One-man metal projects tend to be rather hit or miss for me, and more miss than hit. It makes sense that a lot of the music that is created in this way tends to be black metal, a genre that, for no uncertain reasons, tends to attract a lot of introverts and oddballs, people who you’d think would be the most likely to be up to the task. You have to admire the willpower that goes into creating something that involved by yourself and with minimal outside help, but the venture requires one to have a remarkable amount of discipline and self-awareness as well as musical skill to keep from re-treading ideas and creating something overly self-indulgent. Most one man metal projects lack this, and thus the music is often subpar. Minnesota’s Eneferens, however, doesn’t.
Eneferens is black metal in the same way that a band like Alcest is black metal – I guess, technically, but not really – or at least not anymore. Like Alcest, Eneferens uses black metal as an anchor to ground their sound, a point around which they can explore other introspective, melancholic styles – doom, folk, gaze, etc. In addition to Alcest’s otherworldly blackgaze style whose influence can be heard throughout album, I hear hints of Pallbearer’s epic doom style (mostly in the guitar harmonies in tracks like Weight of the Mind’s Periapt and album closer Selene), Opeth and Agalloch in the albums folkier moments (also Selene) and elements of post-metal in the overall approach. It’s a pastiche of these and other sounds that have worked awesomely for other bands playing similar styles but synthesised through the lens of black metal and main man Jori Apedaileman’s superb songwriting. It has all the strengths of the more ethereal ends of black metal and modern prog but transmuted into these concise collages of sounds that are equal parts flowing, earthy and melodic. And boy, does it go down easy.
I don’t think I’ve found a black metal album so easily listenable and immediately likeable since Ashbringer’s ‘Yugen’ back in 2016. But where that album had an amateurish charm and a “see-what-sticks” mentality to its approach that I found incredibly endearing, The Bleakness of Our Constant is more mature and balanced, coming off as very deliberately composed. The 7 track, 43 minute album is as close to perfectly constructed as you can get, from the 3 minute instrumental opener to the 3 minute ambient track that precludes the 8 and a half minute closer. It veers expertly from blast beats to doomgaze, from rumbling growls to Akerfeldt/Renkse-esque vocal harmonies, all without sounding like it’s trying too hard or venturing too far from the core sound. There’s no fat here, it’s all completely lean, and you can easily listen to the album end to end without feeling at all fatigued – in fact, if you’re anything like me, you might be tempted to go back and listen to it again.
And in addition to all that, there’s just something about this. Like Ashbringer’s ‘Yugen,’ like Opeth’s ‘Still Life,’ like any given Iron Maiden album, there’s just something magical about it, something that I feel but find very hard to put into words. It already feels like a classic, like something magical that could only have been accomplished by one person, at one time, in one place.
I don’t know. It’s just a great album.
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EU: Nordvis Produktions | NA: Bindrune Recording