How long a star’s nuclear fusion remains perpetually burning is counter-intuitively tied to its size. The smallest sun burns through it’s celestial fuel at an exponentially slow rate, potentially lighting the night’s sky for trillions of years; In contrast a massive O-type star may only stay lit for a measly three million or so years before it’s core becomes a new fuel for dissolution. Though billions of stars visible from Earth are in the throes of stellar evolution at any given time it is safe to say that the light emitted by the vast majority of them will far outlive the complete era of human existence and our evolution; Even beyond death their lights will remain visible on a time scale impossible for most to even consider. What absent-minded delusion drives our self-destructive, unappreciative species towards any false sense of control? Desperate greed and sordid alignments exist as games played by short-sighted cowards when ‘life’ remains so brief as to appear meaningless on any other scale other than our own. To see and then submit to the limitless void that surrounds existence is to achieve the biggest picture possible.
If that doom is frightening as a concept in its infancy then render yourself helpless to its reversal and find escapism wherever possible. Of course you will need a soundtrack for this void meditation and cosmic depressive state and Tbilisi, Georgia based funeral death/doom metal band Ennui present ‘End of the Circle’ as just that: A soundtrack for feeling small in the enormity of useless human knowledge. To be brilliant and shining and ultimately meaningless amidst such beauty as it corrodes around you. It is no wonder that pondering the -biggest- picture serves to influence Ennui‘s fourth and unquestionably most ambitious full-length, its sound is no less massive. Otherworldly in its atmospheric death/doom power, ‘End of the Circle’ is an extension of extremes previously heard taken as far as they can be without losing sight of the project’s lightly death metal leaning discography.
If you’d started at the beginning with Ennui with ‘Mze Ukunisa’ (2012) you’ll more than likely remember its gloriously atmospheric guitar work set atop fairly standard funeral death/doom metal along the lines of Evoken and Mournful Congregation. Some of that earliest DNA still powers ‘End of the Circle’ in terms of mood and atmospheric value, most easily heard on the nearly 33 minute title track that starts the album. The duo of David Unsaved (Necropoli, Unsaved) and Serj Shengelia (Angel of Disease, Signs) had always immediately excelled at creating a sort of slow-motion, or at least funeral doom paced take on melodic death/doom but where they seemed to grow over the course of their first three albums was actually towards death/doom metal a la Mourning Beloveth or Morgion. In taking on bigger, longer tracks Ennui‘s sound almost goes the way of later Esoteric with impressive results but still with their own strong focus on death metal heard on ‘Falsvs Anno Domini’ (2015).
The retention of death metal’s guidance maintains a listening experience that is cosmically rich in atmosphere but never slows down so much that the shape of its compositions become questionable. In fact the performances shine brighter within the heightened extraterrestrial themes of the album most notably the ‘epic’ guitar work that feeds the incredible thread of “End of the Circle” but also the surprisingly deft session drumming from John Devos (Mesmur, Dalla Nebbia) who is far more capable than expected in following up Daniel Neagoe‘s (Pantheist, Eye of Solitude) massive performance on the previous album. Where I grow restless is in considering how I will approach this record for casual listening, if possible.
With three tracks all amounting to roughly two full-lengths worth of material I found myself needing a break after the title track even during the first focused listen. With few solitary moments available on any given day Ennui sits in a small but cherished stable of funeral doom metal albums that require planned sessions. With my own life to blame for impeding on enjoyment of the project’s ambition I can’t necessarily fault the extended nature of each piece. Nothing feels grossly exaggerated nor does the album force the listener to sit through an endless build towards climax; ‘End of the Circle’ is arranged into peaks of interest and great moments of summation and this is the mark of quality that seasoned funeral doom metal listeners will appreciate most. They haven’t simply made longer tracks for the hell of it but instead unbuckled the possibilities that more space to breathe brings. Ennui have smartly avoided purely iteration of their previous record, which was an earnest high point, and instead put forth a stunning dance of extremes. ‘End of the Circle’ couldn’t have worked so well were it not held together by its own gravitas. Highly recommended.
Celestial creatures in deep azure. 4.0/5.0
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