Jeroen De Coster – Bass & Vocals,
Stijn Witdouck – Drums,
Robin Broché – Guitars & Vocals,
Christophe De Ridder – Guitars & Vocals,
Mathieu Joyeux – Vocals.
Goodness, this record doesn’t shy away, does it? From the moment you hit play, ELEANORA are straight out of the blocks and mauling your throat. It’s certainly a tried-and-trusted approach to gaining your listener’s attention, and you can be sure that it will not waver. Yet for all the ferocity that “Amos” brings to the fore from the off, the latter third’s melodic throes makes it all the sweeter of a listen. To many, dropping a notch in tempo and bringing forth ringing arpeggios that catch the ear may be a sacrilege, but you’ll most definitely remember this opener to the band’s sophomore, ‘Mere’.
It’s an often-mentioned point (certainly around these parts) that unabashed and unchecked aggression will only go so far before it becomes just a fuzzy white noise that is barely distinguishable between tracks. Thankfully, ELEANORA know this and meld the two schools above with aplomb. “Eb” takes the former in an instrumental track of guitar-centred melancholia: slow, snaking guitar harmonies and drones mix with plodding drums for an almost funeral-like dirge that firmly sets up the barnstorming “Korre”. Yet, whilst it begins raucously with caustic screaming and double bass drumming, the chord progressions from the guitars imply a wistfulness that belies the outward aggression. That’s to say nothing of the droning, wailing middle where things break down about as much as the despair in the vocals.
However, it is the thunderous instrumental of “Samaria” and closer “Mere” where ELEANORA shine brightest. Of the former, their musicianship and production values combine to make for a compelling sonic exploration of ambience and emotion alongside chunky riffing that would make a colossus shy away. The production has a wicked edge to it befitting a band whose sound would be adversely affected by a slick and squeaky-clean master. None more so than on the almost black metal-influenced closer “Mere”, where it is steeped in atmosphere from a third of the way in that never lets up. The atmosphere? Despair amid the searching for the reason why.
ELEANORA’s sound is defined as “post-hardcore” and in many ways that’s quite right: the vocals are beyond the tough-guy hardcore bark, bearing closer resemblance to an existential throat-shredding howl, whilst the production has that punkish DIY feel to it that is a joy to experience. Yet the guitars and drums borrow elsewhere from the metal spectrum and the resulting sum of it all is an album that will leave you with a bloody nose, tinnitus and an increased sense of nihilism.
‘Mere’ may be synonymous with “small”, but this record certainly is not. It is a punishing piece of work, but one that is equally rewarding. The identification of “post-hardcore” may be a touch misleading, as it feels far more ferocious than what you would associate with that description, but then the band’s more melodic touch both softens things and ingratiates itself into the mind. If you’re not familiar with ELEANORA, then give “Mere” a listen: a blistering and bloody brilliant body of work.