Tools of Nostalgia
Paul D’Amour, the original bassist from the legendary Tool, is about to unleash his solo project Feersum Ennjin on the general public like a sneak attack. After his departure from that band post-Aenima, D’Amour dabbled in the band Lusk with former Guns N’ Roses and Autolux members, as well as in film scoring, before finding his feet with his own singing and songwriting. Thus Feersum Ennjin was born.
From the album’s first guitar chords and the rolling, dark bassline in “Fishing Grounds,” it’s instantly apparent where D’Amour’s credentials lie. This isn’t just borrowing from Tool here and there. It’s about an overall feeling of 90’s nostalgia, from the way the songs are broken down, to the echoing, breathy sound of D’Amour’s voice. It places the listeners back in high school, staring at the posters on their ceiling. It’s harrowing yet familiar, a beaten path that doesn’t get revisited all too often these days.
Tracks like “The Wilderness,” “Dragon” and “U-Boats” are adept at combining that deep, uncomfortable push and pull of melody and grit, energy and depression. Meanwhile, slower, more driven songs like the epic “Solid Gold” provide a straightforward approach. But just as many of the tracks evoke a range of responses in the listener (melancholy, hope, defeat), there are more than a few that end up just being mediocre. Good enough, but not great.
There’s a bit of a juvenile, whiny tone to the vocals which some listeners may find endearing and others may find grating. At times the effect can make the effort seem amateur. However the overall quality of songwriting and complexity of the compositions (particularly when they run on the dark and somber side) make Feersum Ennjin a worthwhile play for any rock/metal listener to enjoy alone with a bottle of beer (perhaps while staring at music posters on the ceiling).