REVIEW: Ennui Breathes Malice [EP/2014]


Artist: Ennui Breathes Malice

Album: Ire [EP]


Anger is one of the most powerful and diverse emotions. It can manifest itself as annoyance, physical aggression or passive emotional withdrawal; the degree of its severity depends almost entirely on context. As such, there are countless words and expressions we classify as synonymous with anger to fit the ever-expanding times and reasons we express and encounter it. One word in particular defines the dynamic spectrum of anger and aggression: Ire. Encompassing everything from bitter disgust to red-eyes wrath, ire is a diverse state of disgust and rage—making it the ideal title for the latest release from the Australian onslaught Ennui Breathes Malice. Their 2014 EP, Ire, is a flexible and fluid release that encompasses every aspect of human aggression—from the initial blinding rage to the tepid, tedious calm that follows—making it a remarkably natural and incredibly immersive experience that defies the typical transient nature typically associated with an EP’s brief runtime.

Ire is an incredibly varied instrumental experience—ranging from the resounding calm of “Mourning Son” to the lacerating intensity of “Dr. Real Keeps it Real”—Ennui Breathes Malice paint enormous soundscapes of jaw-dropping music with nothing more than mere instruments and remarkable songwriting ability. Ire‘s remarkable fluidity begins with the percussive expertise of Ash Dunne, who creates soothing sections of soaring, ethereal atmosphere during the EP’s subtle opener, “Mourning Son,” yet provides a frantic, furious backbone to the Titanic track “Dig to Benghazi.” However, unlike the behemoth passenger shit, “Dig to Benghazi” does not sink; rather, it soars with the assistance of Ben Canty and Hayden Etcheberry’s furious fretwork. Beginning with a bustling, bone-busting breakdown, “Dig to Beghazi” showcases Canty and Etcheberry at their finest: from flooring aggression to uplifting moments of breathe-taking beauty. While “Mourning Son” is a marvelous example of the duo’s ability to craft moments of deep, tranquil calm, tracks like “Dig to Benghazi” and the quick-but-crushing “Zodiacal” are examples of their energetic guitar expertise. Overall, though, tracks like “Premature Infatuation,” “Dig to Beghazi” and “Dr. Real Keeps it Phil” (the EP’s longest and most epic songs) see Ennui Breathes Malice at their finest, incorporating all aspects of their incredible dynamic into one superb sonic adventure.

While Ennui Breathes Malice traverse minute foothills of majestic serenity and climb daunting Giants of disastrously heavy breakdowns and mammoth riffs, there is a voice shouting overtop it all, pushing Ire to greater and greater heights: that of vocalist Alex Debney. Debney draws from a vast well of human emotion to assault the listener with grisly bellows (which are at their best in “The Sebastian Lukoszec Piñata Party”) to berating, brutal shouts and screeching screams (excellent on “Dr. Real Keeps it Phil”) to make Ire as diverse vocally as it is instrumentally. “Dr. Real Keeps it Phil” is an excellent example of Debney’s vocal prowess, as from the first catchy one-liner, he unleashes a relentless siege of shrill, sinister screams upon the listener that wears their sanity down to the nerve. Even where some segments of Ire lose their instrumental momentum and stall, Debney’s visceral vocals provide enough horsepower for Ennui Breathes Malice to continue plowing onwards, responding to each temporary pitfall with a moment of resounding vocal brilliance that sends them skyrocketing once more, like a jet plane pulling free from a nosedive.

As you’ve probably guessed, Ire is a release defined by its ups and downs—Its careful balance between kilowatts of energy and near sleep-inducing calm. Ire is Ennui Breathes Malice stepping out of their comfort zones in more ways than one; using a crowd-funding approach to provide their listener with an entirely different take on their trademarked fret-friendly aggression. Ennui Breathes Malice begin Ire with a risk—the deceptive stillness of “Mourning Son”—only to pull out of it the ten-tons-of-shock-and-awe that is “Zodiacal.” The quartet continue the entire release in this manner, building up to breakdown, revising it ever so slightly with each new verse, chorus, chug and sweep; from early 2000s metalcore influences (not solely present in the misnomer song titles) to modern, barbaric displays of beatdown heaviness, Ire has a little (or a lot) of something for any fan of heavy music: catchy to crushing, allowing it to stand out among the myriad metalcore releases 2014 provided.

Whether you’re looking to smash enemies and see red, or stew in bitterness and disgust, Ire is your soundtrack for experiencing the true spectrum of human aggression, and the soothing stillness it gives rise to. Ennui Breathes Malice bet it all on red with their latest release, and reaped the benefits of victory with precious little to serve as a downside, showing the listener that wrath is just as effective at crafting icons as it is at destroying them.



For Fans Of: Like Moths to Flames, As Blood Runs Black, Martyr Defiled, I’ll Be an Empire, Ravens as Doves

By: Connor Welsh