalverse, just as much as any of the good genres, and much is accomplished here that is likely a decent testament the genre; In the Name of the World Spirit is not without merit, but as long as it is not without Enzo it is definitely without Muppet, and likely without most of you as well.

I hated this album. Hated it, hated it, hated it. I’m not the Muppet for the job and I did everything I could not to be. It is my belief that no loving God would ever subject me to anything like this3 but Steel did anyway, and despite failing to rise above my own scorn, I still hope that dragging The Thing That Happens Before Thirteen into this nonsense will ultimately result in In the Name of the World Spirit getting at least one objectively sound assessment here on AMG. This is that special kind hard-nope tuneage that leaves me utterly unable to do anything aside from profess my own hate, with any luck Twelve will be able to provide a more balanced and well thought out presentation on why you should hate it, too.

Rating: 2.0/5.0

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Which, really? Are you fucking serious? The last two albums were titled In the Name of the Father and In the Name of the Son, just what the Hell are you playing at, E?!
  2. “Precariousness”, the single best track on the album.
  3. I don’t know what past-life Muppet did to deserve “Try to Put in Pit the Fear,” but fuck that guy, yo.
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