Ehnahre - The Man Closing Up Review
by Mark Hensch
Ehnahre expands the boundaries of doom-death metal with their complex debut, The Man Closing Up. Expressing the genre's basic necessities through a postmodern slant, Man meticulously crafts intricate compositions which collapse under the weight of their own nuances. Ehnahre stacks multiple layers of jazzy doom-death, all before deconstructing them into startling moments of alienation, abandon and loneliness. The end result is an atmosphere less like concrete certainty, and more like the chaotic waves of confusion.
Divided into five portions, Man streams through a series of seemingly random musical moments like the mind's frantic associations. There are passages of blastbeat-drenched death metal, crushing doom, paranoid free jazz and even dreamy singing. Spastic and yet subtly ordered, the disc betrays the ebb and flow of order and chaos throughout modern life.
"Part I" stutters its way through an opening salvo of atonal doom and intermittent drum eruptions. After this, it patiently works its way into an assault of blackened blastbeating, the vitriolic vocals leading the charge. As the song's manic energy wears out, it closes with a dissonant passage of noisy, messy jazz rumbles. Ending with ringing, single guitar notes, the absence of the previous mania is every bit as frightening as the portions of schizophrenic violence.
Up next is "Part II," the album's crowning glory. Bursts of dissonance wrestle with desperate, strangled vocals, producing a hellish mindscape. Spurts of frantic tremolo-melodies stab out of the gloom again and again, eventually overwhelming everything. The finale is a struggle between an echoing wall of sound and mournful, clean sing-songs. The song's last wail is a poignant one, lasting far beyond any the disappearance of the music itself.
"Part III" goes right for the jugular, blitzkrieging with the senseless violence of relentless blastbeats and crazed guitar rhythms. Jittery ambience creeps and crawls through the wreckage of doom riffs, accompanied by the specter of creaking violin chords. The entire affair sounds like the tortured sinking of a ship into desolate seas.
"Part IV," meanwhile, is the album's longest song. Are its passages of unnerving noise seagulls, evil guitar tones or the wheezing of a dying man? The answer is ambiguous, but one thing is certain. "IV" is spooky and strange, skittering moments of doubt buried under the monotonous trudge of doom riffing.
Last but not least is "Part V," a hate-filled anthem which intersperses dirge-paced rhythms with howls of anguish. An explosion of polyrhythmic brutality occurs, replete with hellish trumpets. Ending things is a choir of female singers, halfway between eerie and angelic. In true T.S. Eliot fashion, the last sound on Man is a whisper, a soft caress infinitely more memorable than any heavy metal bang.
Dark and despairing, The Man Closing Up captures the wide range of overwhelming emotions caused by the existential crisis. Though it provides no answers for the apathy and anxiety felt by man, the questions it raises are even more compelling. For those willing to sink deeper into the mire of mankind's dilemma, this is the album for you.
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