The United States has become a rich, fertile ground for developing black metal bands. Whether it’s Weakling, Wolves in the Throne Room, Krallice, or Yellow Eyes, there is a hell of a lot for us Americans to brag about when it comes to this style of music and neck-breaking bends and heady twists this land has applied to that sound. Now we have another heavyweight emerging in the form of Anicon.
To be clear, Anicon are not newcomers to American black metal. They’ve been around several years, doing the road warriors thing, blowing the doors off small venues in towns all over this nation. In fact, they’ll be headed back to my corner of the globe next month playing on the ultra-limited Ruins of Beverast tour, and I’m as excited to take in Anicon as I am the headliners. In tow will be their first full-length record, the mighty “Exegeses,” the culmination of several years of creation. This record is not the result of a linear creative route, as they formed these songs over the last couple years, even though other, non-related music was dreamt up by the band in the timeframe. But Anicon determined these seven songs belonged together, and after painstakingly examining what they had, the final collection we receive here are the ones that they felt should make up “Exegeses.”
Anicon have been together since 2010, with the founding duo of guitarists/vocalists Nolan Voss and Owen Rundquist creating their initial self-titled EP that would see the light of day two years later. As time went on, they brought in other creative partners, namely bassist Alexander DeMaria (who has played as a part of Yellow Eyes’ live unit) and drummer Liv Weinstein (Krallice, Geryon, Bloody Panda), and released a split effort with Belus as well as a stunning EP “Aphasia” that came out last year. But “Exegeses” is another level for the band. It’s their arrival as one of the most formidable and powerful black metal bands in the United States. They can stand in front of anyone from a heaviness standpoint, but they also wash their art in thought-provoking passages and creatively played songs that stimulate the mind and not just the animalistic part of one’s soul.
The record wastes zero time getting started, opening with the smearing “Toil and Mockery,” a stomping piece that threatens early and unloads searing riffs. In fact, riffs are in abundance on this record. Howls whip at your skin, and the band heads into a thrashing panic. The pace pelts, with melodies lathering and the growls blurting out fire, and the pace twists and turns all the way to the finish, which unloads devastation. “The World As Will” is spindling and spiraling, with the riffs bruising, and the wails of, “Stone by stone by stone!” helping you envision the band piling massive layers. The song seems to ease for a moment, but out of that comes crushing drums and guitars whipping up a dizzying frenzy, with a full-on assault ending in a fury. “Mazzaroth” has a gruff beginning, with the song pounding down, and a gritty onslaught unfolding. There are bits here that are as infectious as they are deadly, and some of the guitar work sounds borderline euphoric, as if it’s pouring blinding sun into your eyes. Of course, the track turns ugly again, and the blood streak is dragged over the end of the song and into “Robed in Torments.” There, a heavy cloud cover hangs, while sorrowful melodies bleed into glorious, classic-style guitar lines that singe. The violence is unleashed, with feral growls, power metal-style soloing (it makes the hairs on your arm stand up), and a teeth-grinding conclusion that mashes your nerves.
“Hallucinating Fate” is on fire right from the start, with furious growls leading, melody spreading its wings, and their unpredictable ways keeping you guessing. Atmospheric guitar work unleashes a wind gust, and the lead playing gets your blood rushing hard. The track keeps rolling and accumulating bodies Katamari-style, before the track reaches a wintry finish. “From Teeth, From Tongue” has striking riffs out front, with the music blistering and soaring hard, and the playing doing its damage. The growls tear in and get gurgly, with a doom haze beginning to stretch darkness overhead, and the sounds boiling. Later, the band hits a stretch of serenity, allowing you to catch a breath, but the chaos returns and upends you before the track finishes. Closer “In Shadow & Amber” has a delirious pace, one of the most insane on the entire record, and the band unleashes its assault with churning growls and outright speed. The cry of, “My will remains,” blasts you in the chest, as the tempo changes up and goes progressive, leaving you grasping for the wall, the floor, or whatever will break your fall. Fiery growls scrape once more, and a final, scorching outburst does the remaining bit of damage, dragging you to the brink of submission.
“Exegeses” already is on the short list of the best music put out so far in this middle-aged 2016, and it’s easily one of the most satisfying black metal records that have crawled out of any land during that time. Anicon already have a stellar reputation based on their recorded output to this point, as well as their thunderous live show, and this record only should cement that. This album should be seen years from now as a landmark that formally introduced one of the country’s most important bands into the landscape.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/scrapingearthandsky
To buy the album, go here: https://www.erodingwinds.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/
And here: https://www.erodingwinds.com/