In Case You Missed It Series – Episode 4
Grisaille – CD // DD
Blackseed Records – Released June 2, 2016
Reviewed by Andy “Dinger” Beresky
I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the Akron, Ohio band Mockingbird. I’m fairly familiar with them, as I was privileged enough to be able to share the stage with them on multiple occasions. Their sound was a progressive and melodic take on sludge/doom metal, in the vein of early Mastodon and Baroness, yet there was something so PURE about them. They were completely removed from any of the mainstream trappings that the aforementioned bands eventually came to embrace.
I don’t typically like to define artists in terms of their former bands or other projects. All the same, it’s hard to talk about High On Fire or Om if we don’t also talk about Sleep, isn’t it?? Drummer Chad Beverlin from Enhailer also plays with the criminally underrated Mockingbird, and there are enough similarities in their sound that it’s worth bringing them into the conversation.
Enhailer have a slightly goofy name, which is both endearing and problematic for me personally. I like the name, though I know how using puny names can sometimes come with a stigma or turn people off unnecessarily. Yes, I play in a band called Palace In Thunderland. People tend to either love it or hate it. It’s goofy, and funny, and fun….we hope. That’s really up to you, not us. It’s also meant to be a bit artsy, and that’s the same vibe I get from Enhailer. They’re instrumental, so we know that they’re artsy. However, this is not the more stripped down minimalism incorporated by fellow instrumentalists Karma To Burn, nor is it the hip neo-melodicism of Pelican. This is something far darker and dirtier, like if we truly pushed Mogwai into the depths of despair that they’ve always mildly flirted with.
There’s nothing demure about Enhailer. They encompass everything that I love about the American Midwest. If you’ve never been, I’d highly suggest that you spend some time there.
While Mockingbird tended to write more songs with a more traditional vocal-driven structure, the lack of vocals allows Enhailer to work more with a classical, theme and variation motif. The six songs tend to build, evolve, and intensify organically, which is what prompts me to compare them to Mogwai. The major difference is in the atmosphere itself, which is bleak, heavy and haunting, due largely in part to the guest keyboards, which loom and pulse in the background. Technically Enhailer are a trio, though it’s hard to talk about this album without bringing in the keyboards, as they truly add a nice touch. It’s also worth noting that their seem to be some form of growls in the background of a couple songs, though I think this is just for effect, and to add to the atmosphere. I don’t think there are any discernible lyrics.
I really dig the production, which manages to sound both full and never excessive. The songs themselves usually lurk at a comfortable, mid-paced tempo, and combine quieter, more introspective sections with full on dirgy doom riffs. It’s a nice blend with a unique take that firmly separates them from the rest of the post-metal pack. I get the feeling that this is really just a sampling of what Enhailer have to offer. These six songs clock in at just over 30 minutes. I’m thinking that they’ve got a lot more to say, in their typical manner of not speaking or singing a single word.