Review Summary: PROS: Fresh, unusual, talented, "Real", free, well rounded variety of productions. CONS: Horrible, nasty, evil, not everyone will take Enigman's over-the-top persona seriously
Foreword: Hell's Circus is available for free download at http://piglords.net/hells_circus.zip - don't go looking for it on regular music buying websites.
It’s hard to recommend Enigman’s album to anyone, because it’s so offensive, you can’t use many conventional positive phrases to describe it. It’s remarkably well produced for an underground, independent project, with appropriate beats that have a life of their own, combined with cleverly thought out samples helping to create a diverse array of soundscapes. There is lyrical sophistication and a solid, consistent sense of flow. That’s about it for the good parts. With most artists, it’d be pretty hard to make an un-enjoyable album with those as starting points.
But Enigman’s different. He wants to put offensive slurs in his songs. He wants to demean women, glorify violence, tell tales of terror. If Eminem is angry at the world, Enigman wants to treat it like a Jack the Ripper victim. Hell’s Circus initially feels like a journey through a hell, with Enigman as the guide. Increasingly however, you become aware that the hell being described isn’t a fantasy but an twisted soul’s perception of reality. This isn’t a hell Enigman suffers in, this is a hell where he is the star.
What is most bizarre about something this offensive is how compelling it manages to be. It runs at such a pace you can’t stop and think about how ridiculous some of the statements are, only how frightening the concepts are. Furthermore, the voice is a real one, the venom so genuine it would be impossible to deny. Not that Enigman would try anyway. It’s the sound of a man so disillusioned with the world - whether that feeling is justified or not - that it has inspired this raging creativity. The conflict he is constantly engrossed in is the sole topic of the release, far outreaching Enigman’s intermittent attempts at self-glorification.
At 26 minutes, this album clocks in a bit short - but it's free, so value for money isn't an issue, and it keeps the constant rage fresh - if Enigman later records a full LP, production tricks won't disguise the fact there is only really has one mood running throughout Hell's Circus.
As said, all this forges a compelling listen, arousing curiosity constantly. Where the album is hard to recommend lies in the target audience: if you aren’t as bitter and twisted as he is, you cannot possibly appreciate the album completely, myself included. There may be a larger UK scene for this “death rap” genre than I am not aware of, but it must be very underground if there is. In the USA, it is of course far larger - helmed by Necro and Insane Clown Posse. I can appreciate it myself at some level, but it requires an open mind to do so, and one that does not have to agree with lyrics to appreciate the passion and energy that has gone into their creation. And, of course, it goes without saying that this album is not for the sensitive and easily offended - and I'm not saying that in a kitch, 80s horror movie kinda way, I mean it as a genuine warning as it's a legitimate cricism of the piece's ability to connect with audience.
Why is this? That’s the thing about this album: it knows it doesn’t have much of a target audience. This album has absolutely no hint of selling out whatsoever. Nobody in the world could possibly consider this a release with major commercial potential, because it is so offensive and hard to relate to. It’s just easier to believe something you find hard to imagine anyone wanting to make up. It is that dark credibility which will draw a small number of people, eagerly but apprehensively, towards it. Grim curiosity satisfied, most downloaders will never go near this again, but a handful of people will really get off on this – hopefully I’ll never meet one of them.