Jacob, a new collaborative album from the avant-garde metal collective Ehnahre and the German drone guitarist Hellmut Neidhardt (performing as N), is a doozy.
The record contains just three tracks, from album opener “An Exiled King,” which features over 17 minutes of music, to the final track, “The Cockroach,” which clocks in at over eight minutes. Although they’re expertly and almost inextricably intertwined, the record contains two main sonic palettes, including off-kilter blackened doom alongside unnerving and feedback-drenched guitar drone. On “An Exiled King,” these two approaches unfold simultaneously, making the sound feel absolutely massive, like a menacingly colossal tidal wave.
From the get-go, the music feels menacingly stark. Journeying through the record seems at least a bit like staring into an all-consuming void — there’s no light, no respite, and not even any visibly familiar order, as if time itself has somehow been incinerated. Within the world of the music, all that’s left is gazing into the shadows in a feat of grim hypnosis as suffocating smoke slowly builds, overpowering all.
Once within these tracks, the existential horror that the music reflects suddenly feels like it’s somehow coming from within. It’s an inescapably immersive and gripping sound, powering a sense of stormy angst with shuddering waves of physical force.
Although the music consistently feels at least broadly forward-moving, there’s also a kind of nihilism in the sound. Overall, most of the music feels like it’s emanating from a place where some kind of grand struggle has already been lost. Outside of portions including a comparatively brief moment of anguished black metal chaos around the midpoint of “Regions of a Great Heresy,” the music largely feels like an immersion into a pit of nothingness that dissolves everything around rather than active turmoil. It’s beyond a place of struggle — it’s more like exhaustive dread, put to sound.
The instrumentals themselves feel richly compelling, which helps add to the weight of the turmoil. The grandiosity makes Jacob feel like observing an ominously expansive storm that extends beyond the visible horizon in all directions. On “An Exiled King,” after minutes of bleak drones, blustery guitars begin to pick up just before the four-minute mark. Most of the music, here and elsewhere, doesn’t feel hurried along — instead, it’s bleakly grueling, jarringly dragging out the tension.
Much of the music feels at least a bit disorienting. On “An Exiled King,” shuddering riffing begins to ring out, but for a time, it’s buried by a grating tidal wave of menacingly shifting feedback. Repeated shifts in the sounds’ footing make the journey feel like a reality-blurring nightmare, because there’s a sense of existential instability. The sound delivers feelings of raw and seething menace.
There are vocals present across the grimy songs, and these vocal performances feel gripplngly maniacal. Meanwhile, “Regions of a Great Heresy” begins with more thunderous doom, and following the track’s black metal-inclined middle segment, it sinks into a hypnotic swirl of shadowy drones. “The Cockroach” feels somewhat straightforward, at least comparatively speaking, but it’s still decidedly off-kilter, like a series of slow motion sonic shocks. The latter half of the track is full of searing black metal riddled with feedback.
Ultimately, the music feels a bit otherworldly, but it’s consistently gripping, like a solitary journey into a void.
Listen to Jacob from Ehnahre and N below! It’s available via Glossolalia Records.