Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Awesome Bands You Should Know... EHNAHRE

EHNAHRE is an avant garde, death/doom band from Boston, Massachusetts. The band was formed in 2006, although an earlier version of the band existed in the late 90's when 3 of the original members were in high school. This early version of the band was called Negative Reasoning, which was gleaned from the Eyehategod song "Non Conductive Negative Reasoning", & at that time the band was often refered to by it's initials NR. Negative Reasoning sounded nothing like how Ehnahre would come to sound, as this early incarnation evolved through a variety of styles including hardcore, grind, metalcore, & sludge before calling it quits around 2000. The core of Ehnahre is Ryan Mcguire and John Carchia. Aside from playing in Negative Reaction, they would both join Kayo Dot in '03 and then leave Kayo Dot in 2006 to form Ehnahre. When deciding upon this new band name, they decided to have it be a slight nod to their past together, choosing the initials of Negative Reasoning, "NR", but spelling it out phonetically. That is the origin of the band name and also indicates its proper pronunciation. The band quickly set about making interesting, progressive music that was both experimental but extremely heavy. In 2008, Ehnahre would release their debut full length, "The Man Closing Up", through Sound Devastation Records. Ehnahre - The Man Closing Up
The album is just shy of 45 minutes in length and is divided into 5 tracks, simply titled Part I - V. The tracks basically bleed into one another so the record is really best looked at as one piece. The precedent of using/adapting existing lyrical content would begin here. So far all of Ehnahre's albums have used the written works of different poets or writers for their lyrics. "The Man Closing Up" takes its words from the work of Donald Justice. The music is a brutal assault combining elements of violent death metal with sludge and doom, as well as jazz, ambient, noise, and other genres. The album often seems improvised and comes off as though everything could fall apart at any moment. The artwork is stark, black & white photos of a shoreline and surrounding area. Its bleak, desolate & haunting. The audio captures these themes as well, while also adding violent bludgeonings. Ehnahre's music is often atonal and dissonant, with much of what they do being based on music theory. They are heavily influenced by the 12 tone serialism of composer Arnold Schoenberg . All of this adds up to make them a very unique sounding band. On this album the band was Ryan Mcguire (bass, double bass, voice, & percussion), John Carchia (guitar, voice), DJ Murray (guitar, voice, keyboard), Tom Malone (drums, guitar), & Andrew Hock (guitar). Mcguire, Carchia, Murray, & Malone were all formerly in Kayo Dot, while Hock had been in Castavet and Biolich. The album also features some other guest and session musicians many of which were also in other bands like Kayo Dot, Maudlin of the Well, Baliset, etc. The additional instruments included trumpet & violin among others. Following this album, Ehnahre released a cassette titled "Pipeline"  in 2009, which was a live recording of Parts II, III, & V from "The Man Closing Up". It was initially self released by the band on cassette, with only 50 copies being made. It was re-released shortly after this by Semata Productions, again on tape only, in the amount of 175 copies, but with different artwork. The band's next release would be the vinyl only EP, "Alpha/Omega" in 2010. It was released by Fun With Asbestos on 12" Vinyl and limited to 100 copies. It featured 2 new songs, "Leda & The Swan" and "The Second Coming", both of which featured lyrics culled from the work of William Yeats. That same year, 2010, saw the release of Ehnahre's 2nd full length album, "Taming The Cannibals", through Crucial Blast. Ehnahre - Taming the CannibalsThe album clocks in at about 35 minutes and has 6 individual songs with distinct titles. Also, unlike their debut LP, the songs on here are self contained and do not run into one another, although they do share similar themes and moods. The album is cohesive but the tracks are work as stand alone pieces. While still extremely heavy at times with definite death metal and grind influences still present, the album seems more spacious in a way and even more experimental and progressive. Its horrific, ugly, violent music that twists and contorts. At times dragging along, crawling and scraping its way through primordial sludge, but then can shift in an instant to blast beaten, flesh flaying brutality.  Again the lyrics come from poetry, this time a variety of authors, including F.R. Higgins, Georg Trakl, Walt Whitman, & Robin Jeffers. The line up by this point was narrowed down to a 3 piece, McGuire (bass, voice, keys), Carchia (guitar, voice), & Ricardo Donoso (drums, electronics, voice). Again they used some guests in the studio, this time it was Greg Kelley on trumpet, Jonah Jenkins of Raw Radar War & formerly of Only Living Witness, on a guest vocal spot, & C. Spencer Yeh on violin. Ehnahre would shortly begin working on the follow up to this album as only 2 years later it would be delivered unto unsuspecting music fans. This 3rd album is titled "Old Earth" and it would be released in September of 2012, again through Crucial Blast, following a number of delays.
 Ehnahre - Old Earth
"Old Earth" is just over 37 minutes, split across 4 tracks. Similar to "The Man Closing Up", the album is essentially one piece of music as the tracks are not individually titled, they blend into each other and the insert inside the case has one set of lyrics simply titled "Old Earth". This time the lyrics are adapted from a piece by Samuel Beckett. The artwork is all earthly images, dirt, roots, stone, etc all natural and untouched by man. Musically this album is a continuation of the growth the band has shown across all of their work. Its simultaneously primal and progressive. There are moments of utter beauty juxtaposed with moments of brutish ugliness. The band is still heavier and more crushing than 90% of the bands around, but it seems as though they are continuing to push more and more into experimenta and avant garde areas through noise, ambient, jazz, etc, but they do so without every going to far and losing their rough edges. The line up for "Old Earth" remained the same as "Taming the Cannibals" other than the 2 guest spots, which were both Greg Kelley and Forbes Graham (also ex- Kayo Dot) on trumpets. This album is one of the highlights of extreme music in 2012, and will no doubt rank high on my best of 2012, year end list. Ive previously written about it as an Album of the Day on Facebook and its deserving of so much more praise. Ehnahre has become one of my favorite newer bands that Ive come across in some time. They truly sound unique in a time when so many bands are just regurgitating the same things over and over. I cant hype this band enough nor can I recommend them to enough people, but at the same time I understand that this music is not for everyone. Even within the realms of heavy music & extreme metal, Ehnahre are very much against the grain and inaccessible, so while I would love for everyone who reads this to run out and buy everything Ehnahre's released because I feel they deserve it and I feel this is important music as far as the evolution of music goes, you should probably listen to some songs online and get an idea of what they actually sound like before you buy the records, otherwise you may get more than you bargained for.
Andy Sweitzer

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