Progressive music is an inherently strange beast to tackle. For one thing, there’s no direct reference or starting point for it since it doesn’t really qualify as its own subgenre. Counter to other tags that are regularly found at the bottom of a Bandcamp page, “progressive” is more of a modifier on other genres than a distinct whole. What would happen if I asked you to tell me about progressive music? You could share your thoughts on King Crimson and the heyday of 70s prog rock; or you could start talking about Blood Incantation’s spacey death metal. Neither would be an inappropriate start to the conversation. There’s no defining guitar tone, vocal approach or lyrical subject matter that immediately lets you know the music you’re listening to is progressive. The signature element of this beloved modifier is, instead, simply a penchant for experimentation and desire to stretch the boundaries of clearly established genre tropes.
These four Norwegians formed in 2012 and have spent the last eight years fastidiously working away at perfecting this excellent release. They believe in their product so much that in the face of the pandemic limiting their record label options, they have chosen to self-release Another Green Drought for the world to hear – label support and distribution be damned!
The genre root that Enrapture aims to turn into a more exotic flower is post-metal. While the typical trappings of post appear, it rarely delves into the more dramatic exploratory stretches your average Neurisis clone revels in. These guitars whirl and crunch more often than meander or slowly strum. The drums live to pound rather than be lightly tickled for atmospheric effect. The vocals, whether harsh or clean, are never content to stick to one approach and instead provide a great variety to match the music behind them. This isn’t an album that aims for slow builds toward a dramatic finish in an open environment, but one that relentlessly drives forward with the foot only coming off the gas occasionally for brief taps on the brake to give the rider relief from tempo fatigue. And, quite frankly, the car for this little road trip is a low-rider because some sections straight up bounce.
The influences are not always what you would immediately associate with a progressive post-metal band either. Opener “Badlands” offers some slow-chugging, crunchy riffs out of the Yob playbook. “Floodwaters and the Desert” boasts clean singing and elements that offer Nordic pomp, not unlike their fellow countrymen in Enslaved. Instrumental “MALSTROM” riffs on some downtrodden rock that would make the boys in Failure smile. Much of “Pillars in the Dust Cloud” resides in a pseudo-industrial repeated guitar part coupled with subtle tremolo riffs that bring to mind the likes of Schammasch or Blut Aus Nord. At no point, however, do any of these referential parts feel out of place for the songs and sounds that Enrapture has created.
One of the greatest strengths of Another Green Drought is the pacing. While four of the songs fall into the 7-to-9-minute range, two brief instrumentals and two songs that cut out the extra fuss to just rock are there to balance them out. Enrapture start the album with swelling dissonance and chugging riffs during the first song; some of it’s heaviest and darkest moments in the second; Then offer some reprieve with a primarily acoustic instrumental before cutting back into the longest two-song stretch of the album. They also wisely bookend the album with their two most straightforward songs allowing you to be hooked on strong riffs and sent off on an absolute headbanger after sitting with their longer material in the middle.
The more directly experimental elements are of a subtler and sparsely used persuasion. The most obvious example would be the twangy cowboy guitar part that crops up late in “Groundswells.” It would be nice to see them incorporate more of these types of twists into the album throughout. Enrapture is so adept at incorporating them, that a few more similar oddities would offer extra dynamics without distracting from the power of their songs.
Has Enrapture created a type of progressive music that’s so unique they’ll leave all their peers in the dust? Certainly not, but they offer a dynamic listen that pulls subtle elements from many corners and turns them into their own sound. Another Green Drought is a great first album that covers significant ground, always feels shorter than its runtime and has great repeat value. What more can you really ask for?