Ehnahre - _Old Earth_
(Crucial Blast, 2012)
by: Dan Lake (7.5 out of 10)
Ehnahre has always been a palsied blend of stalker-friendly metal hostility, candlelit poetry reading, and improvisational free jazz perplexitude. Doom-scraped death metal as art project. It might help to know that "ehnahre" is just a phonetic spelling of NR, an impossibly obtuse reference to the phrase "Negative Reasoning" from an Eyehategod song (I'm not making this up; I got it from Metal Archives, so you know it's fucking true), and that the band is partially populated by ex-members of Kayo Dot. This clearly won't be metal that your average 'banger is gonna "get".

Just like their 2008 debut, _The Man Closing Up_, _Old Earth_ is presented as a single work in multiple parts. It takes the band a full seven minutes to remember they're recording, not just tuning and gear testing. This means that a listener has to approach the album with absolute dedication to the experience -- not great for a music journalist with six reviews on deck, but maybe just fine for digging into some Lovecraft or Baudelaire after a hard day's work feeding the Man's grasping hand. Once the percussive anti-rhythms and severe chords finally drop, Ehnahre split time between sounding like Khanate junkies, Portal acolytes, and Sunn O))) worshippers. Those comparisons bestow insight on the sounds of individual moments, not the arc of the album as a piece; no one would ever listen to any of those other bands expecting the same sort of spiky, deranged performances. Any of Ehnahre's head fakes toward familiarity lasts only a few seconds before winding down into some other brand of feverish minimalism.

"Old Earth II" ambles in on some pleasantly bassy bowed strings, soon accompanied by slow-plucked electric guitar notes. Brushed percussion slips in after about six minutes, mournful horns at around eight. Nothing in this second movement hints at any of the menace that gripped the back half of the lead track, unless the final build toward a slightly manic tension counts.

But, no, they've saved the metallic frenzy for "Old Earth III" and "Old Earth IV", respectively five- and eight-minute odes to blissful agony. In no way does any of the material here resemble anything remotely orthodox or comforting. Expect _Old Earth_ to be a jagged slog from start to finish, but also expect to learn some things you didn't know along the way.


(article published 28/7/2013)

1/8/2009 J Ulrey 8.5 Ehnahre - The Man Closing Up
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