Thy diabolical parade

Dayton one-man metal project Enoonmai wields The Witches’ Hammer

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Jake Koch, one-man metal project Enoonmai

 

One-man black metal projects are hardly a new thing. Artists such as Burzum, Xasthur, Leviathan and countless others have chosen to eschew putting up with other band members and performing live in favor of concentrating on their craft and putting artistic touches to their recordings, undiluted by the participation of other musicians. This certainly seems to be the case with local one-man black metal project Enoonmai. Based in Fairborn, Enoonmai is the brainchild of guitarist Jake Koch. He earned his chops playing guitar in local cover bands, which eventually led to him playing in a slew of local death/black metal ensembles, such as Darkness Undying and Bringers of Disease, in the late 2000s. Koch explains these experiences led to his decision to create a singular entity to embrace his unfiltered musical and artistic ambitions.

“I finally realized that I can’t keep playing in cover bands,” Koch said. “I don’t care if there’s no money to be made or if the crowds will be smaller. I have to play what I love. I decided that if I can’t get anything done in these bands, I’m going to do it myself. That’s when I conjured Enoonmai.”

Shortly afterward, Koch wrote, recorded and, in 2013, released the first Enoonmai album, Brushed by the Wings of Pazuzu. True to the predecessors of one-man black metal, Koch provided vocals and played every instrument on the record except for, as a matter of convenience, drums. Just a few months ago, Koch issued his second full length Enoonmai album, entitled The Witches’ Hammer, a concept album about the Inquisitions of the 12th and 13th centuries. Those expecting a lo-fi, tape-hiss laden cacophony of poorly recorded guitars and buried vocals stereotypical of underground black metal are definitely in for a surprise.

The album begins with cinematic sound effects and creepy chanting before the first actual song “Kill Yourself for Satan” comes blasting out of the speakers. Jackhammer blast beats and a melee of nasty, tremelo-picked guitar chords burst into the air breathing an audio hellfire. Speaking of unholy, calling the lyrics to most of the songs on The Witches’ Hammer unholy is a severe understatement. The words to the songs read like diatribes of downright evil intentions, and Koch delivers his blackened sermons as if he were possessed by the devil himself.

From there, the album takes many twists and turns, often trading in the speed and impending black metal mayhem for acoustic and faux-orchestral segues, allowing the listener to catch their breath just long enough before the next epic metal battle is waged on his or her ears and psyche.

“[Enoonmai] gave me the opportunity to really be a composer and not just a headbanger,” Koch said. “[I] used a program called Philharmonic Miroslav [Miroslav Philharmonik] to compose orchestrated parts. I would write melody lines and counter melodies on my guitar, come to the studio and say, ‘I want violins playing this part and cellos playing this part, and organs playing this part’ and create these awesome orchestrated parts to accompany these layers of guitars. I couldn’t do that with any of the bands I was in.”

When taken as a whole, The Witches’ Hammer plays out like a movie soundtrack, constructed and composed as a specific sonic vision with the artistic integrity most of the record-buying public doesn’t typically associate with guys like Koch and other artistically-minded metal musicians, even when they are doing everything themselves and creating records that really push the envelope. Koch even managed to weave in select horror movie samples to further illustrate the concept of the record as a motion picture told through sound.

“I am a huge horror movie fan and I wanted to use samples tastefully to bring across the right atmosphere and paint the horrific pictures in the listeners’ minds,” Koch said. “The album is about the Inquisitions. So, in the right places, you will hear screams of women being tried, tortured or burned at the stake. It helps what the music is about.”

Speaking of the Inquisitions, the lavish CD package of The Witches’ Hammer includes both a short synopsis of the history of the Inquisitions from the time period depicted in the songs and a diagram that shows the torture devices used during the Inquisitions and how they worked. While it is not a rare commodity in heavy metal, it is always neat to hear an album that lets you headbang to it and, at the same time, get a history lesson. Generally speaking, however, Enoonmai’s music is about Koch’s personal battle with religion in his own life and the world around him.

“My whole life I’ve been persecuted by Christians,” Koch said. “I was always being told I was going to burn in hell by someone. Literally since childhood I’ve had to defend myself from these judges because of my love for music. The Witches’ Hammer is not only about the Inquisitions but my war against Christianity. When reading about the history of the world I can’t possibly conclude that Christianity is truth and the way. So, retelling this story is one way of fighting back for all who have been persecuted by this horrible disease – and yes, [Christianity] is a disease for it has killed enough to be called one.”

For more information, please visit reverbnation.com/enoonmai. Enoonmai’s The Witches’ Hammer is available for purchase from Death Rot Productions at deathrotproductions.storenvy.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.Page

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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