[12 August 2010]
At some point a post-rock explosion occurred in the music world, sending a glut of experimental bands into the atmosphere like a sonic version of Mt. St. Helens. What this means is that 1) there is no shortage of options for the picky post-rock fan, and 2) any band that wishes to transcend nameless mediocrity needs to do something really different to capture an audience. Enter Gifts from Enola. Hailing from Virginia, and only one year removed from the acclaimed From Fathoms, the band brings us its self-titled third album, a collection of five tracks that explores the soft-to-loud-and-back-again sound that this brand of instrumentalism embodies.
Gifts from Enola, unlike label mates Caspian, opt for a meatier sound more akin to that of Pelican or even ISIS, using the menacing bombast of drums and an alternation of guitar work to pummel the point into the listener between reprieves. Opening track “Lionized” exemplifies this style of arrangement, though it closes oddly with a spaced-out sample of music from the ‘30s or ‘40s. “Dime and Suture” progresses in similar fashion, but with the addition of nearly inaudible, ambiguous lyrics. “Alagoas” is more pensive in its approach before it launchws into some really energetic riffs, and the disjointed voices of “Grime and Glass” produce a haunting effect. Closer “Rearview” lets the bass shine through, almost to the point of overpowering the song, and it achieves a sense of paranoia, escape, and, ultimately, safety. The creation of a mood, a means of relief that invariably involves some kind of outburst, and catharsis; these are the things that define this weighty self-titled album. Less introspective than Laura, and more overtly (and angrily) emotive than Explosions in the Sky, Gifts from Enola shows us the heavier side of post-rock while reminding us to stop, inhale, and release.