The Man Closing Up
posted on 9/2008 By:
With former and current members of Kayo Dot, Rawradarwar and Biolich in its ranks, Ehnahre peddle a brand of crawling vile funeral-paced sludge filtered through clamorous crashing discordant avant-garde adjective-laden noise. The Man Closing Up has highbrow aspirations, apparently composed in Schoenberg’s serial method and lyrically based upon the poetry of some dude I’m not familiar with. All in all, it's more abrasive than it is rewarding, which is a bummer because, on paper, that mix sounds like something I'd likely enjoy or at least appreciate, even knowing up front that it’s highly likely I wouldn’t quite understand it. Sadly, the disparate elements and the avant-garde approach seem to distract from one another—or simply just confuse the matter—rather than adding up to the full destructive potential you'd imagine.
No matter what, The Man Closing Up is ugly—that much is undeniable. The record consists of five tracks--cleverly titled "Part I" through "Part V." "Part I" opens with a sequence of crawling guitars and growled vocals, slower than slow and seemingly devoid of structure, before kicking in with a grating death/grind riff and an abrupt shift into a fast-paced section. In those moments, those brief flirtations with Nola sludge meets grindcore filth, Ehnahre succeeds, but each instance is fleeting and then it’s back into the tarpits of hell, with rumbling atonal guitar moments that aren’t riffs at all, just noisy string bends and demonic cacophony and vocals that spew up from the depths in agonized grunts. "Part II" devolves into feedback-drenched clean-vocal ambient weirdness, and the fifteen-minute running time of "Part IV" is mostly one chord progression played interminably slow and with long pauses of silence between repetitions—so long in a few instances that I thought perhaps my CD player had given out on me. (Yeah, ha ha, Ehnahre, you got me.) By the time that "Part IV" kicks in (at about the 8:00 mark), ripping into another blasting drum part and some noise-rock guitar licks with death metal vocals, I’d all but given up on it. After two minutes of hellacious banging, it retreats into silence and droning ambience again, before finally petering out two more minutes later…
Again, funeral doom and noise are things I’d ordinarily appreciate, and I’m all for pushing the boundaries of composition, but there’s just too much free-form snail’s-paced emptiness and not enough visceral substance to make a lasting impression beyond, "Yeah, this shit is kinda cool, I guess, but mostly, it’s just hard as hell to listen to because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere." Only two moments truly work: the beginning of "Part III" with its death metal introductory motif (with some black metal dissonant squawking atop that) before the whole thing slows to a funeral drone, and then again in "Part V," with its Toadliquor-like sludge intro that kicks into a grimy grind. Even with the abrupt downshift at the midway point, "Part III" holds together and manages to kick where most everything else confounds or simply irritates, and "Part V" is just killer noxious grinding sludge done well enough to suit me.
Kayo Dot is one of those "outside the box" genre-bending bands, but I find them at least respectable in their oddity if not particularly awesome. What I’ve heard of Biolich was neither good nor bad, and heavily indebted to Demilich, yet another off-kilter boundary-pushing group. Somewhere between the former’s bizarre ethos and the latter’s second-hand twisted aesthetic lies this one, floating in its own personal world of largely unresolved ambient noise sludge grind death doom. More than anything, this reminds me of something like Khlyst, whose record I purchased and liked upon initial listen and then could never be bothered to listen to much beyond that. There’s hope for Ehnahre, but most of The Man Closing Up doesn’t add up to much more than a creeping grating listening experience, somewhat clinically interesting upon first exposure but likely too disjointed for repetition.
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