When it comes to the Romanian metal scene, folk/death metal outfit E-AN-NA definitely stands out as one of the most hard-working and creative bands toiling in the underground. Founded in 2014, the band soon gained traction with some well-crafted singles, as well as the EP “Jiana” (2016), wining second place at Wacken Metal Battle 2017. In 2019, E-AN-NA released its debut album, “Nesfârşite” (“Endless”), followed by a bunch of singles in 2020. On May 24th, 2021, the band have independently released a new album, “Fascinathanatango.”
Abstract, twisted, and far-out are the keywords when it comes to E-AN-NA’s new album, tango-avantgarde experience “Fascinathanatango.” In other words, don’t expect the music to be the usual folk/death metal fare that has made the band a force to be reckoned with. This album is more likely the vision of band mastermind Andrei Oltean, but does not necessarily imply a new direction or a new sound for E-AN-NA. It presents a totally different side of the band and may just as well end up being the odd-one-out in their catalog. Imagine how it would have been if WITHIN TEMPTATION had released Sharon den Adel’s “My Indigo” – a good album in itself, but not the band’s style – as one of their own albums. So, if this is your first encounter with the band, don’t judge or discard E-AN-NA by these songs.
Moving away from their metal roots and into new territories, the idea with “Fascinathanatango” was to do “tango in the style of Astor Piazzolla,” as the band stated on their social media pages. Consequently, eleven of the twelve songs that constitute the album are instrumentals that sway between cinematic and grand in scope to jazzy and upbeat. Released as a first single, “Antagonistango” already showcases this mix of various instruments into one interesting piece of music. The instruments trade place in the spotlight, from flute to accordion to electric guitar, with a lot going on in the background, all the while maintaining a folky undertone. Opening track, “Contrango,” has some contrasting qualities to it, as the name suggests, transitioning from melodic and groovy into powerful and robust. The sharp violin accents are what give this track flavor and bring to mind the intensity of LED ZEPPELIN’s “Kashmir.” Leaning more towards jazzy are “Muntango” and “Microtango,” upbeat tracks with cool piano melodies that hold everything together.
Despite its up-tempo rhythm, “Scriptango” has such a neat cinematic nature coming from the backing strings and orchestrations. However, the most cinematic cut is the 10-minute epic “Necrotango,” whose mid-section feels like a movie score, growing in intensity with grave bass lines and violin melodies. An ominous feeling creeps along with the darker undertones of “Mortango” while the crescendo in the final minute is masterfully done. The title track seems to unite the grandiose feels of the aforementioned tracks with the groovier tempo of the first few songs in one coherent unit, and it does so fairly successfully. The only track to contain some voices is “Nimic” (“Nothing”), where lead singer Andrei Oltean almost shouts the lyrics over a calmer voice repeating “nimic” in an upsurge of emotion; these lyrics actually explain the concept of the album and tie in with the artwork. The song talks about “an old man rising and burning away with all he has left dear in life: his own sacred space of creation” as per the band’s explanation, which makes for a compelling topic to put into music.
Contrast and dynamism are the driving forces of this album, as the instruments are overlaid in such a manner as to pull the attention in different directions. And even though there doesn’t seem to be a coherent sense of melody on either track, as the album has a lot of moving pieces to draw from, each song has a certain vibe and musicality to it. The bottom line is that great things happen when you leave your comfort zone to explore new musical avenues, and “Fascinathanatango” is proof of this. Approach it with an open mind and enjoy this tango/folk extravaganza.
Written by Andrea Crow
Andrei Oltean – vocals, bagpipes, flute
Ovidiu Ban – guitars
Paul Cristian – drums
Ioana Popescu – keyboards
Roxana Amarandi – violin
Andrei Piper – guitars
Dragos Geomolean – bass