Enabler_Fail to Feel SafeLast year Enabler put out one hell of a record in La Fin Absolue du Monde. I didn’t score it, as we don’t do that for our Things You Might Have Missed features, but you can tell how much I loved it by its presence at the top of my Top Ten end-of-year list, above even Voices‘ wonderful London. Looking back I might swap them around, but no matter; it’s a killer album, so when Madam X received the promo for Enabler‘s latest opus she kindly sent it in my direction. I was, naturally, throbbing with anticipation.

Shortly after receiving this promo, though, came the news that Enabler‘s former bassist Amanda Daniels had accused frontman Jeff Lohrber – who played all the instruments on this latest record – of sustained physical and sexual abuse. If you read metal news sites you will no doubt already know about this; if not, Kim Kelly’s recent interview with Amanda is essential reading. She describes some pretty heinous stuff. Now, I am a parasitic narcissist, so of course my first concerns on hearing the news were about how this would affect my enjoyment of the band. As it turns out, not insignificantly. Enabler were fantastic at conveying pure anger in catchy metallic-hardcore form, but it’s hard to listen to a band selling rage when you know their main songwriter may express his own through domestic violence.

But let’s pretend for a while that I can be objective about the music here (hahaha): is it still good? Album opener “Suffer to Survive” suggests that it might just be, continuing from where La Fin Absolue du Monde left off with its combination of catchy riffs, vitriolic vocals and driving intensity. It’s not quite the beginning “Close my Eyes” was, but a good start nonetheless. Title track “Fail to Feel Safe” continues in rapid-fire d-beat mode before introducing a new element to Enabler‘s sound: the emotionally rousing melodic chorus. While they’ve incorporated prominent melody before, they’ve never done it so blatantly and straightforwardly as they do here, and it comes across as rather sappy. Mawkish melodies also feature in “By Demons Denied,” “Demolition Praise,” and make up the whole of pseudo-epic “Malady,” which tragically brings to mind early-2000s emocore. Lohrber decided to accompany these sections with his clean vocals, which was a mistake.

Enabler_2015

Between these missteps are some genuinely excellent riffs underpinned by Lohrber’s tight and creative drumming: the openings of “By Demons Denied,” “Sinister Drifter” and the title track are fantastic, the slow build and release in “Euphoric Revenge” – though ruined by dynamic range compression – is bound to get heads banging, and some of the more straightforwardly poppy riffs are undeniably infectious. But these moments are sandwiched between less exciting segments ranging from uninspired filler to insipid dross. “Sail the Sea of Fire” is largely throwaway pap, “Demolition Praise” shifts from fast, fun pop-punk to tedious, slow repetition of an entirely generic riff, and I’ve already taken a pop at the terrible “Malady.” On average the tracks are longer; Lohrber frequently attempts to squeeze several moods into the same song, usually by writing an “epic” ending. While I’m all for diversity, it really doesn’t work here, instead making the record sound unfocussed.

The mastering has also really hurt this album: it’s DR5 and a bad one at that. Any textural variation has been sacrificed at the alter of loudness, with all builds and breakdowns neutered by the compression. Clipping manifests at various points, and well before the end of the record I was suffering listening fatigue. The bass is largely inaudible, and while the guitars are thick and gritty, there’s no definition to them so they frequently descend into mush.

This is not a terrible record by any means, but it is immensely disappointing when compared against their back-catalogue. From a purely music perspective it’s far from a fitting epitaph for a once excellent band, but really that’s a moot point when you’re listening to songs called “Suffer to Survive” and “Fail to Feel Safe” written by an (alleged) serial abuser. Avoid.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media
Websites: enablerband.com | enabler.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: August 7, 2015

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  • Doomdeathrosh

    Its crazy, the frenzy whipped up in the media over the entire fiasco! It was definitely bound to affect him. And it seems people are going to avoid this album anyway!
    Back to the music, this is definitely inferior to La Fin Absolue Du Monde. Its just like he’s angry to the point of smashing every insect in the room to mush!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Fuck this guy, fuck any weak arsehole who physically abuses a partner or kids. I got no sympathy … I hail Amanda and the so many other, mostly women and kids who have to put up with these cowardly pieces of shit.
    I strongly urge metal heads not to walk past this sort of behaviour. There is no excuse for physically or psychologically abusing loved ones.

    • Put an “allegedly” in there!

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Yes true, thanks Steel Druhm, this issue cuts deep for me. I run off.

    • But this is also why I read reviews here and virtually at no other website. I hate dealing with people (fans) excusing – alleged or not – abusive behaviour. It’s so comforting to read these kinds of comments.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Good review dude. This is a tough one with all the shit surrounding it.

  • 517H

    I think you pulled off the objectiveness in your review just right. Objectivity should examine all pertinent aspects equally. On a side note – does one company do all lyric videos? Getting real tired of these types of videos

    • Kronos

      I really think we should do a stupid metal trends on lyric videos. I hate them with a passion

      • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

        Especially with a lot of metal music, where you don’t realize just how stupid and nonsensical a lot of lyrics are until they’re spelled out for you in 48 pt font.

  • Kronos

    Is that a bad Jacob Bannon cover or a cheap knockoff of a Jacob Bannon cover?

  • gustman17

    The embedded song is very good, though the clean vocals I could do without.
    It is hard not to read the whole situation surrounding the band in the lyrics. Hell, even the album title resounds with it.

    • The embedded track is one of the best on the record, but the ending is a bit crap. Needs to be shorter!

  • I, too, got a promo of this days before the news about Lorhber’s alleged crimes came out. I thought it was pretty great the first couple times I’ve heard it, but since the news I can’t get behind it – his shittiness sucked the life out of the record somehow, which wasn’t the case for the nostalgia trip I still get when I pull an As I Lay Dying record out of the woodwork.

    • Kronos

      While one cannot excuse Tim Lambesis’ actions, he seemed more like he was in a terrible state of mind in a terrible situation than just an asshole. I know people who have done similar things; they made a huge, inexcusable, terrible mistake in their life, but I can still respect them because I know who they are, not just that one thing they did.

      • Grymm

        I want to agree, but the interview he did with Ryan Downey for Alternative Press pretty much outed him as an opportunistic narcissist who was more than happy to throw others under the bus, including his own bandmates.

        Still obscenely tragic, no matter how you or I feel. I’m just glad no one was hurt.

  • Grymm

    Great job handling this situation tactfully, Jean-Luc.

  • Kronos

    Wow, this guy’s other work doesn’t look anywhere near that bad.

  • Pimpolho

    I have a question for you Jean-Luc, you said you would swap your number 1 record from last year, from Enabler, for Voices. Would you switch them because of the musicality or because of Jeff’s acts? Sorry for sucky English, and good job at the objectivity, for this is a GREAT review.

    • Your English is good! I’d swap them for musical reasons, but even there I am being biased because I listened to the Voices record a lot more when preparing for my interview with them. It’s got much more depth than the Enabler album.

  • Probably the fairest way to review this, great job JLR.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    There’s a lot surrpunding this album and withput all of it I think this would be my favorite of their discography, I like the sound much more than on it’s predecessor. On the other hand it’s got a few of their dullest moments too.
    All in all a good review.

    • Sir Tapir The Based :]

      Yo dude, your comment to Paris on ToH was deleted? Wtf?

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        I deleted it myself. Does it show at all?
        It was so poorly constructed I thought of making a new one but then you and Scrimm covered that.

        • Sir Tapir The Based :]

          I tried to answer to it with a mildly humorous response, but it said that the comment had been deleted by a moderator (I think that’s what it said).

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            I think it might say that because usually when you delete a comment it still shows as a “guest” comment. But unregistered users can’t leave comments there so the commemt is gone completely, as if a mod had deleted it.

    • Thanks! I vastly prefer the previous one, this is a lot less focussed and the mastering is horrific. But as you say, non-musical aspects also come into it…

  • Arikael

    I loved “La fin absolute du monde” and preordered “Fail to Feel Safe” month ago.
    Then the allegations surfaced and unfortunately they seem, all information available considered, true (as far as we as outsiders can tell).
    I’never downloaded or listened to the album so far and don’t plan on doing.

    • thiR

      There is something called legal actions and another one called due process. It seems quite likely that the allegations are true (he never denied these actions and what several people are saying is corroboring Daniels version). But the only structure able to say if this is true or not is a court.

      That said, as long as the band doesn’t promote beating up people, I’m alright with buying their music… given that I like it… unfortunately I find that this album is a big let down compared to La Fin Absolue du Monde.

  • Rowsdower

    Damn it, just discovered this band’s 2014 album before reading about what’s going on with them. It was nice while it lasted