Post-rock has predictably reached its stage of full saturation, becoming the self-loathing cliché that wasn't hard to see coming. Bands are unfairly and mockingly compared to Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, and This Will Destroy You, whose stranglehold over the genre have made them a benchmark for those that follow suit and a constant reminder of the jadedness of the post-rock complex.
For the past four years, Gifts from Enola have tried to ignore those comparisons, and perhaps tear down the walls they have created. The band's 2006 debut, Loyal Eyes Betrayed the Mind, was evidence that the group had no desire to be a complacent post-rock band brimming with false bird-on-a-wire hope. Rather, that optimism - a barrier and gimmick the genre has tried to lean on - was pulverized, built back up, and then sonically destroyed again.
From Fathoms, which has been meticulously tweaked and worked on for the past two years, is the mature and natural follow-up to the band's 2006 debut. Drawing on influences as diverse as Botch, Deftones, and Converge as much as their post-rock contemporaries, From Fathoms is a journey directly into the depths of unspoken pathos and Paleolithic barbarism.
Opening with an ambient guitar and shaking cymbols and ending with harmonious and hopeful shouts to heaven seven songs later, From Fathoms plays end to end almost seamlessly.
While Gifts From Enola incorporates two guitar players on From Fathoms (a third was added after the recording), a bass player and a drummer, their arsenal of sound and noise is unrelenting and daunting. As the conclusion of one song bleeds into the next, it coagulates into something substantial before flowing elsewhere. "Weightless Frame" turns a dying symbol smash into a lonesome harmonica as the song fades to a wall of noise, until the next song, "Weightless Thought," opens with an alarm clock and completely new tempo.
From Fathoms is full of moments of inspiration and beauty, most notably in "Melted Wings," as the ethereal tapping of drum sticks and airy chords toy with climax until the sky eventually opens up. However, Gifts From Enola are at their best when their music unleashes pent up hell vocals muddled and yelled to complete oblivion, bass and guitar forming an uncontested cataclysm. "Trieste" waits six minutes before exploding into the most terrifying and deafening wall of sound on the album, and although the band can rely too heavily on primitively smashing on cymbals, their capability of destruction is thoroughly impressive.
At its core, From Fathoms is an album of past regrets and frustrations being exorcised and washed away, with the realization that tomorrow brings change. As the post-rock machine rusts and crumbles under its own weight, that change is necessary. From Fathoms has taken the genre and redefined it, pushing boundaries and setting new precedents for what post-rock can accomplish it in the future.