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2. Dime and Suture
4. Grime and Glass
Reviewed by: Joshua
// Published: 9/22/2010
When you see a five song CD clocking in at over 37 minutes, it's sure to raise an eyebrow. Luckily, Virginia's Gifts From Enola are not an overblown batch of progressive mishmash. They do, however, fall into the always-expanding genre of heavy, instrumental rock ala Pelican, Mogwai, and Don Caballero.
The first little ditty, "Lionized," runs a brisk eight and a half minutes, and sounds like High on Fire and Baroness crossing The Sword. Trudging guitars drip with echoey reverb, and meld with a repetitive drum rhythm, which escalates into the requisite, hulking riff. The second movement dissolves into moody atmospheric noodling, before meeting somewhere in the middle by the tune's end.
The rest of the album is more of the same, just in different combinations, but it never gets boring or predictable. The dirgy alt-rock-metal and sharp staccato chords channels moments of The Refused and Thursday, spliced with spacestrumental passages and slippery outboard effects that bounce off the sides of the skull; great for late-night headphone listening, but not something you'll throw on to get the party started.
"Alagoas" is the greatest departure from the other tracks because it doesn't try to get heavy. Instead, Gifts From Enola basks in brightness. Light-hearted jazz chords ring with a whammy bar vibrato before delving into a Jimmy Eat World meets Joe Satriani orgy of poppy backbeat battling with a flurry of guitar notes that is dizzyingly satisfying.
The only real problem with Gifts From Enola is the scattered inclusion of vocals. Following in the footsteps of their other contemporary almost-instrumentalists, the band felt the need to pepper in some screams and spoken word. The issue is that they work well and the songs beg for more, but the group kept the voices so low in the mix that they are completely unintelligible. If you don't want the audience to focus on the vocals, then why put them in at all? This flirtation with vox is a tease, and the brief moments end up as a distraction from the music.
But that is a small gripe with an otherwise, gorgeous kaleidoscope of guitar playing and overall musicianship. Because each song segues into the next seamlessly, it's definitely an album to sit through from beginning to end, which is a welcome change in the ever-growing iTunes era. Also, kudos to those behind the artwork, another often-overlooked aspect of the album experience.
Bottom Line: Gifts From Enola is a solid release from an obviously talented group of musicians. If you dig the current trend of pseudo-anti-vocalist-smart-rock, you will not be disappointed.
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