September 18, 2014

Ancst – In Turmoil

Written by Craig Hayes.

Plenty of metal fans don’t see the genre as the appropriate forum for directly addressing socio-political issues. I’m definitely not one of those fans. I think metal’s big enough and tough enough to handle a few rip-roaring debates in the ranks, and I'm of the opinion that the sonic and ideological battlefield where metal and punk meet is the absolutely perfect place for banner-waving and putting a furious sense of activism into action.

Whether it’s metallic punk legends like Discharge, Amebix, or Antisect, or their endless inheritors, any band combining by-the-throat punk and hardcore with incensed metal riffing, irate vocals, and percussive barrages is guaranteed to get my attention. So, when I saw that German blackened crust collective Ancst summarised the band's lyrical and political stance as anti-fascist, anti-sexist, anti-religion, and DIY, I have to admit to being predisposed to embrace the band’s revolutionary zeal.

Obviously, nowadays, there’s no shortage of heavy crossover bands that deal in some (or all) of the ideals that Ancst convey. Bands like Ramlord, Masakari, Badr Vogu, Tragedy, Iskra, Martyrdöd, and Nux Vomica might all take different routes through the maelstrom of crust and metal, and some of them clearly favour a more overtly political stance than others, but every one of those bands meets at the point where disgust at the modern world's failings is expressed via hot-tempered and savage sounds.

That's exactly the location where Ancst reside too. You can reference any number of those aforementioned bands to describe Ancst’s mettle, and the band’s music features as much of a crusty stench as it does black metal bite. Ancst originally formed in 2011, and the band’s In Turmoil compilation collects hard to find or out-of-print releases; including EP, split, and demos tracks recorded from 2012 to 2014. Co-released by labels Vendetta, Wooaaargh, and Yehonala Tapes, as well as being available on Bandcamp, In Turmoil's content has all been remastered for a little extra heft, and the collection makes for an admirable introduction to the band’s work thus far.

What you’ll find on In Turmoil is caustic crust and fierce hardcore all twisted round icy tremolo on tracks like “Entropie”, “Frailty”, and “Patterns & Dreamers”. And there are darker, more atmospheric, and downtempo sounds to be found on tracks like “The Faceless” and “Howl”. Vocals are barked angrily throughout, with plenty of irreligious and ill-tempered fervour, and although there are brief moments of melody scattered about In Turmoil, for the majority or the compilation, Ancst deal in seething fury and out-and-out indignation.

Not every track on In Turmoil is a stand-out classic, but the thirteen songs reveal a band exploring structure and style with passion, which is all very encouraging for the future. Really, the only nitpicking about In Turmoil worth mentioning is that some tracks are thicker and punchier than others. That’s nothing that can't be remedied by turning up the volume up, for a more hard-hitting assault, and given In Turmoil represents Ancst’s recordings over a couple of years, it’s not unexpected that some tracks are more honed than others.

There’s certainly a great sense of a rallying call to arms on plenty of In Turmoil’s tracks, and there’s no doubting the energy or intensity of raw and heartfelt anthems like “Another Dead End's Anthem” and “Shallow”. As it stands, In Turmoil shows a great deal of promise. If you're a fan of fellow German bands like Alpinist, Jungbluth, or Downfall of Gaia, then Ancst are well worth tracking down too. The band wields bludgeoning blackened hardcore extremely well, tearing into this callous shit-storm of marginalising modernity that we call home with much-needed venom and strength of will.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

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