En Masse – Alarm

En Masse

When En Masse gets loud and batters away at songs invoking worlds crashing down around you, you really want to like them. But ultimately the 5 gothic, atmospheric tracks on their Alarm EP just don’t satisfy.

The main problem is that the guitar is boring and inhibited. Like an ancient clipper ship’s ropes pulled taut and fraying under the stress of storm-battling sails, the spacey guitar themes struggle for relevance over the pummeling drums and bass.

Less can absolutely be more, but this underdeveloped guitar playing sounds ineffectual. Even after repeated listens, precious little of the material grew on me. At times it all sounded pretty amateur, which isn’t necessarily bad. But considering the pedigree these musicians have, you expect a little more.

The songs are not bad, just lacking. They have some of the goth staples that turn some on and piss others off: sludgy tempos, singers that sound bored, and the voice of a childless world.

On the EP, tracks 1 and 2, “Vollman” and “To Resonate” respectively, are good indicators of what En Masse is currently about. Track 3, “Live/Die” is the weakest song. “A Tribute”, number 4, is fairly strong – but it is also a significant departure from the other four songs in terms of style. Closing track “Ireland” is the best of the five. So check the band’s Myspace if you like Bauhaus. Otherwise, on to the next.