Review: "The Fall of a Rebel Angel" - Enigma

by Jeremy Williams-Chalmers,

Founded in 1990 by the multi-talented Ibiza based Romanian-German Michael Cretu, Enigma have, over the last 26 years, delivered a fascinatingly diverse collection of albums. Nigh on impossible to fully classify within a genre, their experimental new age ambient electronica has changed shape many times over the last 26 years but one thing that has remained consistent throughout is the quality of their output. With over 70 million records sold to date, the expectations for their long-awaited eighth studio album, The Fall Of A Rebel Angel, are high. Arriving 8 years after Seven Lives Many Faces, the wait has been a long one, but has it been worthwhile?

With their seventh studio album having showcased an interest in dubstep and rap, their eighth studio album marks another departure from form. However, many might note the echoes of their fifth studio album, 2003's Voyageur, which saw Enigma at their most easily digested by a mainstream audience. While their sound centered on Gregorian and tribal chants, it was all delivered in an accessible, some might say, pop leaning manner.

While it would be foolish to classify Enigma as pop music, it is fair to say that their eighth studio album is equally easy to access. The Fall Of A Rebel might be a concept album, centering on Cretu's collaboration with German lyricist and librettist Michael Kunze about a protagonist's journey of development and change to find a new, fulfilling life, but it never loses itself in an over-thought sub-plot or an intelligent but incomprehensible ark.

At just 45 minutes the album is brief but compelling. Once again featuring the vocals of Nanuk alongside those of Brazilian songsmith Mark Josher, Indonesian songstress (and one-time Eurovision entrant) Anggun and English electro duo Aquilo, the album is the perfect blend of Cretu's creative vision and the influences and leanings of his collaborators. As with all Enigma albums, it is within the team that Cretu surrounds himself with that his album's shape is defined.

Opening with the atmospheric, Nanuk featuring, spoken-word Circle, the album quickly moves in to the glitchy The Omega Point; however, it is when the powerful drive of Anggun is brought into the mix for the lead single, Sadeness (Part II). A long-overdue sequel to MCMXC a.D.'s Sadeness (Part I), it is without hesitation the album's crowning moment. Enriched by it's choral motif, this is one of Enigma's finest cuts to date.

Equally impressive are the addictive Agnus Dei and stunning Lost In Nothingness, while the Aquilo featuring album closer, Amen, also shines. As a collection The Fall Of A Rebel Angel builds on the solid foundations Enigma has laid over the last couple of decades but still feels fresh. As expected, Enigma's return is dynamic and different.

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