It’s a pretty rare phenomenon, but every now and again somebody gets in touch who feels strongly enough about a release to send it to me even though they’re not affiliated with the band in question, not part of any record label or promotional effort or anything like that. Just a fan of a work who thinks I’d be better off hearing it enough that they’re willing to put their postage where their mouth is and actually send it. To that end, I offer thanks and kudos to Anthony Brown of Guildford in the UK who saw fit to shoot a copy of Enos‘ 2010 debut, Chapter 1, across an ocean on my behalf. Even before I went to the post office and picked it and the XII Boar demo he also sent up, it was an effort I appreciated.
I’ve had some past experience with Enos, and pleasant experience at that. The band played the pre-show at London’s Desertfest last year (review here) supporting 1000mods that I was fortunate enough to attend, and while there, I picked up a copy of their 2012 self-released outing, All too Human. The band, who are named for the first chimpanzee launched into orbit, also work with space-program themes on the five tracks of what would essentially be a demo if it didn’t sound so cohesive over the course of its 34 minutes. It’s not hard to pin a narrative arc to the five tracks, “Launch,” “In Space,” “Floating,” “Transform” and “Back to Earth,” so to coincide with the professionally crisp production, they seem to have started out with a firm grip on the concepts driving their creativity. All the better across the songs, really, since “Launch” embarks with a countdown of cymbal wash and explodes with a vibrant pulse into the riffing of Chris P. Rizzanski and Sean Cox, which emerges as the dominant force in a nonetheless well-balanced mix thickened by George “Bungle” Cobbold‘s bass.
Rizzanski also handles vocals in semi-melodic, echoing shouts that sit smoothly alongside a psychedelic impulse, though when “In Space” is at its most chaotic, following a brief acoustic stop when Sparky Rogers kicks back in on the drums and the guitars are going full-force, he seems to shift more into a throatier approach that in another context I’d probably attribute to a Neurosis influence. Even looking back after All too Human, Chapter 1 finds Enos refreshingly individual. Yeah, there are the post-Kyuss riffs and some of Rizzanski‘s delivery reminds of Orange Goblin‘s Ben Ward — an impression I got less from the subsequent outing — but if Enos are making anything clear on these tracks it”s that what they’re in the process of developing is theirs specifically, and as “Floating” lives up to its name with the transition into the more raucous “Transform,” the shortest song on Chapter 1 but a barn-burner at 4:26, the work they’re doing seems well worth undertaking, the two guitars showing some lead interplay in the bridge over the solid rhythmic foundation of the bass and drums.
As it was no doubt intended to do, the nine-minute closer “Back to Earth” provides a neat summary of the 2010 outing — which, if you’re looking for a marker of its era, you might find in the MySpace link included on the back liner of the jewel case — gradually building a psychedelic opening progression to an airy mid-paced push and forward to a grander, louder, larger apex that consciously answers the call of the first four cuts for resolution prior to its long fadeout. Knowing they’d put out All too Human two years later and build on the accomplishments here feels a bit like cheating, but does nothing to diminish enjoyment of Chapter 1 as it is. The band’s latest release is the 2013 live album The East Slope, which is sold-out on CD, but still available digitally through the Enos Bandcamp, and there are still a couple copies of Chapter 1 out there as well. I feel fortunate to have been given one and having sat with the album and gotten to know it better, am all the more able to understand why Brown felt so strongly about it in the first place. Thank you, sir.