'Ensom'- Parting Gift / Turned Up Louder
Atmospheric, haunting and experimental- three words that appear to be defining the direction for much of the young bands in the UK’s ever-growing post-hardcore scene. One band who have taken those descriptors in their stride with their latest EP ‘Ensom’ are Manchester quartet Parting Gift, and they have been making sizeable waves for themselves as a result. Having already played across the UK and Europe with everyone from pop punkers Neck Deep to metal maestros Blood Youth, and with more tours including a slot at Download Festival lined up for the coming months, ‘Ensom’ hails the beginning of a new era for this young band. A distortion-heavy record that boasts a distinctly evocative atmosphere from the off, this record is every bit as intriguing as it is shrouded in obscurity.
Opening with lead single ‘Pale’, the melancholy mist that flows through this EP comes immediately to the fore and does not dissipate throughout the entire record. However, it is offset with a forceful sting created by the opening wall of pummelling guitars, with the raucous drums crashing at its centre, pounding like hailstones to drive the track along. Layered over the top of this gravelly mixture, the soaring, ethereal vocals float languidly, with the echoing bridge bubbling up through the slithering guitars.
Following on from the opener, however, some of that spark seems to be lost, swaddled and extinguished by the haunting blanket of grey mist that pervades the record. Layers of distortion encircle the lonesome opening guitars of ‘3:07 (Moonlight)’, its softly swaying melody making it the perfect companion to the small hours of misty winter nights. Yet while the track ebbs and flows, it doesn’t build quite as much as one might have hoped, though the strained final vocal notes do add a touch of potency to its whispering tail end. Similarly, ‘Cold’ appears to be climbing slowly towards a crescendo that sadly never makes an appearance, with the softly droning guitars and ethereal vocals at times barely discernible amongst the gloom. Though it perhaps leaves a little to be desired, it is undoubtedly highly atmospheric and chilling, from the cool wind that haunts the opening notes to the last moaning guitar note that is stretched almost to breaking point like finely woven sugar. The light sprinkling of more upbeat, tingling guitar notes that flavour ‘Without Sin’, however, thankfully manage to elevate this track somewhat, providing a welcome contrast to the hazy vocals in the verses. One almost gets the impression of ‘Without Sin’ as a song half-formed from the mist: in the choruses, it is able to pull itself free fully, boasting spiralling vocals and a punchy kick drum that gives the faded guitars a solid foundation over which to float, yet it is always pulled just back from the brink, back into the ether in the lulls between each new verse- a caged bird almost freed, yet still enslaved by the suffocating vapour that surrounds it.
It is only with closer ‘Ensom’ that, at last, the pace of the guitars makes its welcome return. As with much of the record, the drums take centre stage in the verses, punching holes in vocalist Zac Vernon’spotent lyricism and slowly ascending vocals. The swoop into the chorus brings a delightful flicker of bite, reflected in the low, grungy grizzling of the bass in the bridge, with the building of the rolling drums into the final chorus pitching you along like a hook behind your navel. However, one can’t help but feel that that grabbing upswing could have been used to greater effect, as the burst of heat and energy fades disappointingly quickly back into the cerebral fog. Despite this, one of the record’s most glittering moments comes in the track’s closing notes, with the soft birdsong woven amongst the record’s dying embers, bringing with it the promise of spring: a subtly beautiful ending that pulls you out of the dark maelstrom of this record’s dark, swirling void of inner turmoil, planting the seeds of hope for brighter days ahead.
It is evident that ‘Ensom’s highlights come in its singles, which best showcase the subtle nuances of light and shade that this band are capable of producing. While the claustrophobic obscurity of this record’s atmosphere does reflect the ‘darkest of dreams and visions’ that inspired its creation, at times it risks teetering over into being a touch too dense and impenetrable. However, Parting Gift’s ability to create an ether that permeates their work is undeniable and promises much more yet to come in this young band’s highly promising future.
'Ensom' is due for release on March 22nd via Fearless Records.
Check out the video for the band's latest single, 'Without Sin', below:
Parting Gift have a packed tour schedule ahead of them this year- dates can be found below:
(^ WITH DREAM STATE) March 2019 28th Reading - Face Bar^ 29th Tunbridge Wells - Forum^
April 2019 1st Guildford - Boileroom^ 2nd Oxford - Bullingdon^ 3rd Peterborough - Met Lounge^ 4th Birmingham - Flapper^ 6th Blackpool - Bootleg Social ^ 7th Manchester - Deaf Institute ^ 12th Newcastle - Think Tank^ 14th Leeds - Key Club^ 15th Hull - Welly^ 16th Nottingham - Rock City Basement^ 17th London - Underworld^ 19th Norwich - Waterfront Studio^ 20th Milton Keynes - Craufurd Arms^ 21st Brighton - Hope & Ruin^ 22nd Cardiff - Clwb Ifor Bach^
May 2019 3rd - Dorset - Teddy Rocks Festival 5th - Leicester - Handmade Festival
June 2019 15th - Download Festival