Archive for Nightrage

Review: Ellipse

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on January 25, 2013 by Magadh

Ellipse L’Ampleur du Vide

ellipseI’ve taken a lot longer writing this review than I otherwise might have. Which is not to say that I’ve devoted a particularly great degree of thought or craft to its actual composition. And certainly not that, as you can see, that I’ve actually written a huge amount about it. It was more a matter of it sounding like something else, something in particular, and not being able to remember exactly what that something was. This precipitated a search through my collection of Gothenburg deathmetal releases, which is pretty extensive. My search was ultimately crowned with success although, as will become clear below, the fruits of such success were not really consonant with the amount of time that devoted to the search.

Anyway, what the hell, you may ask, am I talking about? I’m talking about a little six song release by a band from Nantes called Ellipse. As you’ve probably gathered from the statements above, the general stylistic territory explored by Ellipse is the Gothenburg style of deathmetal. Since its origins in the early 1990s, this particular medium of expression has been quite thoroughly explored and it is arguable that a lot of the creative spirit has been drained out of it. This is at least the case if one takes the fact that Evergrey, a band shorn of any guts or substance, are still able to sell records. Even excepting the deficient entries in the field, it must be said that this is a wide, although still fertile, stylistic zone.

Those daring to enter such a crowded field undertake a risky endeavor. It is all too easy to become yet another nameless practitioner in an overloaded style. Ellipse, it must be said, have a few things going for them. They have rock solid musicianship, which is an absolute must for this particular line. They have a female vocalist (and quite a good one at that) and this immediately separates them from the deathmetal pack. Their lyrics are in French, which I regard as a major plus. As a native speaker of English, I have the luxury that most bands sort of concede to the hegemony of my mother tongue. I understand why they do it, but it is refreshing to hear a band that doesn’t. Too few English speakers take the time to learn another language, and merely assume that the world’s culture will make the effort to come to them. For a number of reasons this expectation is justified, but it is pleasant to see people resist the temptation.

If you only listened to the first thirty seconds of this disc, you would assume that they were going to sound like Katatonia in the Discouraged Ones era (which is no bad thing). They then move on to hit a range of stylistic points within the subgenre, sounding now like Dark Tranquility, now like Carnal Forge, now like later period Nightrage. The similarity to the last mentioned act is pronounced, and I am rather ashamed to say that it took me upwards of an hour to identify the similarity.

The fact that Ellipse sound like a lot of other bands is not by any means a criticism. Such is the nature of this particular format that it is unavoidable. In L’Ampleur du Vide they have put together quite an appealing release. Their take on the style as fast and aggressive with a compelling melodic element that keeps one interested. And this is, as far as I am concerned, a major achievement. If you’ve been following the deathmetal scene for any length of time, you’ve heard this kind of thing before. To hear it done in a ways that makes you want to hear it again is a rare and excellent experience.

This live clip gives a pretty good idea of what they’re all about.

Magadh

Review: Enabler

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , on August 2, 2012 by Magadh

Enabler, All Hail the Void Southern Lord

The first thing I thought when I heard this record was, are these guys really from North America? It’s not like this sort of music is never made on this side of the Atlantic, but for every Black Dahlia Murder or Darkest Hour, Europe produces two dozen bands on the model of Carnal Forge, Nightrage, Fear My Thoughts (feel free to spin this list out as long as your sanity will bear). Yes, Milwaukee’s Enabler can be classified as part of the latter day development originated in the Gothenburg death metal sound of the late 1980s/early 1990s. But, lest one fear that we are simply going to pigeonhole them with this label, let it be said that Enabler have produced a wicked disc with a sound that is, if not all their own, a fresh take on the genre.

Let us take Black Dahlia Murder as a point of comparison, both because they plow a somewhat similar stylistic furrow as Enabler and because they hail from roughly the same part of the country. Before going further, allow me to say that the version of BDM that I am discussing is what they were playing in the first half of the aughties, i.e. around the time of Unhallowed and Miasma, after which I kind of lost interest. The first thing that really distinguishes Enabler is their guitar sound. I don’t think that they are tuned down quite as far as BDM, but the sound that they achieve on All Hail the Void is meaner and nastier by a long length, recalling the sort of thick, razors through flesh type of sound that emerged from Sunlight Studios all those years ago. Ok, maybe they don’t quite reach the dank heaviness of Left Hand Path, but they are close enough to make the comparison valid.

Where other bands have marched down the tried and true paths of the Swedish deathmetal scene, Enabler merge this style with an element of crust that gives their music a tone and feel that is all its own. In addition, there are elements on All Hail the Void that fans of the U.S. deathmetal scene of the 1980s will find satisfying. There are blast beats here, a goodly number of them in fact, but used in such a way as to move the songs forward rather than just wallowing in them. There are also pleasing elements of melody that provide a nice change up from the aggression that spews forth in most of the tunes on this record.

Once again, Southern Lord has picked a winner. From start to finish, All Hail the Void is blistering blackened HC at its very very best. This is a band that could really go a long way. Should they choose to, Enabler have the option to be a really dominant act in this field. Their next disc will tell us a lot about what they are going to be. That is for the future. For now it is enough to rock hard and enjoy a real slug of excellence. Well played, gentlemen.
[Note: I really dig these guys’ attitude, if this interview in Noisecreep is anything to go by.]

Magadh