Album: Arpitanian Lands
Arpitanian Lands is the fourth full length album from Italian black metal band Enisum, although I believe that the first two albums were more like demos, being independently released way back in 2006. They seem to label themselves as ambient black metal, but I pretty much disagree, since this album is very clearly an atmospheric black metal album along the same lines of this year’s Homeward Path by Vallendusk. In fact, I am just going to draw that comparison right off the top. Enisum and Vallendusk are not exactly the same, of course, but their straight-forward approach to atmospheric black metal is somewhat of a breath of fresh air. The same things I really enjoyed about Homeward Path are present here on Arpitanian Lands.
The first thing to point out that I love about Enisum’s sound is the high quality production, which I find many atmospheric black metal bands tend to lack, in favour of that more “kvlt” Burzum-esque sound. That’s fine, and I certainly don’t fault some bands for having lo-fi production. Off the top of my head, one of my favourite atmospheric black metal albums this year was from the extremely lo-fi Shaidar Logoth, entitled Chapter II: The Ritualist. That being said, some bands incorporate the lo-fi sound and aesthetic well and others do not; for atmospheric black metal, I feel like the sound can shine the most with very clear production and a very big sound, especially the way that Enisum plays. The reason why this good production works so well is because the songs are huge; sprawling tracks that have many different sections, leading to nice crescendos and gorgeous guitar solos, it just sounds grand and powerful.
This kind of triumphant atmospheric black metal is gaining more and more ground each year, replacing the more thoughtful, retrospective atmospheric black. The songs are gaining speed, energy, and power. It’s the same feeling I love in a great European power metal song; that big sound, that grand concept. I think Enisum captures that sound very well.
To dive into some of the specifics, Enisum is almost entirely “metal instrument-based”, if I could coin that phrase. Many atmospheric black metal bands incorporate acoustic instruments, especially the cello or violin. Even Vallendusk indulged in a bit of synthesized instrumentals (which were awesome, by the way). But Enisum keeps things quite pure and writes their powerful swells of sound without the assistance of the violin or synth. There is a lot of soaring guitar and crashing drums. The vocals are nicely done, sounding pretty harsh with a nice snarled tone. There is the occasional addition of female vocals, which is used sparingly enough to keep them a welcome addition rather than a crutch to sprinkle in some extra beauty or emotion.
One minor drawback is the occasional presence of clipping, which is unfortunate for such a great sounding album. It is rare enough that it doesn’t bother me as much as it would bother others, but it should be mentioned. Regardless, I still think Enisum has come out with a powerful album here. I didn’t get a chance to revisit last year’s release, Samoht Nara, but when I listened to it last year I gave it a high rating as well, so it appears that Enisum is on a role. I hope that the few production mishaps are completely taken care of for the next album, but I really love the massive sound and I want more of it.
Check ’em out here: https://dusktone.bandcamp.com/album/enisum-arpitanian-lands-dusk028cd