September 24, 2013

Anagnorisis - Beyond All Light

Review by Andy Osborn.

Cover painting "The Enigma" by Gustave Doré

Kentucky has become a hotbed for extreme metal in recent years. Austin Lunn, known for his work in Panopticon and Seidr, is unquestionably the state’s metallic godfather, so it’s no surprise that Anagnorisis used to count him as a key member. But the group has grown and expanded since his departure, creating a sophomore full-length that he must be proud of.

Subscribing to the Scandinavian 90s-revelling school of USBM, Beyond All Light drips with potent ambience, a slave to the dark and dank. Not unlike UK newcomers Lychgate, the band mixes their sanguine foundation with a crushing concoction of death-doom that amps up the metallic tension to a whirlwind of extremity. This thick, complex atmosphere is heavily coated with a sheen of keyboards that seeps through every audible crack and crevice so it’s no surprise that the beautiful madness of Emperor is heavily channeled here. “This Cursed Blood” is clearly an homage to the newly-reunited Norwegian masters through and through; spewing relentless hellfire with every available tool.

The thick fog of keyboard layers and amped-up low end result in a production not normally found on a black metal album. It's almost as if the instruments themselves take a backseat to the overall atmosphere as the tidal wave consumes and corrupts with its enveloping churn. But while it’s clear the band has no shortage of ideas, it unfortunately becomes apparent that this is their first foray into making songs past the five minute mark. Cohesion is occasionally lost as the instrumental forays drag just a little too much or become expected. The schizophrenic “Bountiful Godless Life“ begins as an incredible Dimmu-esque opus before being dissected by an acoustic reverie and devolving into less bombastic fare. Meanderings aside, Beyond All Light is still a remarkable work that surprises at every corner with the unexpected guitar solo or vocal change that brings a sublime sense of wonder and terror throughout.

The band have released an incredibly in-depth video chronicling the writing and recording process of Beyond All Light. It shows the quintet’s devotion to the dark arts and how they have progressed since the release of their 2007 debut, giving an interesting backstage view that most never get to see. And it seems their hard work has paid off, as Anagnorisis prove to be another gem in the state more renowned for its bluegrass and bourbon than black metal.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

1 comment:
  1. It's alright. I agree with the criticisms Andy leveled at it and can't add much to that.

    I think the best part of the album is the interlude in "Forever Night", a little over halfway through the track. That was the only part that really resonated with me. The drums don't really do much and as Andy pointed out, the instruments get swallowed by the atmosphere.