Review: E-L-R – Mænad

In this decade we’ve heard plenty of bands taking the influence from genre legends such as Neurosis, Cult Of Luna and Wolves In The Throne Room, but now we are reaching a point where the pivotal bands that came from those influences, such as Amenra, Alcest and Deafheaven (to name a few obvious ones) are starting to inspire a further wave of interesting acts. Closing off a fantastic decade of post-metal’s resurgence and forward growth come Swiss newcomers E-L-R, who take cues from some of these acts, yet twist into something that they can call their own.

Mænad begins with ‘Glancing Limbs” lengthy hurdy-gurdy drone from Amenra’s CHVE, as pounding drums and softly building guitars chime away patiently. What feels like it could burst into a harrowing sludge onslaught (ala Amenra’s ‘A Mon Ame’), instead takes a left turn into dreamy and ethereal heights as wonderful harmonised reverb drenched vocals from Isabelle and Selina soar into the mix. It becomes clear that E-L-R are very much inspired by Amenra, especially in terms of song structures and chords, but reach a different conclusion – one that is sonically their own – replacing Amenra’s harrowing sludge intensity with a more hopeful, melodic and surreal aural landscape. This continues wonderfully into ‘Devotee’, with an epic, soaring chorus that reaches the blissful heights of label-mates Alcest. ‘Above The Mountains There Is Light’ works as a slow-burning album centrepiece where drums take nearly four minutes to make an appearance, yet is carried by such a captivating atmosphere. Patient listeners are then rewarded with the most immediate cut, ‘Ambrosia’, with lively, pounding drums and a vibe more reminiscent of gothic post-punk legends Siouxsie & The Banshees, concluding with eerie whispered vocals.

E-L-R are never in a hurry to get anywhere with their lengthy slow songs, but their ear for compositional space, atmospheric depths and patient structures are incredibly well tuned from the outset. The trio reside in their own little world; not as painfully crushing as Amenra, not as dense as Cult Of Luna, not as shoegazy as Alcest and not as versatile as Myrkur, yet existing somewhere in the spaces between them. Mænad is album that sounds both comfortingly familiar and refreshingly bold, resulting in a magnificent and captivating journey that rewards repeat listening. “Doomgaze” doesn’t quite seem to have taken off as a subgenre name, but if it does, E-L-R could easily claim the throne.

Mænad is available now via Prophecy Productions and can be purchased here.

Words: Chris “Frenchie” French