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Seigmen - Enola (2015) - Review

Band: Seigmen
Album title: Enola
Release date: 13 April 2015
Label: Indie Recordings

Tracklist:
01. Hva vi Elsker
02. Trøst
03. Forevig og Alltid
04. Utopia i Mine Armer
05. Til Verdens Ende
06. Tenn Alle Lys
07. Deus
08. Monokrom
09. I Mitt Hus
10. Hvit Stjerne Hvit Støy
11. Mot I Brystet (bonus track)

Bittersweet melancholy, thy name is Seigmen.

I can't say anything but thank you Tristania, which at the time being was my favourite band, for covering "The Modern End" from Seigmen's Radiowaves, on their 2001 album World Of Glass. You see, on that very album this song stood out so greatly, that I immediately went exploring why. Realizing it's a cover, I was on a mission to find the original artist and there it was. As much as I loved Tristania's cover and Vibeke Stene's woeful interpretation of it, the original spoke to me on a whole different lever. The minimalistic structure of it, the arrhytmic pulsating beat of it, the gloomy effects and disconsolate vocals opened a door to a whole new realm. It was so crestfallen; so elegiac, lifeless and heavyhearted. And the more I explored Seigmen, the more I fell and fell into the abyss of their aerial enchantment. I was spellbound and for years I have craved and yearned and hoped and dreamt I would perhaps discover a band, which will be at least a bit similar to them; to be able to capture the same enthralling sensations and soaring emotions, but nothing ever even came close. With only sporadic appearances in the past decade and a half, no words of new material and Zeromancer (Seigmen's younger, more energetic and modern, industrial brother) being on the rise, I buried Seigmen a while ago, so you can imagine how heart-warmed and excited I felt when suddenly the news hit they are back and that new material is about to be released soon. His name is Enola. And I fell in love again.
 
If we take another trip down the memory lane, the Norwegian quintet was back in the days – early 90s – so ahead of their time, so innovative, breaking the ice and forming a solid ground for so many bands to come in terms of atmospheric music. Their seemingly simplistic approach was anything but that, because what made Seigmen so special was their ability to create a wide array of obscure and wretched ambiances and it felt it came so natural to them. It's like they poured their essence into a sequence of notes and ethereal beauty came out of it. Their 1993 debut Ameneon was unlike anything, as the specific use of guitar arrangements, which varied from being profoundly hypnotizing to intoxicatingly aggressive alongside rhythm section, which paced alongside the feeling of an album from the first to the last note, accompanied by expressive and unique vocal work came to establish their signature style. They only deepened and broadened the mesmerizing and emotional soundscapes on the following Total and Metropolis, so it was quite understandable 1997's Radiowaves came a bit as a shock to fans, as it featured influences from then popular acts, which were delivering electronic-hybrid music, such as Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode. Radiowaves was different indeed, as some of the influences, such as those from gothic rock may have faded away and digital manipulation of the sound entered their world, as they incorporated quite a lot of sampling and programming. Nonetheless, their core remained the same: seigmenian radiowaves ware still raw, poetic, romantic and they managed to thoroughly overran the listener.

So I guess some of you will be delighted to know Seigmen went back to the basics, to the root of their being and stripped down their music of all digital effects on the new album. Even though eighteen years have passed since they released a full length studio album and the band's creative force Kim Ljung alongside frontman Alex Møklebust were mainly pouring their ideas in Zeromancer, Enola is anything any Seigmen listener would ever wish for. It's a journey through sweet dreams and frightening nightmares. What really creates Enola's unique ambient is that it doesn't only lean of the 50 shades of melancholy, but it builds its atmosphere on a contrast. Its dynamics flows from upbeat, light and optimistic melodies, which then descend into darkness and frailty and even loathe. The opening "Hva Vi Elsker" therefore may come as a bit of a surprise, being catchy and light-weight, but the following "Trøst" portrays the very abysmal, swirling and dismal sensations we came to adore with Seigmen. The peculiar guitar arrangements, which shift from straight-edge riffing to incorporeal dissociative tunes, alongside Alex's intense and charismatic vocals and very basic, but effective use of synthesizers deliver wonders and carry out a waving pulse of intertwining energy. The contrast is not only stated by opposing the ambiance of one track to the other, but it's also present inside the very compositions. The album's highlight, the intense "Utopia i Mine Armen" surely stands out, as its complex structure holds all those colours in one: it begins almost optimistically and up-beat and then descends into darkness and serenity. And just when you think the story has reached its grand closure, the aggressive, alternative rock influenced guitars strike again and rise the sensation of it to the sky, where there is no limits. The sombre and fragile ballads "Tenn Alle Lys" and "Hvit Stjerne Hvit Støy" explore the world of poetic romanticism and depict the state where the soaring is so heightened; you have the feeling of complete exhaustion due to dealing with your innermost, overbearing emotions, while "I Mit Hus" flirts with the aggressive side of it. With "Deus" you get another glimpse of the swirling seigmenian energy and the instrumental "Monocrom" brings a wave of soothing vibe, which will consume you from head to toe. At this this point I can't go without again mentioning Alex's impeccable singing, which gives each and every song a lot of atmosphere, as he sways from sounding deranged, furious, ferocious, endlessly inconsolable and forevermore sorrowful. He is in complete charge of his voice and knows how to deal with it, whether to emphasize the emotions of music or tune them down.

There is no darkness without light, no hatred without love and no grief without happiness; it's all just a liquid symbiosis. Our lives revolve around passing through them and that is just what Enola's story is about. A nothing less than brilliant comeback by the oh so missed, but never forgotten Norwegians, delivers ten songs which go beyond hypnotizing with a slightly modern tone, giving them a special flavour. Seigmen are not a static form of melancholy, they are forever changing, exploring the variety of it. Enola will make your deepest wounds bleed again, but it will also help to stop the bleeding. It will open your old wounds and awoke your deepest, most jet-black, buried feelings. But it will also help you process them. All you need is to let go; free your mind of the chains of everyday worries and let them penetrate your mind and intoxicate your bloodstream until you reach the point, where your mind dissociates from your body and liberates itself.

Seigmen… Welcome back!

Review written by: Ines
Rating: 9/10

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