Anorexia Nervosa - _Exile_
(Season of Mist, 1997)
by: Steve Hoeltzel (
Distressing amnios, discordant effects of suicides, some miracles of entrails... This is one interesting and punishing recording. Its 51 lightless minutes comprise 13 tracks; each track belongs to one of three "cycles"; plus, each track is internally divided into both "sequence" (grim, metal-industrial battery) and "action" (subtle ambient psywarfare). The music allies metal's destructive gunnery with industrial's tactical agility, yet without succumbing to either genre's cliches. (No riff-mongering; no inarticulate grunting or over-processed vox; no tiresome sampling; no rhythmic monotony.) Especially noteworthy are the highly expressive and imaginative vocals, which ceaselessly vacillate between utter dejection and ironfisted aggression. The songs themselves waver likewise, lashing out murderously one second and begging for mercy the next, never gaining balance long enough to become predictable, expiring unexpectedly and leaving only insidious ambient traces behind. The ambient passages are nicely done -- never grandiose, always subtly creepy, and the more so the more closely you listen. Highly uncanny structures, unrelentingly dark tones, anguished vocalizations, weird repetitions... Everything reinforces the impression of a psyche in thrall to its own inescapable degradation and fragmentation. Potent, unsettling stuff. Accessible? Not especially. Excellent? Yes.
(article published 11/17/1997)
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