Painting with shades of Kayo Dot (of which the band has ties to) at their most outré and the visceral noise of the late Khanate, and fueled by elements of classical music, free improvisation and a myriad of other unorthodox influences, Ehnahre compose otherworldly pieces that spit in the face of genre convention with a malicious grin.
Since the release of 2008’s The Man Closing Up this Boston-based avant-garde act has become increasingly harder to define, showing that the band would much rather inch towards utter strangeness and obscurity than stagnate creatively. The apex of this continual sonic evolution and glorious deviance of music as a whole, at least for now, is reached on their fifth full-length opus, The Marrow; a wholly unique and delightfully unsettling sonic vision.
With four lengthy tracks and over 50 minutes at their disposal, The Marrow provides a haunting soundtrack to the Theodore Roethke poem of the same that teeters on the edge of complete madness. As evidenced by the 19-minute opening track “The Crow Speaks”, The Marrow is far from an easy listen.
A menagerie of percussive sounds frantically gallop during the initial moments of “The Crow Speaks”, and are accompanied by faint, stringed scrapes and eerie metallic hums. Buzzing distortion and nauseating, tremolo-picked guitars eventually come into play and are led by Ryan McGuire’s wraith-like rasps into a calamitous burst of noise that bleeds into a sprawling, pseudo drone metal march. The sparse, down-tuned guitars reverberate throughout the listener’s skull as McGuire screams like tortured mental patient during these metal adjacent moments. The track then cycles back-and-forth in a discombobulating fashion between these Sunn O)))-meets-The Necks drone metal barrages and improvised sections of instrumental debauchery, before concluding with a syncopated double bass walk and walls of spectral noise.
“A Wandering Fire” kicks off with a strange pitter-patter of percussion, perhaps created with found items, that calls early Nurse With Wound material to mind. Soon the track becomes enveloped in these swirling winds of ethereal atmospheres and layered, choral voices and Gregorian chants. McGuire’s pain-stricken shrieks call out among this strange and somber display, paving the way for a densely rhythmic cacophony of frenetic double bass riffs, erratic percussion and angular, abstract guitar riffs. From here, the song launches into a city-leveling doom metal assault that trudges menacingly towards the song’s conclusion.
The 11-minute “Godhead” begins rather subdued with a simplistic, repetitious double bass thud and gliding, gossamer-thin sound effects that wrap around these lurching rhythms. As the song progresses, the bass continues its bullheaded march while equally simplistic and repetitious piano riffs join the party, as well as distorted guitars that churn out a variety of improvised leads. The song gradually becomes noisier and more dense as multiple layers of instrumentation begin to pile on top of one another, eventually becoming a free jazz doom experiment that traps the listener in its cyclical, hypnotic rhythmic patterns.
The album is brought to a close by its surprisingly serene title track. The bass hums and murmurs sporadically with a beautiful melancholy across this eight-minute tune, while the guitars and keys provide an icy, atmospheric backdrop that almost parody post-rock. The off-kilter rhythms and overall unorthodox structure of the track retains the band’s penchant for weirdness, but disregards the bulk of their sinister nature in favor of this oddly beautiful climax. Even when McGuire screams the final the lines to the song during the last thirty seconds or so, the track refuses to give up its strange sense of tranquility.
Ehnahre‘s The Marrow is a mostly frightening and claustrophobic affair that defies categorization and will keep listeners on the edges of their seats if they can handle it.
Release Date: August 25, 2017
Label: Painted Throat Music
Favorite Tracks: “A Wandering Fire”
For Fans Of: Khanate, Gnaw, Kayo Dot, Sunn O))), Nurse With Wound, Swans and Time of Orchids