Review Summary: Classic Enisum in a more compact framework
Enisum emerged from Italy’s Alpine region, and those origins have always felt fitting to me. The group’s brand of atmospheric black metal invokes a feeling of beauty, majesty, and wildness which seems appropriate for their native landscape. After years of obscurity, the band attracted a broader (if still niche) audience with 2015’s Arpitanian Lands
, which set them up as one of the top-tier purveyors in their scene.
is Enisum’s third album since their breakout effort, following 2017’s Seasons Of Desolation
(my personal favorite) which utilized a more aggressive approach, and 2019’s Moth’s Illusion
, which tinkered around the edges of the band’s sound but met with mixed reviews. This latest release, meanwhile, feels like Enisum embracing their bread-and-butter sound, while trimming the fat for a lean and mean outing. For context, the group’s last three albums all exceeded an hour in duration, while Forgotten Mountains
barely tops forty-five minutes. It’s a notable shift, and one that I’d argue works to the group’s benefit, making the (already strong) material here even more digestible and engaging from start to finish.
As previously hinted at, the eight songs here won’t win any awards for innovation. All of them are varied executions on the tried-and-true formula of atmoblack music - soaring melodies fuse with moments of visceral black metal and fleeting stretches of gentle folk. The first two tracks are the longest explorations, but leave no doubt what to expect, with both “Where You Live Again” and the title track offering engaging melodies, competent riffwork, and a riveting feel of sublime melancholy. Later tracks are shorter, mostly falling in the three-to-five minute range, but continue to manipulate the same sonic elements with knowing savviness. The snarl of “Night Forest”, for example, harkens back to Axioma Ethica Odini
-era Enslaved, while “Pure Sadness” sees Enisum at their most immediate and balls-to-the-wall. Throughout, the vocal stylings are diverse, with powerful black metal shrieks featuring heavily but intermixed with more guttural attempts and occasional clean vocals. The last of these seem to aim for a rustic feel, and if their inclusion is a bit questionable in the aforementioned “Night Forest”, they do provide a suitable eeriness amidst the potent screaming which dominates second-half highlight “Nothing”.
If you’ve read this far, you probably know approximately what to expect from this sort of album, and it’s true that there are plenty of well-worn tropes at play here. Indeed, by those measures, Forgotten Mountains
can be dismissed as that most-dreaded word: “generic”. But, there’s a generous flip side to this coin - Enisum is still one of the best in the business at what they do, and this album once again features near-perfect execution of this style of music. Forgotten Mountains
brings grittiness, grandeur, and atmosphere in spades. As the distortion fades out into a somber outro on closer “The Wind Smells Of You”, my mind turns every time to the album cover’s vision of birds circling over rugged peaks. For a record of this ilk, you couldn’t ask for much more.