Best to say it straight, right? OK then: This is the best album I’ve had to review in quite some time. Enisum might have their name backwards, but apart from that, it appears, they are doing everything right.
Enisum are named after Monte Musinè (a mountain in the western part of the Alps lying close to the band’s hometown of Turin, Italy) and play “lore-infused atmospheric black metal” (press blurb). What started out as a one-man project, is now a full-grown band. Moth’s Illusion, the album at hand, is Enisum’s fourth long player since the shift to full band. It features the usual black metal ingredients, but while you can hear lots of fantastic double-kick drumming, distorted guitars, shrieky and growly vocals, you can also hear folky tunes, acoustic guitars and clean singing.
The album’s themes and lyrics show a closeness to and love for the band’s native landscapes and landmarks, as well as love for nature in general. In addition, seeping through all of this, there is a feeling of awe and puzzlement for some of nature’s principles. Everything is accompanied by misanthropy and melancholy.
Only a couple of weeks ago, I’ve written about moths and why they are interesting, important and baffling animals. And now, here is another band drawing inspiration from moths’ unexplained, but deadly attraction to light, and the fact that you can take smaller systems and explain the workings of bigger ones. The album’s beautiful cover art features a drawing of a wolf, a deer and a death’s head hawkmoth. The wolf and the deer look like plants, or the exposed roots of a tree, the deer’s antler like the branches of a tree. In the middle of the composition is the moth, and both wolf and deer have turned their heads towards it. Insects might be the smallest animals, but they are of great importance to our ecosystem. Their decline will be followed by the decline of other animals and plants, because everything in nature is connected.
All of the album’s twelve songs, adding up to over an hour of playtime, are a joy to listen to. That might sound ironic, since we are talking about black metal here, but I really mean it. The beauty of the album lies partly in the fact that you don’t get twelve times other versions of basically the same. Moth’s Illusion is a very diverse album, and while I’m not going to comment on every track, there are some I would like to point out to you.
The album starts with an experimental intro titled Cotard. “Cotard” is the name of a rare mental illness, where the person suffering from it believes him or herself to be already dead. You hear sounds being played backwards, which fits together nicely with the band’s name and the Cotard delusion. Cotard is follow by Anesthetised Emotions introducing you to what I would call the band’s basic sound. It ranges from minimalistic to multi-layered and rich, sometimes with a shoegazey character, filled with melancholia and longing, but accompanied by mean, growly or shrieky vocals and outbursts of deafening double-kick or blast beat drumming.
Afframont, named after a lake near Turin, is the first of the album’s many highlights. Being the track that is closest to the black metal end of things, it begins with merciless drumming and epic guitar riffs, joined quickly by a growl that will make your blood freeze. As if to form a contrast, next is Moth’s Illusion, the title track and another highlight, but with a completely different soundscape, at least in the beginning. It still has the above-mentioned basic ingredients, however, this time they are paired with clean and somewhat hoarse singing.
Ballad of Musine has a folk character, with an acoustic guitar and again clean vocals. Petrichor, named after the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather, represents yet another shift in sound, reminding me a bit of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain.
The album closes with Burned Valley, a song about burnings in the Susa Valley caused by unknown pyromaniacs. This time, beautiful, dreamy female vocals add yet another touch to the folky atmosphere.
I like albums where everything fits together and this is one of those. It is evident that the band has invested a lot of time and thought into creating it, paying attention to every little detail. Origin, music, artwork and lyrical themes form a consistent whole, and the end product is as satisfying as a mathematical equation. Beautiful.