Achintya Venkatesh reviews the new album from Anagnorisis self-release titled Beyond All Light.
1. Eulerian Path (7:38)
2. This Cursed Blood (5:53)
3. Death Mimics Life (9:31)
4. Abyss (6:36)
5. Bountiful Goddess Life (7:36)
6. Forever Night (9:16)
The etymological origins of bands is not something a casual listener often delves into, but with a name as unique as Anagnorisis, one cannot help but satiate the inquisitiveness that one is immediately afflicted by when stumbling upon the obscure. Anagnorisis (ἀναγνώρισις) describes that moment in a play or other non rhythmic work of literature when a key character makes a critical discovery of sorts, or reaches a point of realization pertaining to something imperative to the individual’s existence, and may have several implications on the same person’s continuance. The Aristotelian school of thought on the concept of tragedy alludes the term as a protagonist’s sudden awareness of an absolute situation, often in relation to an antagonist in the very same storyline, serving as a manoeuvre that serves to shift the tale in a redolent direction. Let’s ignore the usual clichés that one generally expresses when dealing with bands from locations that are incongruent with their stylistic preference – art is art and at the end of the day should ideally appeal to people from all walks of life, so geographic location and ethnic ties are rather trivial apropos artistic appeal. I merely mention this in light of the fact that an extreme metal band based out of Kentucky, Louisville evidently comes as a surprise to many, but the very point of such music is to achieve that little piece of transcendence.
The band has been christened a ‘modern’ black metal act with a smattering of death metal elements that are apparent in their sonic canvas, but such labels really only serve to feed the listener’s preconceptions as opposed to serving as effective and moreover, helpful labels o the music. The album’s opener, ‘Eulerian Path’ blends the audile theatrics of grandeur and foreboding atmospherics amidst velocity-driven tremolo picking and blast beats with tastefully placed, slower, more rhythm-driven segments which add to the dynamic of the track. ‘This Cursed Blood’ is a straightforward black metal number in the vein of Thorns, and is for the most part centred around vociferous aggression with polyrhythms galore that evoke a certain enjoyable familiarity for the seasoned black metal fan. Segments featuring spiralling leads and cabalistic leads certainly hint at faint references to the death metal side of things. The intense sampled section in the middle of the song featuring only vocals effectively juxtaposes itself with the more chaotic segments of the song, although the turn the vocals took towards the end could’ve well been avoided. ‘Death Mimics Life’ lumbers in comparison and is a more composed composition, engrossing one with bountiful tempo changes. Readily discernible, almost traditional metal-driven leads make their appearance in the thick of a barrage of dexterously executed double-bass chops.
Stream the entire album here:
The other half of the album opens with ‘Abyss’, which could be thought of as an interlude of sorts that dabbles with an almost apocalyptic atmosphere. Unconventionality has been the ethos that the genre has stood by since its inception and thus this number has no apparent song structure, which is precisely why it manages to be a uniquely elegiac and somber dirge. The mournful howls atop tastefully restrained and cultivated instrumentation make this the stand out track on the album. ‘Bountiful Goddess Life’ invokes the likes of early Emperor and perhaps even Enslaved, exquisitely executed with appropriate doses of symphonic dramatism that adroitly evades the descending of the composition into a cheese-fest. The acoustic segment of this song is excellent and elicits an introspective mood, and also serves as a build up towards comparatively subdued, more mid-tempo, funereal segments that close the song. The closer of the latter half of the album, ‘Forever Night’ is a testament to the versatility of the band – a melancholic introduction that descends into a polyrhythm-driven bombardment of almost anthemic riffs, which is met by refined symphonic sections along the way on this epic sonic journey, with the percussive diversity serving as the backbone for this ambitious composition.
The vocals are satisfactorily strident and showcase moments that add to the atmospheric nature of the tracks amidst the blizzard of riffs and relentless percussion. The versatility of the guitar work should not go unappreciated, and presents moments of sheer illumination, solely due to excellently selected rhythms that compliment the symphonic sensibilities of the composition in a magnificent manner, as does the percussive congruence with the aforementioned elements. The keyboard work introduces a refined element to the walls of sound presented by the band, and are brought to the fore during fitting moments, especially on the second half of the album. This is by no means a conventional symphonic extreme metal album, and the elements that could mistakenly be deemed such are more subtle in nature, and serve to orchestrate the various elements of the band’s creative canvas. Lastly, the production is somewhat fuzzy but reinforces the monolithic and epic nature of this musical endeavour, and thankfully, is not aurally abhorrent.
Despite the rather clichéd album name, that is, dare I say, a shoddy attempt at summing up this bleak and misanthropic effort, the music is extremely solid and very effectively lives up to its lofty name, but the degree of memorability this album presents might be subject to the listener’s stylistic preferences and orientations. I’d certainly suggest this release for enthusiasts who enjoy Anaal Nathrakh, Wolves in the Throne Room, Judas Iscariot or even Liturgy (this album did have vaguely post-rock references, might I add) and Septic Flesh. I highly doubt, however, that ‘Beyond All Light’ at the very least, will fail to impression even the most casual listener.