Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Album Review: Gifts From Enola - A Healthy Fear

Album Rating: B+
The Mylene Sheath knows exactly what they're doing when they sign bands. They look for eclectic, interesting artists that could strike it big in their genre - and it turns out that they usually do, thanks to masterful production and promotion, as well as incredible musical talent from the artists themselves. Gifts From Enola is certainly no exception, having been on the label for over 3 years, and now having released 3 albums with Mylene. The newest record is something of a shift for the band, but looking at their history, it seems as though their sound isn't ever truly solidified, and they always look to improve or change their music in a way that their listeners don't expect. A Healthy Fear brings a degree of dissonance and tonal experimentation that works in an inspiring way that sets Gifts From Enola apart from the rest of the world of music.

A Healthy Fear is very much about creating riffs and chords that don't entirely stand on their own. The overall picture of the song is vastly more important than one chord that doesn't fit quite right, and it's the biggest way that the band expresses themselves musically. "Long Weakened" is an archetype of what one can expect on the most recent release from the band; it's a lengthy work that involves extensively layered riffing in the beginning, math-rock styled rhythms and vamping in choruses, heavy atonality in melodies throughout, and it comes to a beautifully powerful outro that combines each of these aspects into two full minutes of jamming that really come to mean something through the evolution of the song. It takes on so many good things from a variety of genres, and comes up with an immense piece of work, similar to many but identical to none.

There are things that I wasn't a fan of; mainly, consistency. A Healthy Fear brings a new taste of Gifts From Enola, but it's really hard to place exactly WHO they are, because it shifts from album to album, and almost even song to song. "Steady Diet" uses many of the same techniques as "Long Weakened," but combines them in an entirely different way, gratifying the listener with melodic choruses in between, versus almost unmelodic melodies that eventually form into something moving once the climactic point of the song has been reached. Each track feels fucking excellent as a standalone, it's just difficult to imagine the entire set being compiled into an album, yet that's what is being presented to us. There isn't enough connection in-between to feel like an incredibly solid release.

If you were a Gifts From Enola fan prior to this release, it's worth a listen, because you know exactly how they can shift their musical focus, and you might discover something you love even more about this album than "Resurface" off of From Fathoms or "Grime and Glass" from the self-titled. If you're looking to get into the band and haven't heard anything before, it's worth a listen, because you know essentially nothing about how they can shift their musical focus, and you've not experienced anything this harmoniously original. Any way you look at it, you ought to take a listen, because like I said before, although there might not be an overarching message to the release, each and every song is something all its own, and tells a much different story than the one before. Plus, who knows what Gifts From Enola could come up with next; this album doesn't so much as mark a solidifying point for their music-making as a milestone on their journey, and the next endeavor could be even more exciting and mysterious.

Once the record is released, you should be able to listen to the whole thing on their Bandcamp.

Track Listing:
1) Long Weakened
2) Robespierre
3) Cherry
4) Honne/Tatamae
5) The Benefits Of Failure
6) Jade
7) Steady Diet
8) Clawmarks

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