Let’s be honest – for all its talk of “extremes”, Metal is largely a pretty conservative genre. Few bands experiment beyond the controlled combination of rigorously defined subgenres, and even those who do truly push the boundaries are normally content to do so only once. Ehnahre – formed with the stated intention of creating the most horrible and perverse music imaginable – have been a dedicated exception to this rule from the beginning, to the extent that they frequently don’t sound like a Metal band at all.
Metal – specifically an ugly fusion of Doom and Death which favours discordance and noise over conventional riffing – has always been only one element of their sound, but each album has seen it surrender more and more ground to their other tools, including ambient, Noise and neo-classical. Metal isn’t the payoff here, the meat that you have to wade through the salad of instrumental noodling to get to – the four long-form tracks blend all of their musical elements together into chaotic, disorienting but meticulously structured attacks which have far more in common with Vmthanaachth or Sandor Valy than Gorguts. Compared to the sprawling, eighteen-track monster that was their previous album Douve, The Marrow (Painted Throat Music) is simultaneously more tightly structured and more intense, easier to sit down and listen to in one piece but harder to truly digest.
If I’ve made The Marrow sound pretentious or artificial so far, however, I’ve done it a disservice. Ehnahre’s musicianship and ambition are both beyond question, but this is no hollow exercise in noodling – this is deliberate, purposeful music made with the intent of horrifying and disturbing, and it succeeds utterly. Play this at a Jazz club and the place will burn to the fucking ground. If Ehnahre have left Metal behind, it’s simply because conventional riffs and beats can’t keep up with the sheer horror they’re dealing with – next to The Marrow, most Death Metal sounds like Rock n’ Roll with a sore throat.
If you want Extreme Metal that fully embraces the artistic and experimental in 2017, listen to Ingurgitating Oblivion or Pyrrhon. If you’re prepared to treat Metal as a springboard into the truly unhinged and horrific, however, it is hard to imagine anything providing a better companion on that journey than The Marrow.