Enisum – Forgotten Mountains Review

Say what you will about atmospheric black metal, its popularity is not undue. It was the gentle stream in which I was baptized before giving myself to the rapids, the whispers in the breeze that signaled the storm, and the view of the frigid mountain crest before the cruel ascent. I ventured into unclaimed mysterious wilderness with the likes of Wolves in the Throne Room, Imperium Dekadenz, and October Falls, leading me the cliffs for the view before greeting my plummeting death to the forest floor, laid to rest in the dark soil littered with pine needles. Enisum speaks like the wind in the trees.

Forgotten Mountains is the latest in a series of solid albums from the trio, the act an ode to the Alps that grace the northern hinterlands of Enisum’s home of Italy. Enisum’s impressive catalog includes the 2015 crown jewel Arpitanian Lands, a quietly underrated atmospheric black metal classic, itself a perfection of predecessor Samoht Nara. Seeing competent but tamer waters with 2019’s Moth’s Illusion in a continuation of the previously established sound rather than venturing forth to unclaimed territory, the first album in four years is another solid outing in Enisum’s solid catalog, even if it continues the trend.

While undeniably folky but in ways that recalls October FallsA Collapse of Faith, Enisum focuses on chord progressions to create a grey world of snow and forest. While certainly warmer than counterparts Paysage d’Hiver and ColdWorld, Forgotten Mountains dwells more on the forest floor in view of the majestic peaks, not unlike Germany’s Old Growth. Tracks revolve around cold but inviting chord progressions interspersed with atmospheric synth and plucking passages, with tracks like “Nothing” and “Where You Live Again” striking a great balance between heart and iciness. If all this sounds familiar, you’re absolutely right: recent offerings from acts like Woods of Desolation or Grima play by the same rules. Enisum make no pretense about challenging the way you think about nature-inspired atmoblack, but they’re out to make it sound as evocative as possible. In spite of the same old tricks bleeding across the tracks, Forgotten Mountains makes good use of drummer Dead Soul and bassist Leynir, providing complicated and tasteful respective fills and noodles during more contemplative passages. The rhythm section carries the moments of lull and ensures that each moment is capitalized upon, especially in slower or less expansive tracks like the title track and “Night Forest.”

While “Where You Live Again” establishes the mood with the typical atmoblack template to come, the back-half of Forgotten Mountains finds a bit more experimentation. Vocalist/guitarist Lys graces “Nothing” and “Galaverna” with solemn cleans, tortured bellows, and guitar chugs, casting the tracks into haunting darkness, while the majestic buildups in “Pure Sadness” and the hypnotic melodies of “The Wind Smells of You” are an evocative and beautiful two-part conclusion, if not a bit anticlimactic. While in need of honing, this album-long crescendo of experimentation offers a nice destination to Enisum’s world-building. While the guitar tone here is quite a bit cleaner than the snowy fuzz of Arpitanian Lands or the raw sting of Samoht Nara, and there are some tracks that stand out more than others, the act accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do: create evocative ambient black metal. Nothing more and nothing less. This leaves Forgotten Mountains in a bit of a limbo: while it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do with dynamic songwriting and an even mix that allows all its assets to shine, it is easy to lose Enisum in the atmoblack mire and the shadow of their own accomplishments.

I will gladly place Enisum on this side of good, as it brings me back to the Hollow-approved atmoblack classics of yesteryear. However, Forgotten Mountains focuses more on “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” with relatively forgettable mountains tunes. I can feel the forest breathe, the wind across my face, and behold the peaks that loom above me, so this album feels torturous and haunting – but everything about this mountain pass feels too familiar. Traversing a path well-trodden, Enisum does so with grace and patience, bolstered by an impressive rhythm section, formidable vocalist, and a crescendo of tasteful experimentation, but whether that’s enough to travel again and again is up to you.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Avantgarde Music
Websites: enisum.eu | facebook.com/enisum
Releases Worldwide: February 17th, 2023

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