Ennead // Frozen Eyes
Rating: 4.0/5.0 — A serious and promising EP
Release Dates: Jan 2012
It is, as you all know, difficult to keep up with the number of unsigned bands that we get music from. But, usually as a matter of luck, I occasionally decide that I have time to check something out (or I’m just avoiding my work). Fortunately, I followed the link to a Bandcamp (that’s usually a thing that gets me to click unsigned bands) for some itsy-bitsy, teeny, teeny, teeny-tiny Swedish metalcore-influenced prog-metallers Ennead who are writing music better than a lot of signed acts that I get these days when they can’t even grow facial hair. Sometimes I follow links and am unimpressed and turn the shit off, saving the band face. In this case, however, Ennead snuck up on me and surprised—and impressed—the hell out of me.
Of the EP’s 27 minutes, the first 6 minutes made me a bit nervous. Starting with an “Overture,” which set the tone pretty well, the EP opens up with “Frozen Eyes.” This track starts off with a sort of modern In Flames feel to it, chuggy and melodic, before dropping into a half time chunky riff. Jumping into the verse, vocalist Tim Stridh was singing a bit, but I was a bit turned off by guitarist and backup vocalist Andreas’ sort of Anders Fridén approach to the sort of screamy whiny thing to offset the melodic parts. The track reminded me of Avenged Sevenfold or Unearth in its delivery—vocally and musically—but the chorus caught me and the downtempo bridge enchanted me with its vocal harmonies, before smoothly building up to an intense (and entertaining) breakdown and final crescendo. While a little cookie cutter and uncomfortable at times, the ending “Frozen Eyes,” did enough to keep me listening to get to the real meat of the record.
The next 21 minutes, made up of tracks “Death by Drought,” “Mourningstar” and “Successor,” show off a wide variety of feels and style influences that help the band keep things fresh and to break out beyond the barely better than cliché opening track. “Death by Drought,” shows off the chunky modern metal vibes and mixes them with Opethy 6/8 swing and Tool or Soenesque vocal melodies and bass driven groove. “Mourningstar,” starts out with clean guitars and some beautiful melodies that are melancholy but simultaneously catchy, before launching into swelling pre-chorus and a djentesque, lurching chorus that half-steps back down to the verse. While this track also ends up with vocalist Stridh (or is it Pistolelis screaming?) doing his best New England hardcore talky impression, the track is largely driven by the clean vocal performance, which is brilliant. The final track, “Successor,” starts out with Amon Amarth style pummeling and trem-picked melodies before jumping into a gang-chanting, hardcore verse. But again, Ennead distinguishes itself with the chorus melodies and the Arabic influenced licks run on a clean guitar underneath the thick, chunky riffs. And while the song continues to build in intensity, the band launches into some heavily groovy material and once again ending on a melodic crescendo before fading out with piano—like Frozen Eyes began.
What these guys do best, in my opinion, is fuse their influences into epic soundscapes. Their songs twist and turn, often having surprising melodic ideas and amazing zeniths. These moments are enchanting and addicting and keep the listener coming back. It’s impressive how the band, while not as technically able as Eminent or Riverside (it’ll come), writes intellectually stimulating music that blends all of these styles as diverse as Arabic music influences and Korn-like 90s chug into a cohesive and impressive whole. All of the musicians playing on this EP are eminently talented. With the rhythm section showing off their flare occasionally (particularly on “Death by Drought”) and the guitarists impressing with melodically interesting guitar solos and riffs. Frozen Eyes is a super promising EP from a super promising band. Drop the half-good, cookie cutter title track and this is one of the best 3 track demos I’ve ever heard. It’s free and it’s worth listening to and mentioning to your friends.