By: Andy Price
Eleanora | facebook | bandcamp |
Released on May 6, 2016 via Consouling Sounds
Whenever I see Consouling Sounds on a record spine, I immediately think ‘Amenra’. In some cases I’m then slightly distraught when what I listen to isn’t Amenra, but that’s at least partially because Amenra are awesome. So this makes Eleanora’s debut long player both satisfying and slightly surprising in its delivery of a sludgey post Amenra feel, but with large dashes of screamo and even the very occasional breakdown. It’s, to be honest, a slightly odd mix, but it works surprisingly well.
The four tracks of Allure are all hefty in scope and scale, with combined running time of about 45 minutes and take in the lumbering density and emotional resonance of Amenra, but adding the urgency and tight riffing of Neil Perry and Saetia, with irregular breakdowns, as random as that sounds. The record reflects a continuation of the path the band started with their 2014 self-titled EP and the split 10” with Amenra that was released last year, and the most ambitious set of songs released yet, with two songs cresting the 10 minute mark, and nothing on display running to less than 8 mins, it’s the kind of a beast that needs solid time to sink in.
Quick impressions first – the production is great. Thick guitars rest on top of sonorous bass and driving, well-pitched drums with a surprising amount of heft. Vocals nestle in the mix and are terrifying; throat-rending, violent unhinged shrieks that make the skin crawl and convey genuine pain.
The music is just plain heavy, connecting viscerally and eliciting genuine feelings of doom, dread and sadness in places. The overall dynamic is slow and doomy, but injecting post-hardcore / screamo riffage into sections of the songs is particularly effective at switching up the music, upping the aggression. Opener ‘Menis’ is a great example of this, with a Neil Perry style choppy fast paced riff dropping onto an expansive Amenra style loping rhythm, lacerated with pitched screams. The band change this up again by dropping the volume to nothing for the central movement of the song, effectively breaking the song down to its constituent parts and rebuilding the rhythm in a manner reminiscent of crust heroes Fall of Efrafa, creating a crescendo before dropping into a riff-y groove, and devolving further into a doomy sludge finale. The 11 minute run time of the song allows for evolution of these movements; at no point does the song feel pointlessly extended or overlong, it feels like the constituent parts have been given the air to breathe – ironic given the claustrophobic atmosphere generated on the track.
‘Sovereign in Mind Subjected In Kind’ lulls into a false sense of security with a gentle picked introduction, before exploding into a mournful loping groove, faintly reminiscent of Neurosis, before bringing brutal sludge to the fore. The gentle pace is arrested halfway through the track; aggressive post-hardcore riffing increases the pace, with the riff evolving to maintain the pressure and the intensity, it is punishing but never gets tiring. ‘My Scepter Sword Of Vengeance’ follows a similar pattern, bringing lumbering doom to the fore for a truly crushing finale. Closer ‘Telos’ is probably the jewel in the crown though; 16 minutes of glorious doomy glory, bringing relentless riffs and a constant riff that lulls the listener. It’s a song that gets prettier as it progresses, starting rough, blunt and almost thuggish, and piling on layers of downcast melody, evoking a tragic majesty, right through the crescendo and into the final quiet refrains of the song as a lone guitar fades out.
Overall the record manages to struggle out of the shadow of its influences, mostly by dint of some great song writing, by cleverly cherry-picking from a number of genres, including doom, screamo, post-hardcore and sludge, and still retaining a clear and consistent personality, and by displaying real courage in not cutting movements down, instead allowing sections to breathe irrespective of their run-time and evolve into something huge – this demonstrates a real trust placed in the listener too, and an understanding that listeners will not go looking for the quick satisfaction. The album as a whole is a real journey, majestic in its scope and stature, a rough cut diamond of brutality, all uneven sharp edges and stunning beauty. Highly recommended, and not just if you like Amenra; everyone should hear this.