It’s been two years since Enabler‘s All Hail The Void descended onto the scene beating its chest and thrusting its gargantuan metal-core knackers in our faces. All Hail The Void was an impetuous first album, enthusiastically weaving its way through hardcore, crust, death, grind, d-beat, thrash and other sub genres – why not make up your own? Since the release of their debut, Enabler have gone through numerous line-up changes, slimmed down to operate as a three piece, moved from the auspicious Southern Lord label to The Compound & Creator-Destructor Records and released a couple of EP’s (Flies and Shift Of Redemption) both of which were critically well received.
The anthemic Close My Eyes opens things up at breakneck speed and sets the tone for the entire album. Tinged with an 80’s thrash influence, a hint of melody in the vocals – it’s not what I expected but a refreshing surprise. It is immediately apparent the focus of the album is song writing. Nearly every song has been stripped of musical self-indulgence, hurtling the listener from riff to riff. The complexity and variation of riff styles has been reigned in from previous work. This is straight forward hardcore. Any dalliances with other genres of metal exist merely as a confident flourish.
The energetic production, handled by Today Is The Day’s Steve Austin, lends itself well to the tone of the album; guitars and drums jostling at the fore seeming to only just give Lohrbers vocals the space they need to have impact. Every sound is driven so hard they seem as if they may disintegrate completely; the guitar tone – crusted with distortion; the bass (when it does make its way to the front) – fuzzed out beyond recognition but retaining low end gravitas; the drums – loose, splashy with a ball tightening snare snap, relentlessly moving things forward. Despite pushing everything within a ball-hair of muddied nonsense the mix retains presence – testament to Austin’s talent behind the faders. Lohrber himself is in great voice – spitting every syllable with enthusiasm and venom. His performance is solid throughout and delivers vitriolic hooks that catch your ear with satisfying regularity.
La Fin Absolue Du Monde is three tracks deep before Neglect gives the first sniff of a breakdown. Bass and vocals snarling over a percussive tom build before (FINALLY) dropping that sweet, head-nod riff gravy. The change of pace is used to powerful effect, swiftly progressing to short bursts of grind before returning to its d-beat origins to finish. The fleeting delivery of the big riff payoff is a prevalent feature throughout the album and while it maintains the aesthetic of the band in its rawest state, it is a noticeable departure from previous releases.
The consistent nosebleed pace of the first half of the album makes Balance Of Terror mid paced, four on the floor drums and wailing guitar riff intro a complete surprise – kicking the door in with unprecedented rock and roll swagger, blowing smoke in their metaphorical Gran’s face, giving their metaphorical Dad the metaphorical finger. Lohrber screams “We all pay for life with death so everything in between should be free!” as the band lunge into a confident Anthrax-esque palm-mute stomp. Any hopes of this becoming a mainstream crossover success are dashed as bassist Amanda Daniels adds sung vocals during the post chorus breakdown. The vocal line is uninteresting, sung amateurishly and jarrs horribly from the confidence that the rest of the album exudes.
There is another, much more concise, attempt at the mid pace stomp later in the album, a reworking of Sickened By The Wake from last year’s Flies EP. It’s been tightened up considerably; snappier pace, superfluous sections cut and vastly better production. The result is an incredibly catchy, stand out “single” for the band, which is not something I came to this album expecting. Proof that there is no arguing with a good riff, a big hook and beat you can jump up and down to, this will no doubt become a live favourite.
Concerns that Enabler may have sold out, perhaps influenced by that shady Falloutboy drummer in their midst, are dispelled as Prey screeches and howls nastily into existence. Guitars barely distinguishable; drums having the absolute piss and shit beaten out of them; three fret melting riffs; a final refrain of Lohrber, incandescent with rage, repeatedly screaming “PREY!” One minute, six seconds of absolute violence.
Things tail off near the end of the album. Linear Existence is pretty pedestrian in comparison to what has come before and after all the high velocity rage and intensity the album ends with a disappointing wet fart Consequence. There is almost nothing positive to say about the final track, it feels like they had some riffs left over at the end of the writing process and half-heartedly stuck them together. The final sequence features a chunky quarter time riff, which fades out for ten seconds, then back up for no reason whatsoever. It’s meaningless and un-inventive – contradictory of the majority of the album.
For the most part La Fin Absolue Du Monde is a strong album that sits well amongst the rest of Enablers material and certainly contains some of their catchiest tunes. The breakneck pace coupled with Lohrber’s unrelenting, vicious delivery and ear worm hooks are a compelling listen. Perhaps it’s nostalgia? There is something about the album that reminds me of being fifteen years old, hammered on cheap cider and listening to Offspring’s ‘Smash.’
…just to clarify, that’s definitely a good thing.
Scribed by: Gareth Gordon