Posted on August 14th, 2015 (2:00 pm) by Magdalene Taylor

When I first listened to Enabler’s new album, Fail To Feel Safe, I was confronted by a few things: its aggression, its hypermasculinity, its simplistic nihilism. I immediately felt tired of this album on this basis alone. Metal and its subgenres are absorbed by this kind of artistic violence, recirculating it through many down-tuned guitar riffs and the inked angst of a young white male vocalist. Some metal avoids this completely, and some metal utilizes violence in a more clever, more artistically worthy form - my previous review of Cattle Decapitation’s The Anthropocene Extinction shows that violent content can have merit. But as a critically-minded person who listens to metal, and more specifically as a critically-minded woman who listens to metal, the type of violence that centers around the male ego is simply exhausting. I wrote off Fail to Feel Safe as predictable and overdone.

Then, I caught word of the circumstances surrounding the album. The former bassist of Enabler, Amanda Daniels, released a statement on July 10th on her Tumblr page detailing the abuses committed against her by Enabler frontman and ex-boyfriend Jeff Lohrber. In this statement Daniels details the physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse she endured at the hand of Lohrber during the six years of their relationship and the time following their breakup. It is neither my wish nor my place to analyze or dissect her words, but instead I will hold them as truth, particularly when her statements have been corroborated by others.

In addition to bravely discussing what she experienced, best said in her own words in full in the statement, Daniels highlights how Fail To Feel Safe directly relates to these experiences. As Lohrber had stated in previous press releases for the album, the lyrics he wrote for the album were supposedly about the hardship he experienced following the breakup and the process of rebuilding his life. However, Daniels puts these claims in a different light: “If you are writing lyrics to help people and hope someone may be able to relate perhaps you should be clear in who your target audience is, for only a certain kind of person can relate to your specific brand of personal suffering. Adulterous, manipulators, perverse and predatory sexual molesters, anger ridden abusers, purveyors of violence against women, liers and rapists, to name a few.”

With this in mind, how can Fail To Feel Safe possibly be understood outside of this context? I’ve seen multiple reviewers of the album claim that they are going to remain ”professional” about the matter and only focus on the music, while many sites have remained silent alltogether. These people do a gross injustice not just to Daniels but to metal as a whole. This album is the “woe is me” voice of an abuser, the meaningless complaints of a voice unnecessary but consistently the one overshadowing others. This violently egotistical voice is one we hear everywhere, and it has gone stale. Metal has no room to regurgitate it once more. The tones of this are present in the album itself, and even in a vacuum Fail To Feel Safe just wouldn’t be any good. In its very much alive context, however, Fail To Feel Safe is not just bad - it is artless.

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