Last year, two EPs caught me totally off-guard. For a long time I just couldn’t get on with any form of punk – despite my penchant for good grind – though in recent years my tastes have developed and I’ve been increasingly delving into the –core end of things. But I was totally unprepared for how much I would enjoy Tide of Iron’s split with Grace (The Hard Work EP), and even more so Enabler’s Flies. It’s rare to hear such a well-crafted expression of rage that both captures the fury of hardcore and maintains a catchy punk sensibility. They’d managed to mix together the violent wrath of Converge, the catchiness of Poison Idea, and the songwriting props of Nasum with their own individual flair into a single, wonderful package. Naturally I was delighted to hear they had released their second LP, La Fin Absolue Du Monde, earlier this year, and boy did it live up to expectations.
“Close My Eyes” is quite the opener, instantly demonstrating Enabler’s ability to blend catchiness and aggression to perfection. It’s not the sort of youthful, exuberant anger you get with a lot of punk, either; Enabler’s world is dark and desperate. They’re not here with a positive message of rebellion, encouraging you to fight the system – they’re here to tell you exactly how fucked the world is and how little we can do about it. “New Life” and “Neglect” up the grind content without sacrificing the memorable riffs, before “I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This” gives us one of the best scream-along moments at its climax with the frantic refrain “no future, no fate, there’s nothing but the lies we make.”
“Balance of Terror” offers a brief moment of respite from the onslaught with its slower pace, but is followed by some of the heaviest music on the album in the form of three sub-two-minute songs all designed to grind your face off with increasing violence. We’re then treated to a re-recording of the best track from the Flies EP, “Sickened by the Wake.” It’s another slower song with a hint of groove, and perhaps the catchiest on the record, yet miraculously it manages to impart as much condensed anger as any of the preceding tracks. There’s no justice in the world if this song doesn’t become an extreme metal anthem, it really is that good. Amazingly, Enabler manage to follow up this masterpiece with two equally exciting offerings. “Rain Darkness” ups the pace, building to a wonderful climax, while “Felony” showcases the band’s ability to write brooding epics as well as hardcore anthems and short grind shocks. My only, very minor complaint about the songwriting is that the final two tracks, while both excellent, don’t quite stand up after the preceding trio. Otherwise the songwriting is flawless. Fourteen songs in thirty-six minutes: take note, incorrigible song-padders.
It’s not just good news on the music front: the production brings out all the aggression in the performances while allowing the nuances to shine through. The guitars sound huge and filthy, while retaining clarity. The bass is full and fat, drums punchy, and vocals performed with exceptional spite. Of course the whole thing is very dense and compressed, but all of the emotion is preserved and the relative brevity means aural fatigue isn’t really an issue.
I urge you all to go and listen to this record right now, even if you’re not usually into hard/metalcore (it’s on Bandcamp and Spotify so there’s no excuse not to). Ultimately it’s the album I’ve returned to the most this year, and it will take a slew of utterly outrageous December releases to knock it out of my top ten of 2014. I have been enabled!
Tracks to check: all of them. But if you insist on specifics, go for “Close My Eyes,” “I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This,” “Sickened By the Wake,” “Rain Darkness” and “Linear Existence”