En Minor – When the Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out Review

Were I to begin giving the weeks of my life names like some sort of week-naming goon, “When the Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out” would be a top-level contender for this past week. As a title, it’s perfect; overly lengthy, blunt, and definitely different. In a slight deviation from the metallic usual, the American group En Minor, headed by one Philip Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals), has let loose their debut album, When the Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out, to unsuspecting masses. Given my earlier week-naming sentiments, this probably should be a match made by destiny – but is it?

If you can picture a dilapidated bar in the stereotypical American “wild west,” with a tall guy in a trench coat surveying the anonymous dead body on the floor, you’ve already got a fair idea of what En Minor is going for with this debut. Dark, folky tunes merge with grim Americana and depressive rock in a slightly unsettling and fairly melodic take on the country-adjacent style. If you enjoyed Henry Derek Elis’s The Devil is My Friend, or wish that Johnny Cash had spent more time singing about bleakness, death, and dismay, then En Minor is probably right up your alley. This album is dark, hooky, and maintains its creeping atmosphere consistently from beginning to end. Acoustic guitars accompany Anselmo’s baritone singing, with sobering lyrics and rusted melodies. This is an incredibly promising foundation upon which to build a memorable album, and When the Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out sees En Minor capitalize on the winning formula.

The front half of the album is what shines the brightest. “Mausoleums” is a stunning opening track, building on a repetitive melody that accents Anselmo’s singing and lingers in the mind. “On the Floor” fully realizes the “twisted country” style En Minor reach for, while “Love Needs Love” turns up the melancholy in a strangely moving way. Throughout, the cello and keys (Steve Bernal and Calvin Dover respectively) lend the music a sense of gritty elegance, while Anselmo’s layered vocals give each song a rough edge that hints at dangers to come. The mixing on the album emphasizes acoustic and lightly-distorted electric guitars as the main drivers of this music, drifting at times into the depressive rock category. When the Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out is a fluid album, but takes comfort in its bleak atmosphere and rough foundations.

The second half of the album, on the other hand, sees the cold truth wearing its miserable welcome out a little bit. Not that any of it is bad by any stretch, but after “Warm Sharp Bath Sleep”1 the songs begin to blur together a bit. There are glimmers of memorability, in “This is Not Your Day” and in the concluding melancholy of “Disposable for You,” but for the most part, songs like “Black Mass” and “Hats Off” don’t make much of an impression. Fortunately, En Minor still have that base atmosphere to fall back on when things don’t quite stick, and the album remains enjoyable throughout. This is in part thanks to its production and especially in the mix, which does a wonderful job of giving every instrument space to breathe and thrive. Tiny details vie for the listener’s attention, and the whole is remarkably well-constructed, even when the songs themselves aren’t necessarily terrific.

When the Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out does not, despite the earlier joke that I couldn’t stop myself from typing, fully wear out its miserable welcome. It remains an enjoyable slice of dark Americana goodness from beginning to end. En Minor demonstrates a strong affinity for a sound that is largely their own, and have a solid debut to show for it. This is my new soundtrack for When Things Go Wrong™, and I’m excited to hear about when things go wrong next.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: enminor.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/enminorofficial
Releases Worldwide: September 4th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Really wish I had the lyrics for this one; even in the context of the song itself, I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.
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