Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Enoch: The Hierophant (2011)

Heavy Week, Part 3


North Carolina's Enoch is a stoner sludge/doom band with an absolutely perfect name. Enoch was only briefly mentioned in the Old Testament, but he is the only person said to have "walked with God", and was one of only a few people to be taken bodily into heaven while still alive (I think Elijah and Jesus were the only others). So you can see why it's a good analogy for a stoner doom band. Do I need to spell it out for you?

The Hierophant is the band's first full-length album. Like Japanese dualists Boris, they have two sides to them. One has a laid-back, mellow, and jazzy feel. The drumming and guitar leads tend toward jazz, while the bass and rhythm guitar parts tend toward Sleep-style heaviness. Vocals are sparsely used, and where they are, the lyrics are simple and repetitive. Opener "Infinity" is the best example of the band's stoner doom side.

The other side of Enoch sounds like Boris, actually. The excellent, rocking, upbeat sludge of Pink, to be precise. "The Fickle Whims of the Almighty" is the best example of this side to Enoch.

The album starts out very strong on those two songs and a couple more. "Space Wizard" is mellow and heavy, and instrumental "Plague Bearer" has a bit punchier doom sound (after a couple minutes of ambient wind-like noise). The nearly 17 minute title track starts out with an ominous doom song, then fades out, and goes into a 10 minute plus psychedelic jam session. This kind of derails the album, going on aimlessly for so long, and follow-up "Moth", while an actual song, doesn't have any leads to speak of. "Robbie's Song" picks things up again with more Pink, and "A Riff Too Far" keeps that going before another, somewhat better jam session closes things out.

The Verdict: The Hierophant starts out very strong, with a compelling two-sided sound that meshes well and keeps things interesting. It wanders near the middle of the album, but finishes strong again. All in all, I found it to be a great listen, so I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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