ENOCH ROOT: "What I intended to use as inspiration fit the character so well I just decided to embrace the new technology and run with it"

Who's up for some short Mostly Metal statistics? This year already writes some interesting numbers actually... While working on this interview, I realised that all of my current Top5 records are debuts, two of them come from the USA, and with this new entry all five now joined our musical journey around the world, for which I'm really grateful. 


The band around mastermind Reese Ortenberg released their marvelous, first album "Delusion" on February 19th, offering a real gem for prog-lovers, and you're welcome to join me on another trip to New York to dive into the world of ENOCH ROOT

Hey, thanks for making time to answer my questions. How are you today?

Absolutely! Thank you so much for having me. I’ve been very well, keeping busy and all that!

Could you please introduce yourself and Enoch Root to our readers?

My name is Reese Ortenberg, and I am the man behind Enoch Root, my newest project for all of the songs I’ve written over the years and the music I will continue to write.

Congrats to the release of your incredible debut. How do you feel about it, and
how was the reception so far?

Thank you so much! This release has been a long time coming, and I’m so overjoyed that this album is finally out. The majority of this record was actually written back when I was 17 (so about 5 years prior to release), and I made it my senior project to finish and release this record. The reception so far has been incredible, and I am so thankful for everyone who has taken the time to listen to the music I’ve worked so hard on.

Absolutely well deserved :-) Let’s take a look at the mystical cover artwork: What can you tell us about its origins, and how does it reflect “Delusion” thematically?

So the album cover is a very interesting story actually. I was struggling with the visual side of how I wanted to portray this music. The visual aspect of art has always been difficult for me, so to get some inspiration I used an AI art program I stumbled upon close to the start of when this whole AI craze began. I wanted to let the AI use as much of its ‘imagination’ as possible, so I only gave it the keywords “Delusional Scavenger” (in relation to the album's plot), and out popped the image you know as the cover.

What I intended to use as inspiration fit the character so well I just decided to embrace the new technology and run with it. The uncanny valley that is created by the AI also ties into the themes and messages of the story of the album, so in my eyes it ended up working really well.

It does absolutely. Could you dive a bit into the album’s story with us, please?

So this one is a bit of a doozy, but I’ll try to be as concise as possible. I woke up one night from a very vivid dream that was so incredibly detailed that I was able to jot out a quick paragraph of the idea on my phone before being unceremoniously whisked back to unconsciousness. 

“The Scavenger” starts our story with this newly wed, young, and superstitious couple expecting their firstborn. They go to a fortune teller over concerns about starting a family, who tells them that their son will bring misfortune to everyone and suffering into the world. The couple is horrified, but are too far along to do anything except bring the child into the world and lock him in a room, with no contact to the outside world and only a small window. 

For the next 18 years, this child is stuck in his own allegorical plato’s cave. One day, he gets just curious enough to climb up to the window and look outside, and has his AHA moment - He decides it’s time to leave.

“Top Of The World” and “Where It All Went Wrong” details the child (The Scavenger) experiencing the world for the first time, seeing how beautiful and terrifying everything is, and coming into contact with the first other person he has ever seen. To us she would seem like a normal woman, but to him she is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen, and attaches a ‘god-like’ image to her. He tries to communicate how he feels, but can’t because he has never learned how to speak. The woman (understandably) is terrified and runs away. The Scavenger is left distraught and escapes to the underground where he can exist peacefully.

The story then does a little time shifting, and we experience different interactions between The Scavenger and the woman over the next couple of days. The actual order of events in song order are “Sanctuary”, “Domino”, “Duplicity”, “Delusion”, “Grey”, and “Repose”. At some point, The Scavenger is wandering (as he does), and comes across the woman in an altercation with her significant other. She storms off and runs into her apartment, and The Scavenger is furious that someone could do this to his angel. 

He then finds the apartment, scales the fire escape and looks through every window until he finds her. In his mind, the outside world is too dangerous for her and he must bring her to where it is safe. He kidnaps her, takes her to where he has been staying, and tries to convey that he just wants to protect her. They get into a physical altercation, and unaware of his own strength and the fact that injury and death exist, he accidently kills her. He is so distraught that he runs outside, screaming his head off until he is promptly arrested. The story ends with our Scavenger being put on death row, and as he is strapped to the chair, everything becomes clear to him and he is peaceful in the end, knowing he and the woman will be reunited after death. 

This tragic story hit me so hard in a dream that I had to make an album about it. There are a lot of themes and things I could talk about for days with this record and story, but I’ll save some of it for another time.

A very tragic plot indeed, especially as it's mostly told from The Scavengers perspective. Your kind of musical storytelling is just mesmerizing, coming along atmospheric and intense, with marvelous melodies and a wonderful variety. What is your musical background, and where do you draw your inspiration from?

Some of my favorite bands are Haken, Porcupine Tree, Leprous, and The Dear Hunter. All of which are very thematic and conceptual in nature, and that style of writing absolutely leached into my writing process. I started playing guitar at 6, bass at 7, and writing music at 11. My parents are immense music appreciators, so I was constantly exposed to all sorts of music from all different genres.

Could you briefly describe your writing / recording process, please?

Once I had the dream that led to the album's themes, I sat down at my desk and just started writing. I let the ideas just flow out of me with no regard for rules or regulations, which lead to some pretty interesting song structures. This was also at the same time as I was writing my double progressive-metal album “The Digression Theory”, so it was just constant musical vomit. 

That summer I wrote 3 albums worth of music in 3 months. I usually come up with a riff or chord progression on my guitar and then make a drum beat to match, get a song form, make a bass part, keyboards and stuff, add vocals and all the extra bits and bobs, and BOOM you have a song.

This sounds so easy in your words... But that's highly impressive! Let's take a look at Enoch Root's history: When and how did you guys get together?

We’ve actually only been a band for a little over a year. The band consists of some of my closest friends and incredibly talented musical colleagues. They are Joe Degregory on drums, Michael Golub on keys and box, Andrew Golub on bass, and Jared Auslander on guitar. These guys make this music possible to play live, and I am unbelievably thankful for them believing in my music.

How did you come up with your band’s name, and is there a deeper meaning behind “Enoch Root” for you?

Enoch Root is actually a character from a few books by Sci-Fi author Neil Stephenson. About 2 years ago I went down an audiobook rabbit hole and read almost all of his books almost exclusively for a year or so. His existence in the books as a character is never explained or justified, but he's in those multiple books outside of time. His character exists in the 1600’s, and also in the mix 2010’s. I think his existence beyond the main stories resonates with my music because it doesn’t exist within a singular genre. I don’t want my music to be limited by a few words or a genre.

That's awesome :-) Let’s talk about Enoch Root live: What was your most memorable show so far?

So far we’ve only played a couple shows, but the album release party / show was an incredibly memorable experience. This music is so much fun to perform live, and I can’t wait to play more shows.

How would you describe your local rock / metal scene, and is there anything special about it? Did you notice changes over the recent years?

I’m just recently becoming re-acclimated to the local NYC / Long Island rock / metal scene. I lived in Miami for 4 years while I was in my undergrad, so I was outside of the NY scene for a bit. Once I came back I noticed that the circuit of bands has completely changed, so it’ll take some time for me to fully understand the new scene I find myself in.

Seems as there is a lot to discover right now. As an independent band: What are your experiences with today’s music business regarding the biggest chances and challenges?

The music business is the wild, wild west. As an independent band, everything is self-financed and self-organized, which makes finding shows, merch, promotion, and everything else more difficult. All we can do is keep our heads down and keep working towards our goals and aspirations. 

Totally get that. So what can you tell us about your future plans?

I want to take Enoch on the road and continue to write and release music. This band is my musical outlet with absolutely no rules or justifications, and I have over 25 songs ready to be recorded and released, so it’s just a matter of time and putting in the work. I can’t wait to see what this band will become.

Sounds highly promising for me :-) Before we wrap things up, do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?

I’d just like to personally thank everyone who has taken the time to listen to my music. It really is a labor of love, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. We have plenty of music on the way, and I hope you’ll continue to believe in this music the same way that I do.


That's awesome! Thanks again for your time and these amazing insights into your work. All the best for you and your musical plans. 

And for those being curious about the other four bands mentioned in the introduction, you can find the interviews here: 

The Anchoret