There are a lot of ways for metal bands to incorporate instruments that aren't common to the genre. In some cases, like the banjo solo on Taake's Noregs Vaapen, they surprise but then disappear almost as quickly as they arrive. In other cases, like Jørgen Munkeby's sax in Shining or Otrebor's hammered dulcimer in Botanist, they are an integral part of the band's sound. And of course, in some unfortunate cases, a band with more money than sense will hire a string section or a whole damn symphony orchestra to simply double some riffs and bass lines for no musical purpose (*cough* Metallica and Guns 'n Roses *cough*).
Anopheli and their cellist, Nicole, are a fine example of doing this right. The band very accurately self describes itself as "melancholy doom-laden emo punk," and there are a lot of great things happening with this music, but the cello parts are certainly some of the more striking. On Anopheli's latest album, An Ache of Want, the cello is front and center, carrying melodic lines and naturally riffing with the guitars. The album's closing song, "Trade," has a great example of this interplay, with the cello and guitar sharing and trading motifs back and forth. You might not expect a crust punk band to be striking in a compositional sense, but sometimes exceptions to the rule are very happy exceptions, indeed.
But I don't want to make this sound like the band just plays slightly heavy chamber music, because they also happen to be furious and emotionally raw. The line up for this particular album credits three vocalists, featuring plenty of dueling male/female lines. Guitars range between distorted, clean, and acoustic, and likewise, the rhythm section delivers what's needed, both in the doomier and more explosive sections. The band can bruise and delight in equal measure, and it’s a blast listening to them mix them together.
Their previous album, A Hunger Rarely Sated, is also well worth checking out--and I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoyed it until I went back to re-listen to it when prepping for this review--but The Ache of Want is a huge step forward for this band. It may wear its heart (and its rage) on its sleeve, but repeat listens reveal its subtlety.
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