There are a lot of really enjoyable metal albums that sound recorded off the cuff, as if they were trying to channel a burst of creative energy or anger that they were able to turn into a palpable album. And that can result in some really awesome chaos. But there remains an art to meticulously putting together and playing songs so that musicianship still has a place at the table. You don’t have to court the weirdo prog audience to do this either.
The level of skill and musical execution are just two of things that make Anagnorisis‘ latest album so much fun to hear. It’s savage and violent and cascading, yes, all important tenets of a pulverizing metal album, but these guys also have their shit together musically, which only helps this six track, two-movement album “Beyond All Light” work as well as it should. From the moment the record begins, you’re overtaken by their power and majesty, and you don’t even need to be half-paying attention to realize how good these guys are as players. While black metal is their base, and they play it well, they incorporate death and power as well, proving they’re not only bloodthirsty but totally capable of pulling off just about everything. Oh, and in case you’re skeptical from what I’ve said so far, no, this isn’t a band concerned with musical wankery. That shit’s absent. They’re just a really good, really powerful band, and their music is razor sharp.
Anagnorisis actually started out as a project by the great Austin Lunn (Panopticon), who was a major part of their debut record, 2007’s “Overton Trees,” as a writer, guitarist, and vocalist. But he moved on the following year, and the rest of the band carried on with renewed purpose, releasing their “Alpha and Omega” EP in 2009, and their “Ghost of Our Fathers” EP last year. Today’s lineup finds Zachary Kerr on vocals (he formerly handled bass), Zak Denham on guitars, Josh Mumford on bass, Chris Smith on drums, and Samuel Hartman on keys. Sure, losing Lunn would seem like a devastating loss for any band, but these guys not only overcame his departure, but they turned into a meatier, hungrier animal since then and are doing a damn fine job laying the first path on their way toward a legacy. If you like adventure and musical power in your black metal (hey, Emperor weren’t exactly slouches in those categories, and there are some serious comparisons to them), you’ll love this.
Part I of this album opens with “Eulerian Path,” a weird, wooshy, misty song that makes you feel like you’re lost in the woods for the first portion. But hang on. The song then explodes like a bomb, with strong melodic black metal blasting through. Savage, thorny mashing delivers the proper amount of fury, and it’s quite an introduction to this effort. “This Cursed Blood” starts off with some fluttery riffs and then meets up with more devastating vocals (Kerr’s voice is a high point on this record because he always sounds on the verge of lacerating his vocal chords), and the chaos turns into raw, end-of-the-world fodder that practically promises to rip the planet apart. “Death Mimics Life” brings the first triptych to a close with a helping of drone and the song slipping out from the shadows, with Kerr howling, “I carry the torch you left behind!” There’s a strong sense of classic metal glory and chugging wildness that brings this portion to a killer end.
“Abyss” brings you into Part II with weird, mechanical noises that get drowned out by penetrating noise. The song hits its gear, Kerr unleashes hell, and the song eventually goes into a mystical, slow-driving pace. “Bountiful Godless Life” (a theme of the record) has a bouncy little riff and sounds downright poppy at times (in a good way), and it gives way to dramatic, synth-driven black metal that brings to mind those aforementioned Emperor references, as well as early Dimmu Borgir before they want to Disney hell. “Everything I know is dead and gone,” Kerr screams as the song bleeds into closer “Forever Night.” The clean moody intro blends into a post-punk-style melody that eventually gets ground into bits. Kerr offers up more raspy shrieks, piano notes drop and drench the ground, and the song ends on an emotional high so surging, you practically beg for a seventh song. You don’t get one, but there’s something to leaving the listeners wanting more. And I certainly do.
Anagnorisis have been through a lot of changes since they got started, but they really seem like they’re about to explode and become a serious force. “Beyond All Light” is an astonishing, powerful piece of work, one that should thrill the biggest classic death and black metal fans among us and even could be a great bridge for those who have sampled metal’s underground periphery but would like the dig a little deeper. These guys are great players, a formidable band, and should have their best days ahead of them.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.anagnorisis.com/blog/
To buy the album, go here: http://music.anagnorisis.com/album/beyond-all-light