Anael - _From Arcane Fires_
(Paragon, 2008)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (7 out of 10)
I've a habit of glancing at the press release accompanying each promo I receive before listening to the CD, to set expectations but also to give the album an optimal first impression by ensuring I don't pop in an occult black metal CD when what I'm really in the mood for is stoner rock or avant doom (strangely I never find myself "in the mood" for the likes of metalcore or power metal... not that I'm dismissive of either, it's just that they rarely if ever trigger any kind of "craving" instincts, for whatever that's worth).

Well, the PR for Anael's latest, _From Arcane Fires_, was gracious enough to tag it as "occult black metal", but muddied the waters a bit by listing the album as "for fans of: Rotting Christ, Varathron, Tiamat, Samael, Absu". Furthermore they quote an unnamed webzine as adding comparisons to Melechesh, Xantatol, Taranis, Holy Death... see, this is why I don't like citing band names in reviews for the purposes of illustrating an artist's sonic repertoire. The above bands are so disparate that I can't see a single group combining all the influences without being completely all over the plate, but the synthesis of those influences are broad enough that they could lead you in a thousand different directions.

Since the A&R reps as well as other reviewers would likely cite brevity as a primary reason for invoking band comparisons, let's see if I can't convey a more descriptive analysis of what the band sound like without dropping names: regal, ceremonial, wilfully plodding and mysterious, Anael purvey a lumbering brand of hazily produced ritual metal, atmostpheric but not esoteric, restrained by the frenzied over-the-top standards of much black metal... complexity without technicality. Guitars seem to be tuned for droning but are forced to play quarter- and half-notes, maybe the occasional whole note at best. Seraphackh does a solid job mixing up his vocal delivery but Premeumathon's drumming is rarely better than metronomic and predictable, plus those guitars are really pretty unengaging, more like a muffled smear across the sonic canvas than a well articulated addition to the ensemble. Not a catastrophe by any means, but underdeveloped and hardly essential.


(article published 23/1/2009)

10/31/2005 P Azevedo 6.5 Anael - On Wings of Mercury
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