Released: 2006, Woodcut Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
What is it with all of these reunions, comebacks, etc.? First, Kampfar wows us with their spectacular seven-years-after comeback, KVASS, and now…Enochian Crescent—-a band sorely missed by more than a few of us-—get the seven year itch, as well. And boy, is this one scratchy.
Elements of this are going to through old fans for a loop, while positively delighting others. Compositionally speaking, it may be the band’s most mature effort…but is it Black Metal? That’s a far more difficult question to answer. At times leaning closer to the organized chaos of an Akercocke or IX: EQUILIBRIUM-era Emperor (minus the keyboards) in its full-on fusion of Death Metalish elements with unabashedly Black Metal viscera, it’s a record so utterly dense and baffling, that it not so much transcends genres as pulls the odd one up, knocks it down, and shits on its chest.
This is not to say there are no recognizable moments: “Chalk Face” reminds one at times of Khold; bands like Satyricon and Gorgoroth are clearly in the bands’ collective I-Pods. But what commands the majority of the listeners’ fickle attentions, though to a lesser extent than with the last LP, are the nearly symphonic ambience of the composition…which is achieved, once more, entirely without keyboards or any actual orchestral arrangements. Enochian Crescent are, and have always been, masters of atmosphere-—and this is still very much the case (“Thousand Shadows,” for instance). The war-like swagger of “Tridents Clash” produces an ambience drunk with the promise of conflict. This, like “Tango Absinto,” represents a special set of peaks and arches within the recording wherein all of the experimentation comes to fruition. Otherwise, the album—while certainly proficient—leaves one with the feeling that it may all come dangerously unhinged at any moment.
If there is an Achilles Heel here, it is the vocals, which are somewhere between Tomas Lindberg and Cobra Commander from the old GI Joe cartoon. The vocalist’s high-pitch rasps and shrieks often detract from one’s ability to take this album’s potentially more haunting moments seriously. Lyrically and thematically as obtuse as ever, the ecclesiastical presentation works here: In the end, this is one Church that devout Black Metal aficionados will immediately wish to burn...to their hard drives, that is.
Highlights: “Tango Absinto,” “Thousand Shadows,” “Tridents Clash.”