Review | Brzowski – Enmityville

Review | Brzowski – Enmityville

Brzowski explores the theme of hostile opposition through an intricate blend of rap and metal with a industrial synth influence.

The very title of the album ‘Enmityville’ alludes to a theme of hostility and opposition. This is progressive music built on the foundations of metal aggression, hip-hop poetry, ’90s industrial synth sentiment and surprising bursts of pop sensibility. ‘Enmityville’ is Brzowski’s third full-length solo release.

The Portland based emcee tackles serious contemporary societal issues in his lyrics. Commercialism, consumerism, unrealistic expectations of beauty, gentrification and digital alienation are critiqued. His approach is described as ‘a bridge between the painfully personal and the outwardly political’. The struggle of the artist in an age of sanctimony forms a recurring theme throughout the release.

Vocally, Brzowski’s lyrics are charged with confident defiance. Where verses are fast paced – like opening track ‘Masking Fluid and Painter’s Tape’ – vocals are delivered clearly and precisely. The same applies when the tempo is dialed down, but with a greater intensity found in each syllable. Sung choruses showcase Brzowski’s voice in a different way. A ’90s era metal influence breaks through.

Standout Track: Demonic Exercises

Catchy vocal hooks come as a surprise departure from a primarily low-key release. Standout track, ‘Demonic Exercises’, exhibits unexpected pop sensibilities in the hook, and is driven by a wandering bassline with pleasing key changes. Musically it’s an uncharacteristically looser sounding song to the rest of the album. Splashy cymbals and high-hats provide a jazz-like intro that temper to act as punctuation throughout.

As catchy as some tracks are, the underlying tone is bleak. Evidence of this is evident in the first video from the album for the track ‘Leave it all Behind’.

Where bleak sentiment and pop sensibilities collide you’re left with the distinctly doom / industrial synth influenced ‘So I Walk’, which instantly reminded me of the existence of Type O Negative, the New York doom / goth metal band who rose to prominence in the early to mid-nineties via MTV 2. Whilst the track is unique on the album as one that isn’t rap led, it is strangely compelling. Like a pop song on horse tranquilizers.

‘Enmityville’ is a unique beast of an album. Powerful, rebellious, defiant and drawing on many contrasting influences. Yet somehow bringing them together as a singular entity.

It is bleak and it does at times lack an obvious dynamism in its low-key presentation. But Brzowski does deliver an album that contains many surprises in its various layers and draws on the best elements of its many components. Most importantly it delivers a strong message with integrity and meaning.

‘Enmityville’ is available now to download now from Brzowski’s bandcamp page. CDs and other merchandise options are also available.

Metal aggression, hip-hop poetry, industrial synth influences and pop sensibilities. A strangely compelling bastard of an album. 4/5

About Brzowski | After 14 years of scene-building in Portland, Maine as an mc and banner-guard for Milled Pavement Records, 8 years of touring throughout 5 countries (most recently France, Germany, and Switzerland (January ’15) with Milled Pavement’s Monsieur Sai+Arth? and FakeFour Inc’s DJ Halo), over 800 performances, 2 critically acclaimed albums, 3 mixtapes, 4 EPs, 3 7″ singles, countless featured appearances, and performing live with a venerable who’s-who of independent hip-hop, BRZOWSKI is throwing down the gauntlet with all the desperation of a man on the edge.

Will Harrison

About the author | Will Harrison

Founder of The Unheard Nerd. A husband and father of two girls, Will is a fan of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, a comics fiend, a podcast host and champion of independent nerd culture. | Follow will on twitter: @TheUnheardNerd