PICK OF THE WEEK: Anicon stretch black metal, scrape dark human experiences on ‘Entropy Mantra’

Being a living, breathing human being isn’t easy, especially as you get older. Responsibilities, work difficulties, navigating relationships through all of this, and just trying to interact as a member of one’s community aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be. That’s not even considering political and societal woes we encounter every day which, piled on top, can make the world feel like utter blackness.

When it comes to black metal, those are not topics heavily gleaned for content, no matter how close to the human spirit they cut. Yet, NYC quartet Anicon never have been your typical band, and their amazing new record “Entropy Mantra” captures that brilliantly and explosively. On this, their second full-length and follow-up to 2016’s phenomenal “Exegeses,” the band spreads their personal affectations over seven tracks that certainly have the black metal spirit musically but also blast beyond those boundaries into so much more. Elements of prog, death metal, and classic heavy metal can be heard throughout this album, and the band—vocalist/guitarist Owen Rundquist, guitarist/vocalist Nolan Voss, bassist Alexander DeMaria, and drummer Lev Weinstein—seems content to present themselves in a fuller, more dynamic way mostly musically and philosophically on this record.

“Feeding Hand” begins the record punching its way into the room, with riffs and drums trembling, and wild yells and shouts mixing together. The heat dissipates for a spell before hot soloing rushes in, menacing growls provide quaking emotion, and the back end is thrashy, tricky, and hypnotic.  “Wither and Waste” has proggy bass swaggering before the leads unleash their rage and punishment. The vocals scrape like a rusty razor over agitated flesh, while all elements combine to form a tornadic pressure. The melody speeds up and hammers the senses, while harsh growls and fury bring the track to a punishing close. “Drowned in the Mirage” opens with rain pounding before the tempo explodes, and melodic storming continues. The tempo shakes the room, while feverish cries send splinters flying, and the playing gets delirious. The leads explode, sending the track into bone-powdering drums and a clean ending that trickles away.

“Names Written in Tar” has Weinstein’s drums tearing down the walls, riffs coming to life, and a classic metal feel emerging. The song begins to surge and pummel, with vocals bruising and the melodies soaring out of that. The track comes to a clobbering end, with the drums book-ending this demolition. “Tarnish on the Emblems of Ardor” has speedy riffs, a dangerous outlook, and guitar work that makes your head spin in dizzying chaos. The growls gurgle, while your senses are flooded with power, with the band setting a riveting, stirring backbone that drives hard. Tension stretches, with the hairs from your arms scorched. “Blood From a Road” runs nine minutes and chars right off the bat. Riffs push and dice, but eventually they let a fog envelop. The track is savage and disorienting, with the tempo poking and prodding, guttural grunts going for your veins, and a blazing finish. Closer “Paling Terrain” is the longest song by four seconds at 9:04, and a bed of static and squeaks leads into drums smashing boundaries and guitars feasting on your psyche. Melodies trickle heartily amid crazed growls, while the punchy playing opens into a sea of lightning-flash guitars. The song caterwauls, as if it’s reaching its apex, and it is, as the flood of sound overwhelms, and the track drills out into the lonely dark.

Anicon’s music always has been challenging and thought provoking, even at their most vicious, with “Entropy Mantra” being another huge step in the direction of being one of black metal’s most intelligent acts. They tackle topics here to which most people can relate, and to some (me included), the idea of panic and anxiety always is scarier than some make-believe devil. This album represents a dark, shadowy creature that’s real and can eat away at your very soul.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/scrapingearthandsky/

To buy the album, go here: https://vendettarecords.bigcartel.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://vendettarecords.wordpress.com/

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