‘Fail To Feel Safe’, the new effort from Ohio based hardcore/metal act Enabler is released through Century Media on August 7th. Written and performed entirely by front man Jeff Lohrber; the album is a succinct display of top quality musicianship and cohesion normally attributed to a group of hardcore veterans. The absolute abundance of talent and skill on display over 42 infectious minutes is an incredible feat for one man and quite frankly an insult to musicians everywhere.
Almost as impressive is the prolific rate of releases; this is the fourth Enabler full-length since 2010, as well as four EP’s and over 360 shows. That’s a level of output to rival any artist in any genre currently touring today and I haven’t mentioned the numerous splits and compilation releases. The result of this somewhat obsessive creativity is an awe inspiring amalgamation of hardcore, thrash and death metal, peppered with concise moments of melodic metal.
‘Fail To Feel Safe’ is like a cruel mix of Mastodon, Sepultura, Earth Crisis and Biohazard. Utterly savage in parts, but dominated by an up-tempo 2-step bounce throughout. Listening through for the first time evokes memories of a ton of different bands, but I don’t get the feeling anyone’s being ripped off. It seems Lohrber is well aware of every reference and has managed to combine them to create something unique and purposeful. Even the melodic choruses, which can so easily sound weak or cliché, work perfectly well within the context of the album.
Each song has evidently been crafted for maximum effect both individually and for the album as a whole. Tracks like soon-to-be pit favourite ‘Haunted’, encapsulate everything there is to love about hardcore for one short moment, and before you even know its over, the next riff circles in. This sharply focused sound is likely the result of total control, and Lohrber’s ability to fully express ideas without confusion from outside input. I don’t know if his song-writing process involves other people, but the music very clearly reflects something intentional and well formed.
Thematically ‘Fail To Feel Safe’ is darkly serious. Song titles like ‘Suffer To Survive’, ‘Isolation Sickness’ and ‘Sabotage Within’ hint at a bleak introspection, well punctuated by remorseless, sludging guitars; especially evident in the latter, which features a monstrous breakdown to close the record. ‘Fail To Feel Safe’ is ultimately fulfilling because of Enabler’s no bullshit approach; unquestionably honest, downcast and straight to the point.
Stand out track ‘Sinister Drifter’ bursts with intricate hammer-off guitar runs reminiscent of Converge’s ‘Axe To Fall’, interchanging effortlessly with razor sharp hardcore thrash riffs and immense double pedal. Such is the complexity of sound; the fact that Enabler performs as a three-piece live is inconceivable. The guitars are so heavy at times; surely another person is required to fulfil that reality in a live setting, I thought as I scrolled through their show listings only to discover I missed their London show last May. Now that’s brutal.
For me, ‘Fail To Feel Safe’ is one of the top 3 hardcore releases so far this year, the few parts I don’t really like are inconsequential in the context of an utterly convincing, punishing experience. This is one of those albums I didn’t know I was waiting for and it’s honestly made me excited about hardcore again.
(9/10 Kane Power)