(Austin Weber brings us his review of the new album by the Boston-based ensemble Ehnahre, as well as the premiere of a full stream of this fascinating new record.)
Ehnahre are one of the most interesting groups in metal, a lot of which is due to how much their music draws so liberally from outside of metal, specifically from classical music, chamber music, jazz, film score music, avant-garde, improv, and beyond, with all of this married to a love for all things experimental and harsh, wrapped inside a doom metal, death metal, and sometimes black metal influenced framework.
They’re a rare group, one whose sound is amorphous and ever-shifting from release to release and from song to song, delivered with a scope and love for long-form compositions that ends up making their music feel like it’s a world all its own. For those new to Ehnahre, both current and former members have spent time playing in fellow avant-garde metal experimentalists Kayo Dot if you need further evidence that this project is worth paying attention to.
I’ve been following the project for many years now, and finally got around to covering them here at NCS starting in 2016 when we helped Ehnahre do an exclusive early stream of their sprawling double album, Douve. That was followed by a second 2016 release in the form of an EP called Nothing and Nothingness, that I also made sure to cover here at NCS. So I’m happy to continue supporting them here with an early stream of their new album, The Marrow.
Anyone who has kept up with what I cover undoubtedly can guess that The Marrow is the sort of release our more adventurous readers will easily fall in love with. This is music for people who want to hear what they haven’t heard before. Full of bold and unique mergers between disparate sounds and styles, exploring realms unknown, guided by masterful musicianship with a sense of ambition to it that you don’t often find in metal music rooted in doom and death/doom.
Disturbing and often incredibly harsh, yet also rooted in soundscape-type exploration filled with lighter textures, The Marrow covers an incredible amount of sonic ground, and as usual, does so in a way that’s quite different than what’s come before it.
The emphasis here is mainly on lengthy songs, ones that embrace a minimalist feeling, yet are often broken up by moments of hellish intensity and metal-minded madness to cover the other side of the coin beyond minimalist terrain. The release has only four songs, yet most of them feel more like a full EP’s worth of content in and of themselves.
The release begins with the massive 18-minute opener, “The Crow Speaks”, a disturbing yet often beautiful composition that slowly but surely ratchets up a queasy intensity and otherworldly atmosphere, one that definitely reminds me of film score music overall, though it does diverge into heavier passages inspired by more typical-sounding metal music. It also makes me think of being behind the sun, beaming down and frying all sentient beings below in an unforgiving and dry desert. If Dante’s Inferno had a soundtrack, it would be “The Crow Speaks”, and The Marrow as a whole.
Following that is another mammoth-sized, 14-minute track called “A Wandering Fire”, which, like “The Crow Speaks”, kicks off with a sparse soundscape-type extended introduction, though it morphs into a beast of its own once a chorus of pained howls and cries pierce through the song a few minutes in, which transitions into passages of dark and disturbing dissonance, paired with warped electronic layers pulsing in the background. For those looking for the most doom-heavy song on the release, “A Wandering Fire” will be the one you might enjoy most.
However, the track that follows, an 11-minute ode to torment and baptism by flame called “Godhead” also features a fairly death/doom-focused palette as well; it’s just wrapped in layers of madness that defy convention, but that’s par for the course for Ehnahre.
Finally, the album comes to a curious end with the title track “The Marrow”, which also serves as the album’s shortest composition, clocking in at just eight minutes. Almost as if to complete a circuitous path back to where the release began, “The Marrow” sees the group focusing almost exclusively on the meeting of film-score and modern classical music, which likewise forms the primary focus of that opener, “The Crow Speaks” — though “The Marrow” does pull another surprising trick by leaving the song as entirely instrumental until the very end when it closes with more pained howls, a creepy and fitting way to end a creepy and brilliant release.
*The Marrow will be released by Ehnahre under their label, Painted Throat Music, and officially drops this Friday, August 25th. Keep an eye on their Bandcamp page since it will be available there soon.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/345745098?secret_token=s-5XCLr” params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]