Much has been made of Milwaukee-based Enabler ever since they burst onto the hardcore scene in 2012 with All Hail the Void. Mingling thrash technicality with a convincing hardcore stomp, while featuring Adam Hurley of Fall Out Boy behind the kit helped propel the trio to the forefront of young hardcore acts who were taking the scene by storm. Yet, while the debut LP offered audiences a glimpse at the potential for greatness the band brings to the table, self-indulgent noodling and an unfocused approach to composition revealed a band still searching for a secure foothold in extreme music. After releasing a number of EPs, enlisting Adam Steigerwalt (The Ox King, Ringworm) to replace Hurley, performing at New England Metal and Hardcore Festival and Maryland Deathfest XII, as well as announcing a subsequent tour alongside EYEHATEGOD and Ringworm, Enabler seem poised to make good on the critical-hype with their second full-length, 2014’s La Fin Absolue Du Monde.
Album-opener “Close My Eyes” establishes a brisk pace within surprisingly traditional d-beat punk conventions. This, however, exudes a misleading impression of dramatically leaner songwriting; despite short run-times, much is packed into LFADM’s thirty-six minutes, and many of the songs fluctuate between generic extremes. “Information Overload” deftly exercises frantic, modern hardcore before losing much of its energy to an over-emphasized breakdown. Likewise, the toothy hardcore of “Felony” is bookended by a reverberating introduction and a moody, fading intensity that verges on melodrama. A general sense of songwriting-immaturity is evident throughout La Fin Absolue Du Monde, and is most evident on tracks “Balance of Terror” and “Linear Existence” – the former featuring buried-to-the-point-of-incomprehension singing provided by bassist Amanda Daniels, the latter recalling metalcore of the mid-2000s unfitting of a band so widely regarded as part of the vanguard of extreme musicianship. What is perhaps most disappointing about La Fin Absolue Du Monde is not that the album is generally underwhelming, but that there are songs of pure brilliance that allude to a profound yet untapped potential for angst and catharsis. The aforementioned “Close My Eyes” serves as an adept practice of d-beat punk aesthetics worthy of praise from fans of Tragedy and Disfear. However the best moments on LFADM come during “The Exiles” and “Prey” which encapsulate the breakneck ferocity of metal with a bludgeoning heaviness of jaded hardcore. “Prey” specifically shines through as album-MVP because of the band’s cohesion during the song’s execution: drums, guitar, bass, vocals and lyrics all sync to terrifying effect, conveying a tone of literal predation. A glaring lack of more songs like these ultimately dampens the overall impact of Enabler’s efforts.
Audiences should not take my criticism of Enabler’s latest album or of their catalog overall as grounds to dismiss the group entirely. In fact, I applaud Enabler for largely acting as a gateway band by which fresh audiences are being exposed to edgier metallic subgenres. Furthermore, the individual members of the band can undeniably crush their respective instruments with the acuity of long-seasoned pros. What remains to be seen is whether or not Enabler can trim the edges of their current songwriting process and craft focused, convincing songs that deftly walk the thin lines between their multifarious influences. La Fin Absolue Du Monde, for all the hype surrounding it and its ultimate short-comings, is a step in the right direction, however small it may be.