Extremity is a term that has lost its meaning in the metal scene long ago, to the point where the most “extreme” acts are now by way of popular opinion mostly consisting of the knuckledragging mutants that churn out indistinguishable slam records with interchangeable logos and covers.
While the brazen, tactless charm of those records hints at what may be an element of the id driving the metal spirit, it is clearly revealed as a misguided and improper interpretation of the force behind the metal ideology when the listener is forced to weigh the presentation of the records as a whole while being inundated with the juvenile concepts therein. Most extreme bands reveal their human tendencies immediately and in the process close the door on what could be a journey towards a foreign experience unsullied by the follies of man, and not only do they limit their vision thusly but revel in the inanity in the process.
While “modern brutal death metal” may have succeeded in delivering the falsehood of a human extreme, there still are groups not only searching for a new expression that blurs the lines of what kind of story can be told within the death metal aesthetic, but one that strains the definition of music itself — presenting an extreme that delineates an uncharted experience and at the same time stridently exposing the narrow visions puked forth on most modern death metal releases.
Encenathrakh are such a band, and achieve their vision through a Pollockesque canvas splattering filtered through the death metal aesthetic. This isn’t achieved via the zany paths apparent in similar acts as Orthrealm, but more the barrage you would hear in a marriage of Noism and demos-era Portal, with a nod to the spasms of Naked City. Narrative structure is completely abandoned here, and only after a few listens does it not come across as a random, improvisational mess barely held together by rhythmic battery. While modern metal has been exposed for narrative weakness for decades now, contemporary bands have faltered while pursuing the art of structure, yet Encenathrakh wears their compositional defiance as a badge as the unbridled mess spews forth in a somehow confident deluge.
As with extreme metal, the wallpaper effect is definitely an immediate result, yet in a different way; the dynamic inversion here somehow distorts the perceived elements outside of the listening experience into a dull, colorless mass as the record ebbs and tides. What aids Encenathrakh in their pursuits is the very organic production of the release: drums are not triggered, beats are not quantized, guitars are not overly compressed. The record lives and breathes as tempos wildly fluctuate and the left and right stereo signals harmonize despite playing seemingly different songs simultaneously, still somehow landing together with the ever shifting tempos. This is not a record with standout tracks (song titles are single “word” syllabic jumbles recalling the anagram in the Nespithe booklet) let alone concrete melodies, yet random sounds that bubble up to the surface will stick with the listener as palate cleansers to the otherwise complete aural hellscape.
After repeated listens I am not convinced that Encenathrakh was a good experience, yet somehow through the unabashed lack of substance the band has provided a more substantial release than much of what I have heard under the death metal umbrella in recent times. The experience both makes the listener yearn for the essence of “song” while at the same time question why so many artists are trapped by its underpinnings. The extremity of the record lies less in the data of the music and more in the confrontation it forces the listener to endure when presented with it, and although experienced metal fans are still eulogizing the demise of coherent songwriting in extreme music, Encenathrakh celebrates it with an aural headstone marking where narrative structure now rests.