released September 1, 2010
The new full length (number two) from the Boston based avant-black/death/doom band Ehnahre, Taming The Cannibals, is one of the more cerebral and challenging "death metal" albums to have come through the Crucial Blast headquarters this year. After being turned on to their excellent debut from 2008 The Man Closing Up, I've been itching to hear more from these warped death abstractionists; their debut instantly dazed me with its jarring, alien approach to bestial slow-motion death metal, drawing heavily from the twelve-tone serialism of composer Arnold Schoenberg and the outer fringes of free-jazz and free improvisation as much as they do from the foul black pit of early 90's death metal and doom. Even after years of devouring the most dissonant strains of death metal that I could get my mitts on (Gorguts, Demilich, Immolation, Portal, etc.), these guys stunned me with their extreme chaotic dissonance and pitch-black chthonic textures, a combination of atonal 20th century classical music and vicious blackened death laced with squalls of free-jazz horns, stretches of intense choral ambience, and blasts of calcifying glacial doom. Featuring former members of the prog/gothic art-rock band Kayo Dot and avant-death metallers Biolich, Ehnahre are creating some of the most difficult death metal I've heard since Obscura, but also manage to balance the extreme atonality and relentlessly unpredictable nature of their arrangements with seething aggression and crushing riffage.
Taming The Cannibals is a continuation of their discordant black art, six lengthy tracks of demented and distended death metal and harrowing atonal composition, their chilling guitar textures and bizarre chordal moves merging with distant, keening muezzin-like vocals and monstrous, blood-gargling shrieks, extended percussive wig-outs that veer into pure jazz territory, and vast black fields of nightmarish ambience. Once again, the band employs horns and strings, this time from guest musicians Greg Kelley of Heathen Shame on trumpet and C Spencer Yeh (Burning Star Core) on violin, draping sheets of high end amorphous violin skree and free jazz blowing across the ethereal blastscapes and apocalyptic feedback of "Clatterbones" and the bloated black doom and spacious horror of "Foehn". Minimal electronic grit and glitch and crackle is woven through the cacophony, subtle keys float beneath the hyper complex riffs. Soft crooning vocals (courtesy of Jonah Jenkins from Only Living Witness/Milligram/Raw Radar War/Miltown) emerge, dreamlike, drifting on abyssal lullabies. And all the while, Ehnahre pull the listener ever deeper into their claustrophobic depths, crafting a terrifying, hellish vision of blackened jazz-doom that will set skin to crawling and nerves on edge, while their haunting lyrics draw from a number of unexpected influences such as Irish poet F. R. Higgins, Austrian Expressionist Georg Trakl, Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself", and American poet/environmentalist Robinson Jeffers.
An immense new disc from Ehnahre that heads even further "out" than their previous album; it's highly recommended to fans of the furthest extremes of avant garde death metal and doom, Disembowelment, Phlebotomized, Demilich, Starkweather, Gorguts, Pan.Thy.Monium, Portal, and the heavier moments of Kayo Dot's earlier recordings. The disc comes in a four-panel digipack with an eight page booklet.
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