Formed in 2009, ENSHINE was originally the solo project of Swedish guitarist Jari Lindholm (Seas of Years, ex-Slumber) but became a bit later a full and steady band with the coming of French vocalist Sébastien Pierre (Fractal Gates, Inborn Suffering, Cold Insight)...
An improbable duo on the paper, but what made me first skeptical was the doom/death tag to describe their sound, a style which one can think has revealed everything it could and is outdated for quite some time now... Without being the revelation of the decade, there's still several consistent things that make ENSHINE contradicting nicely my prejudices and prove this "Origin" to be a real winner in the end !
One thing that is important to keep the captivating dynamic almost intact -all along this album- is that the guys avoid the too typical Peaceville 3 references, their type of melodic mid-tempo Metal is more made of Scandinavian overtones (Katatonia most prominently); not particularly melancholic, nor depressive, the sound of Enshine gives a lot of place to atmopsheric textures, enhanced by the regular use of keyboards.
Shared between both Jari and Sébastien, keys are bringing that Gothic touch typical of those years (mid 90's - remember Phlebotomized, Theatre of Tragedy, etc...), just enough mellow, providing beautiful harmonies with layering guitar parts, they never make songs loosing weight. Also, we're here preserved from the overused typical female vocals (just a few choir vocals here and there), double-bass drums or violins, a distinctive force instead (and better enjoying) is the stellar soloing of Jari !
If some acoustic introductions are somewhat too predictable and systematic, peaceful and bright moments bring a well-balanced variation to their basically dark and agressive structures, the guys craft great soundscapes to make you float in a kind of parallel dreamy world ! Naturally in those contemplative moods, death growls are abandoned for whispers or darker and more commanding vocals ("Nightwave"). Always in harmony with the dynamics, vocals are just perfect on the whole album, never too forced in either of the register used, just like the guitars are not too heavy, keys not too treacly as said before, drums not too fast, etc...
Pure modern doomsters who crave for crushing and abrasive heaviness may not find their count here, but songs like "Stream of Light", "Refraction", "Nigthwave" and "Ambivalence" are very solid pieces filled with pretty memorable melodies, just a thicker production and rythmic would have allowed to add a couple of songs to that list, this will be undoubtedly for next time...
I'm not saying that you'll necessarily love this band but one must recognize that the songwriting is very skilled, cohesive and fluid. I'm the first surprised to write this from a doom/death album in 2013 but this debut is a real breath of fresh hair - which makes this "Origin" a potential illuminator of that gloomy spring !
"Origin" will be released on May 15th through Rain Without Ends rds