PICK OF THE WEEK: Anguish’s odd storytelling, wretched doom hit a high point with ‘Mountain’

AnguishMetal has had its share of great storytellers over the years, people who not only have created powerful music but whose lyrics and delivery have made up an important part of history. We’re talking people like King Diamond, Ronnie James Dio, and Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, who doesn’t offer his takes vocally but has one hell of a singer to do that for him.

This is sort of becoming a lost art in modern metal, as songs take the form of rants, philosophical dissertations, social commentary, and personal blood-shedding. All of those have their place, quite obviously, but finding a band that can help you get lost inside their music and their words is something to behold. That’s a thing Swedish doom band Anguish have done for two records now, their latest being “Mountain.” Like on their awesome debut “Through the Archdemon’s Head,” you go on a journey with the band, one that can be punishing and enthralling at the same time. On “Mountain,” tales of fallen kings, murder, destruction, battles from the past, and even arch demons come into play, and the eight tracks on this record don’t give you the choice of sampling. You’re in for the entire ride, and you won’t be able to look away for a second.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????Vocalist J. Dee takes front and center spot with the band, and his pained wailing and, if you’ll excuse me, anguished howls drive the drama and horror behind these songs. He’s one hell of an expressive singer, reminding a bit of Tom G. Warrior from time to time, and he’s full of charisma and evil intent. Listening to him is a morbid joy. Alongside him are guitarists/bassists David and Christoffer, as well as drummer Rasmus. On this record, the band strips things back just a bit, letting their fiery doom/death-inspired chops lead the way, and this is an album that with each subsequent listen, you find yourself sucked into their world more and more.

The simply named “Intro” is the first gush of sound, chilling and trickling, bringing you into the cold by luring you there. Then “Makarian Furnace” opens into a dark, doomy world, building in a calculating manner and letting Dee’s demonic yarn-weaver voice split into the action. He sounds sick and manic at times, almost like a villain watching his world wash away, and the rest of the band delivers, cleverly inserting a cowbell at the point when things are about to erupt again. Well put together. “Stir Up the Demon” is a furious one, with a stomping assault, tremendous leads, and Dee howling the blood-stopping admission, “I murdered him, there he lies smiling.” He spits out diatribes about false loyalty, doomed kings, and other treachery, while the band hits a deadly groove and even covers some thrashy territory. “Master of Peak’s Fall” has a watery, blurry open, with strong riffs blasting the door down and maniacal storytelling keeping you engaged. There is slow-driving misery that gives way to soaring soloing, and the end is dressed in dark organs, mournful singing, and melodies that twist and turn.

“Decomposer of Planets” has a really strange first few minutes, with Dee warbling like a crazy person and the music feeling absolutely ominous. Eventually, the song really starts to chug, the narration turns to growls, and track has a thunderous, disruptive conclusion hammered home by the declaration, “Your king is dead!” “The Woven Shield” has some slick, massive basslines that move into a heavy doom crunch and Dee shouting, “I am hunted across the lands,” meaning it as a threat and without an ounce of fear. More organs spill in, giving the song a gothic feel, and the punishment comes to an abrupt end. “Void” lurches and crawls menacingly, with smashing and mashing from the band, and the song switching back and forth from moodier parts to sections that will devastate you. It’s one of the most interesting songs on the record. Closer “Snowhammer” could not be a better curtain-dropper, starting with cold, fear-invoking passages before it punches its way out and begins its attack. Dee, in his most threatening voice, shouts, “Let them be crushed, see them be bled, let them crawl in excrement!” From there, the band lets everything burn, from savage damage being meted out, to dark keys rising again, and mystical, razor-sharp guitar work leading you to the end.

Getting lost inside Anguish’s dark, twisted fantasy world for 50 minutes is tremendous fun and should fill every desire a true metal fan has inside of them. “Mountain” is heavy, ugly, glorious, wretched, and evil, and every second of this is worth poring over. This band is developing quite the track record only two albums in, and it’ll be terribly exciting to hear what blood-splattered, doomed drama they dream up next.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anguish/175400599142558

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store

For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

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