VINYL. "Enigmatic" was the tag oft-times tossed 'round Bill Fay, whose loyal cult following grew significantly over the years. Signed to Decca, the singer/songwriter and pianist released two albums in the late '60s and early '70s; their haunting, darkly shadowed songs were never meant to appeal to the masses, even at the height of the psychedelia-streaked introspection sparked by the soul-searching of the day. While the Beatles flew off to meet the Maharishi, Fay fell under the spell of a 19th century compendium of commentaries on the Biblical books of Daniel and Revelations, which would inspire his second album, Time of the Last Persecution. But before the born-agains jump on to the Fay bandwagon, they should be warned that the artist was equally influenced by the ravaging events of the day. The title track, "Time of the Last Persecution," was written in an immediate and visceral response to the killings of four students at Kent State. Even in 1971, the intensity of Fay's lyrics -- reflecting his commentaries in their poetical language, their highly introspective nature, the brooding quality of the music, all exquisitely enhanced by Ray Russell's evocative blues guitar work -- left most reviewers cold and confused. In truth, the album would have slotted much more neatly into the coming firestorm that descended on Britain later in the decade, and would have provided a surprisingly supple bridge between the apocalyptic visions of roots reggae and the political polemics of punk. The set certainly contains all the fire and fury of the latter movement, as well as the deeply dread atmospheres of the former. By 2005, with the rise of evangelicalism and Christian rock, Persecution no longer sounds so obscure or out of place; it is, however, a personal journey of spirituality, not a platform from which to proselytize. For all its dark vision, it's the possibility of peace and hope that shines through the gloom, and as for all the seeming quietude of the music, it thunders, too, with a power and emotion that speak in volumes as loudly as Fay's striking lyrics.