Album Review: Eneferens | The Bleakness Of Our Constant
Imagine a hermit. A mage seeking enlightenment by cutting himself off from humanity and making his home in the forest. The source of all natural power. He communes with the gods of nature letting go of his ego as well as his rage coming to a new understanding of life. That is as close as it is possible to get to describing overall feeling of The Bleakness of Our Constant by the one-man music project Eneferens. The comparisons and allusions to other bands are both obvious and numerous. They are also all wrong. Or at least insufficient. Elvis Costello once quipped that trying to write about music was like trying to dance about architecture. The snarky limey was right but it is still worth a try.
Right away one notices something going on with the album art. There is a photograph of the misty treed shoreline of a lake under a partly cloudy sky. Over this is superimposed an image of an ancient magic rune. While both nature and magical imagery are well known themes in Black Metal nowhere have they been combined so seamlessly and powerfully as this.
Things get off to an auspicious start from the first notes of “Leave” which is the first of the scanty seven songs on this technically full-length album. Soaring, melodic guitars laid over an almost rolling drum beat giving the whole affair an almost symphonic feel, the vocal element conspicuous by its absence.
The second track, “This Outward Reach,” starts with much more of bang but once again leads into an almost transcendent layer of guitars going from the deep and dirty with lots of gain to the semi-symphonic. It is clear that Jori Apedaile uses variant tunings, some obviously in the usual drop-D range for Metal others in the the more standard E tuning played through clean amp channels. No less complex are the vocals. Apedaile starts out with guttural, almost roared vocals that while they evoke a sort of demonic possession are also surprisingly intelligible. That is until 3:12 when the floor drops out into a clean-tone, almost Spanish guitar breakdown leading us even further down the rabbit hole into a land of dreams and ambiance before turning yet again into the sort of Power Metal that makes you either want to invade somewhere or fight off an invading force single-handed. Ending somewhere else entirely with a haunting echoing piano.
Track three, “Amethyst,” is an intriguing mix of hard and soft, light and dark. The top layer of guitars once again being relatively clean as well as masterfully played, the bottom level consisting of pile-driver drums and heavy guitar riffs. The vocals are, once again, from the heart of a tortured soul but not so much so as not to be understood. For the first two minutes anyway. Then things move in a distinctly melodic direction again, there not even being drums at first, the clean electric guitar tones underscored by strummed acoustic, until the acoustic takes over entirely taking on the same sort of single-note wizardry. For maybe ten notes before the heavy, dirty, gain-heavy guitars kick back in ernest, the top layer maintaining its near-inspirational tone. This is also where the vocals come back with a new attitude and level of beauty, Apedaile's clear, melodic tenor on full display. Before dropping back into crushing drums and dirty tones though still with a melodic edge.
The fourth track, “Awake,” goes into a whole new territory. Not only is it one of the shortest songs at just under five minutes, nearly half of its runtime is spent on an a stripped down acoustic guitar and vocal performance, the other instrumentation coming in more with a whisper than a scream. The screaming does not start until 2:14 and that is only the guitars and even then only in the most melodic way each riff complimenting the others and the drums taking on an almost militaristic snare roll, all culminating in a celestial cool-down for the last 40 seconds or so.
Track five, “Weight of the Mind's Periapt,” similar to “Leave” in its intense but heartfelt emotions. The tones are dirty but melodic, the drums serving their purpose almost subtly. The vocals counter-point the instrumentation by taking on a deep, rumbling, indistinct growl that is more piteous than frightening. Like a creature in pain more than demon about to lay waste to your soul. Pain alleviated by 5:13, the gentle, angelic voice last heard on “Amethyst” returning like a redemption cycle, joined by a chorus of the same.
Track number six, oddly titled “11:34,” runs only three minutes and is made up almost entirely of synthesizer. Starting slow and low, the melody builds up in terms of both speed, traces of guitar chiming in near the end.
The seventh and final track, “Selene,” takes a turn for the surreal, the opening strains played not even on an acoustic guitar but a ukulele. Played with all the technique, style and emotion that has come to be associated with Metal genre. Metal, at its core, being more about technique than instrumentation. It does not last long, however, the usual cast of guitar tones taking over, the growl coming back in a big way, though not so harsh that it is just noise accentuated by vocal breaks, the growl giving way to a quasi-monastic choral harmony. The guitars have some good grime in their tone though often have the angels singing through them.