Not so with the Port Angeles, Wash.-based three-piece Enemymine. Culled from the ashes of Northwestern indie-grind band Godheadsilo's thundering bass and drum attack, Enemymine has created a body of stark and emotionally charged rock that diverges from the path of its torch-baring genre-mates to create a surprisingly inventive approach to heavy metal.
What began as an experiment between former Godheadsilo bassist Mike Kunka and Zak Sally, bassist for (not at all grinding) slowcore band Low -- and backed by former Mocket drummer Danny Sasaki -- Enemymine's 1998 self-titled debut release (K Records) featured a dual-bass assault that teetered between droning metal-minimalism and frenzied experimental clatter. But as this hybrid of Godheadsilo's aggressive rock and Low's mesmerizing dreaminess seemed too good to be true, Sally's interest in the band waned, and shortly after releasing a split 7-inch with Vaz (Thin the Herd Records), he returned to his hometown of Duluth, Minn., to resume duties with Low.
In the meantime, after sifting through a handful of replacement members, Enemymine settled on former Some Velvet Sidewalk bass player Ryan Baldoz to fill in for Sally. With a renewed vim and vigor, Enemymine signed on with Up Records to release The Ice in Me, a full-length recording that captures the essence of the orginal group while emoting more powerfully than before.
For this second release, Kunka and Co. forged a body of work that embraces a range of emotions and heavy metal experimentation with two basses, no guitar. The result is a drudgy, disgruntled album of material the members themselves lightheartedly refer to as "Slint Bizkit." Slint refers to the loud, soft, tight corners-rounding dynamics of the record similar to the widely influential recordings of Louisville, Ky.-based math-rock outfit Slint. Bizkit, of course, refers to the anger and finely honed intensity of these recordings, evoking imagery of disdainful, inner-city tension, not unlike Limp Bizkit.
But in recording this follow-up LP, did these heavy-handed alt-rockers do it all for the nookie? Not likely. The Slint definitely outweighs the Bizkit, as Enemymine's reference to these two unlikely influences stays true to indie rock allegiances and elasticity (like the former) and avoids plasticity and mass-market appeal (of the later).
"If for anything at all I think Enemymine will be recognized for its use of unusual time signatures and limited amount of equipment," says Kunka. "References to our music being minimal and experimental are more than likely due to the fact that we're making heavy metal music with no guitar solos, and in reality no guitars at all."
When asked about the implications of anger and youthful detachment that come along with comparing the group's second record to Limp Bizkit, Kunka shrugs it off as a product of his upbringing.
"I grew up in a town outside of Fargo, North Dakota, that had a population of 82," Kunka says. "People there hadn't ever heard music with swear words in it, or that sounded even remotely punk rock. I remember singing along to an Embrace album on a pair of headphones in the locker room when I was in high school and my basketball coach ripped my headphones off of my head and started screaming at me because of the lyrics. While these days I'm not actively writing songs to get back at my basketball coach, it's impossible not to carry that baggage with you and filter those kinds of experiences into what you're doing."
As Enemymine dredges forward, bringing emotion and ingenuity to a brave new world where machine-like perfection rules the roost, a new merger hangs in the balance. Never before have math rock's notions of precision and indie-rock credibility come face to face with the youthful disdain of the MTV generation. But in the face of adversity, the cutting edge will always change shape and give rise to new hybrids and new horizons. Enemymine's Slint Bizkit aesthetics stand proud at the forefront of metal's underground, subverting contrivance and never once flirting with mass-market antics. Like a chump!
Enemymine plays the Earl Wed., March 21. Show time is 10 p.m. For more information, call 404-522-3950.
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