Album Review: Shambless – Menra Eneidalen
Origin: Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
Release: March, 2011
Label: Stygian Crypt Productions
Style: Symphonic / Atmospheric Death Metal
Shambless. That sounds terrible, like Tinky Winky’s gay friend, or a Pokémon character perhaps. But actually it’s just ‘shambles’ with an additional ‘S’.
‘Cause that’s what the band started out as, as Shambles, back in 1997. The Bulgarians do a piece of Symphonic Death Metal with a medieval / fantasy atmosphere. In their own words, they were influenced by ”early Amorphis, Haggard and even Summoning” and gained a ”cult status” in their home country. With Menra Eneidalen, first released in 2011 and now rereleased globally through Stygian Crypt, their third studio album, they deepen their lyrical and musical concepts of Elfish mythology.
Personally I think it’s a bit silly to take Elfish mythology as a starting point for music, but then again I do dig Amon Amarth’s Viking concepts. So yeah, I’m a hypocrite. Shambless’ front man – who’s actually in the rear, because he’s doing drums and vocals – is a guy nicknamed Arvelss and he’s invented an Elfish language called ‘Tura Ieagan’, which is also the language in which all the lyrics are sung. Tolkien ambitions or just way out there, I don’t know.
Anyfuck, the music is what the band calls Atmospheric Death Metal telling seven different fairy tales in seven songs. Except that only about half of the album is actually Death Metal. The rest is just simulation / programmed / keyboarded symphonic elements. And despite that the melodies aren’t always bad, it’s the album’s main weak point. Very weak in fact and for multiple reasons. Firstly, it all sounds as if keyboardist Hadelfar used a Toys ‘R’ Us keyboard and / or the first beta build of Magix Music Maker. In other words, it sounds about as real as the tits on Barbie.
Secondly, and in all fairness this may be in part also due to point number one, the symphonics lack any form of emotion. No dynamics, no dramatic volume swells, no staccatos or any proper technique. Just flat melodies from different simulated instruments. The concert flutes are worst of all. The fact then that every song has these symphonic elements oozing out then obviously doesn’t help the band.
The thing with this album seems to be that most actual Metal seems to be towards the first half of the album. So even though at first I wasn’t too impressed, at least the music was bearable due to the presence of some average-but-not-more-than-that Metal riffing and drumming. Find a sample of that above. However, as I struggled progressively more to get through, I eventually landed at the album’s closing song which, with its seventeen and a half minutes, takes up more than a quarter of the whole record. It’s titled Comendalia Inebardes Terbavemora, whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean in ‘Tura Ieagan’.
It annoys the living, flying, pulsating CRAP out of me! No guitars, no drums, no grunts. Just piss poor Toys ‘R’ Us keyboard tunes noodling about. On top of that there’s a bunch of clean vocals doing little other than “Wheeheeheeheeheeheehee, whaahaahaahaahaahaahaa, whoohoohoohoohoohoohoo” and perhaps a “laalaalaaalaaa” too; I don’t recall and I’m certainly not going through seventeen-point-five minutes of wankery again. In any case, that song at that point was the final turd to an already brim-filled bucket of shit.
In conclusion, I wouldn’t recommend Menra Eneidalen unless you live in your own little fantasy world and plan to play the record using Adlib – you know, those early Nineties PC bleepbleep things – speakers. It isn’t even the concept, really. It could’ve worked out much different. If only fifteen years in the music business had taught Shambless to invest some time and dough in some real musicians. I feel like I’m listening to the soundtrack of a fuckin’ Nintendo 8-bit game for fuck’s sake.
Right, that’s it. I’ve had it with this one. Cult status or not, these guys need to do things right or not at all.
My Grade: 2.5/10
Buy this when:
- you plan to use it as a frisbee