12 May 2021 - Pat O'
Ambient/Post-black | Release date: 24 Apr 2021
Ennoven’s latest album Empty Passes, Silent Trails carries you through mountain passes and deep meandering forests, with his unique blend of ambient and “atmospheric post black metal”
Atmospheric music can often be built around the seasons while using the landscape as the canvas to lay its foundations. Poland’s Ennoven have taken winters finery and created Empty Passes, Silent Trails. So, with that in mind picture a cold and dark evening, and you’re crashed out on your couch looking out through the frost-marbled window as the dusk rolls in. Picture it like a scene from an old movie as you look across open rugged landscapes, all grey, murky and capped in sleet and frost. Everything is all very bleak and unfriendly. It’s perfect. You heard me correctly! There are moments when miserable evenings like this can be as comforting and warming as a blissful, sunny day. Some say that misery loves company, well then Ennoven could very well be your soul mate. This music is made for moments like this. It’s cool, composed and steeped in dark romanticism. The ambience and atmosphere are heavy and dense. Empty Passes, Silent Trails takes you through forests, swamps and solemn mountain trails in frosty, desolate conditions. There is no rush when it comes to listening to this album, just open the mind and take in the imagery that it creates as each track cleverly creeps its way from one creation into the next.
So, into the mist we go with No Warmth which is a slow and patient opener. Nothing is hurried as you’ll find out as the album moves along without haste. The music builds with casual guitars tones and the unearthly blend of two slumbering voices, both haunting and hypnotic. Further along as the track continues to grow, a gravelled vocal rises from the marsh, giving everything a more doomy and ominous feeling. The guitars get louder and more prominent and chug through the chords with might as the cymbals reverberate in sequence. I would describe the sound here as “ambient black post metal”. It’s all about layers and textures with this album, even the vocals become another instrument. I’ve said many times already that I’m a sucker for strings in my music so the gentle weep of violins at this point is perfect. They continue to play alongside some sparse guitars, and without any fuss, quietly put the track to rest. That may all sound a little boring on paper but trust me, there is a melody and atmosphere that will have you intrigued and ultimately, your undivided attention.
Dwellers of Mist carries that faint torch of hope for the next thirteen minutes as you continue to trudge through the freezing fog and hardened landscape. Some pondering guitars and a dark murmuring bass take up residence amidst the cold. When the track does elevate itself, drums take precedence for the first time in the album. A slow gallop is confronted by a distressed and harsh vocal that pierces without ever being too aggressive. It’s all beautifully dark and inviting. The music becomes dreamy (or nightmarish) and hypnotic, only momentarily allowing shards of light in, to give the music more depth and warmth. The track drifts through the fog with more of those throaty vocals, that really fit the tone of the music. A barrage of guitars, drums and melancholia flood the landscape before being sympathetically serenaded into the next track.
Throughout this album I’m reminded of one of my favourite “post” bands A Swarm of The Sun. Their album The Woods hit every note when it came to creating mood and trepidation. Ennoven are of a very similar ilk, and if that’s the musical style you crave then I’m sure you will adore this album. While I speak of comparisons, A reign of the night is a synth and vocal interlude that is again, brooding and dark. For me the female vocal samples keep reminding me of Sinead O Connor. She has one of the finest haunting female vocals of her generation, so if Ennoven’s sound can summon a vocal that can mimic this, then that’s a good thing.
The final track here is the title track Empty Passes, Silent Trails and at over nineteen minutes long it’s a case of “you need to hear it to appreciate it”. From the outset, the violins play a hypnotic hook that you find yourself humming and remembering for a while. It’s cleverly constructed, with patient and emotive build ups, and some more gorgeous harmonized vocals that soar and take flight. It’s a long track but never boring. The steady and measured pace is done to perfection. The final five minutes of the track are the most uplifting sections of the whole album, with another simple but clever hook and riff that gets heavier with every passing second. It reaches fever pitch with a rasping vocal assault bringing tension and fear to a climatic high, before some soft guitars bring the album to a fitting conclusion.
A picture can paint a thousand words, so looking at the artwork of the album should give you an idea of what is coming your way. But don’t fear it. Embrace it, take time over it and bask in its mysterious and melancholic beauty. Empty Passes, Silent Trails is yet another great release in a hugely atmospheric and emotive 2021.