ENMA is a progressive metal band with some grunge influences from Tilburg, the Netherlands. The released their album Apathy Awakened during a live show in Little Devil on October 28th. ENMA was founded by guitarist and composer Tom Adams and consists of (ex-)members from Exivious, Our Ouceans, Yama and the New Dominion. These guys know what they’re doing, that’s for sure. They received a Makersfonds bursary for promising artists from the Tilburg municipality for their videoclip of Enigma (see below) which furthermore proves that point. ENMA takes inspiration from other progressive bands like Tool and Haken, but also mix in more straightforward riffs like Alice in Chains, and dark moody atmospheric bits like Katatonia.
First off, let me say to for me, ENMA is more heavy rock/progressive rock than actual metal. On some tracks they go more towards the metal spectrum, but most of it is mid-tempo, not that hard, more into rock/grunge territory. And even the progressiveness is not as clearly defined throughout the whole album. There are definitely some progressive riffs and parts in there, but overall, it’s more straightforward. That makes this album very approachable and listenable for people who are maybe not so much into progressive metal, or metal at all. Maybe see it as a gateway band into metal (we each have our gateway bands, right?)
Apathy Awakened starts off with the track the band received the bursary for, Enigma. Right of the bat the band opens with the vocal harmonies that define their sound. It reminds me of Riverside, although it has an Alter Bridge vibe as well. Nothing too crazy, straight forward riffs, clear vocals. In places the bass gets in some great unexpected riffs, and similar to Riverside, the bass really plays an important part in ENMA’s music.
The next track, Apathy Awakened, has even more of a Riverside vibe with the delays, open chords and full-frontal bass riffs (that may or may not be inspired by The Great Debate – Dream Theater). Here we experience a bit of the ENMA progressive sound as well with the weird timing and multiple layered instruments. Both guitarists show off with tapping riff-off, just before the guitar solo bridge. As for songwriting, again, a pretty classic song, but upped a notch with a bit of weirdness. The song builds up to an epic explosion of sound at 5.30 or so, and this is my favorite part of the track: multiple harmonies all in sync and creating almost a big metal orchestra. Apathy Awakened is probably also the ‘hardest’ track on this album. As I said: ENMA is a gateway band.
Debita Nostra is again more of a classic hardrock song, and has the best vocal harmonies on this album, especially for the verse parts. Most of the vocals on this track are harmonized (and that’s a good thing). You kinda expect a big chorus, but the chorus you get is more of the same as the verse parts, so songwriting for this song is a bit weird. Halfway through the song we have another mellow break, which takes ENMA into Tool land. (It’s not Schism, but it’s not NOT Schism if you get what I mean). Layered with latin choir parts, it creates its own version, however.
With Augury we take another step in the progressive pool ENMA takes inspiration from. Again, a mid-tempo song, lots of clean guitars and vocals, lots of delays, open space, and of course, vocal harmonies. Reaching the chorus however, it’s turned almost in a grungy power ballad. Though Moria is probably the real balad of the album. Alex’ vocals really shine on this track though.
Hemera’s Call is another song the band released a video for prior to the release of this album. I’ve heard the track before and enjoyed it then too. This to me is probably the best track of the album. It has the Tool rhythmic parts, the clean open chords, and some weird prog stuff going on.
Even though there are for sure some interesting things happening on this album it’s probably not for me. Progressive metal is a broad spectrum and there are probably lots of people who will really enjoy this grungier straightforward approach. It’s very listenable, and will appeal to a broad public, but to me that’s also its downfall. It’s good, but it doesn’t blow me away (yet). All in all, Apathy Awakened is an enjoyable 54 minutes of heavy progressive rock (by lack of a better description). Me being more into the harder styles of metal, this didn’t excite me as much as it probably will others.