Opening track “Stop” on? Enojado‘s debut full-length Till the Distance is Complete (The Black Desert Inn) doesn’t really give much of an idea of what the Deutsche metallers are setting out to do with the record. The first three minutes of the five-minute track are near n?-metal before a really sludgy part gives way to more chugging. Fortunately, although they approach Disturbed-style thickheadedness on “Stolen Charger,” most of the songwriting draws influence directly from Entombed. The title cut, which follows “Stop” not a moment too soon, is the real mission statement. Guitarist and singer Stephan Kieserling is a one-man combination of L.G. Petrov and Alex Hellid, adjoining his (mostly) rough vocals with a six string tone straight out of Sunlight Studios and taken further in the stoner/doom direction than the seminal Swedes ever dared to tread.
“Mammoth City” is set on a killer Kyuss riff as Kieserling and second guitarist Stephan Merkle fuzz out before the mammothness for which the city is named shows up in the form of Martin Merkle‘s rumbling bass. For his cleaner vocals, which come up more later in the record, Kieserling combines the approaches of Pepper Keenan circa Wiseblood and James Hetfield when he had the mullet. There’s bite and darkness to the material, but as the principal songwriter Kieserling proves somewhat uneven. By the time “Underdog Blood Exposure” — track four and possibly the heaviest of all 10 — came around, I found myself wondering when or if the band was going to make the Cephalic Carnage left turn into ultra-doom that I’d been hoping and the guitar tone had been begging for. They never did.
Interestingly, they hit the stoner/doom fork in the road and pointed Till the Distance is Complete squarely toward the former, hitting the aforementioned “Stolen Charger” bump before going ?ber-Uprising on “Broken Legs,” asking the deep question in the titular line, “Have you ever tried to run with broken legs?” Awesome. I’m not about to hold the blatant Entombed influence against them. I’ve said it before: the world needs more “Seeing Red.”
The real kicker is the soft, (gasp!) sweet guitar opening of album highlight “Still Drowning.” It seems to come out of nowhere, yet there were somehow just enough stonerisms preceding it to make it fit perfectly. If anything on the record offsets the dips of “Stop” and “Stolen Charger,” “Still Drowning” is it.
It joins “Underdog Blood Exposure” and the closer as one of the longer tracks on Till the Distance is Complete, but “Still Drowning” is Enojado at their most diverse and individualized. Kieserling focuses his C.O.C. vocal and sets it next to a groove chunky enough break a tooth. It’s stoner, but it’s their stoner. Drummer Tobias Breer handles the quiet/loud shifts with ease and Merkle‘s bass is again high enough in the mix to rumble speakers. Following it with subdued guitar interlude “The Ground” was the right choice, since it breaks up “Still Drowning” and “Regulate,” two quality cuts which otherwise might have blended together because of their similarities in approach, despite the latter being just a tad heavier.
10-minute finale “Casino” oddly cops a cadence from Warren Zevon‘s “Werewolves of London” (good luck getting that out of your head) and dooms it with a echoing vocal and hairy tone. The song has several movements worthy of attention, including one with guest xylophone, but loses its way before fading into feedback and eventually a long droning sequence of noise. There’s plenty to chew on before then, but compared to the several more cohesive songs just witnessed, “Casino” feels more like a part collection than something meticulously structured.
So at an hour long, the record, like life, has its ups and downs, strikes and gutters. When they’re on, however, Enojado absolutely kill. Several of these songs prove it, and had Till the Distance is Complete been trimmed of maybe 15 of its total 60 minutes, it would be a tight, vicious offering with more than enough venom to bring down whatever wildebeest was set before it. As it stands, there’s a couple tracks you skip and some you repeat because you can’t get enough of them. Everything’s a tradeoff.
Tags: Enojado, Germany, The Black Desert Inn