Black Anima - _Satanist? Satanist!_
(Independent, 2010)
by: Mark Dolson (8.5 out of 10)
Well, this is an interesting and original release, to put it mildly. I had never heard of Black Anima before, so after a little research I came across the following: coming from the south of Sweden, Black Anima are a two-man black/heavy metal act (bordering what I would call "avantgarde") who started out in 2007, and consist of Astaroth on lead and backing vocals, and Savopipo on all guitars, programming (yes, it's a drum machine, unfortunately), as well as lead and backing vocals. Over the past three years, Black Anima has put out three independently released full-length albums: _Dark by Design_ (2008), _What Noise_ (2008), and _Undecim_ (2009); along with two EPs, _Hammer of the North_ (2009) and _Satanist? Satanist!_ (reviewed below).

As soon as the fist song of _Satanist? Satanist!_ started, I knew I liked this very much. It's not very often, really, that I come across a black metal band that I find interesting and refreshing (especially in this day and age), so I'm glad to be reviewing this EP. A quick perusal of the song titles might give the impression that this is fairly generic and sophomoric black metal. So, in terms of song titles, this is what you'll find on _Satanist! Satanist?_: "Intro", "Sea of Vomit", "I Hate You (Motherfuckers)", "Kneel Only Unto Yourself", "Putting the Severed Heads of the Followers of Jesus on Small Wooden Stakes While the Sun Sets Behind the Snow Covered Rooftops of TrĂ¥nghalla (Instrumental)", and, lastly, "People Make Me Sick". Well, track number five takes the cake-- this even beats the pants off of early Immortal for long song titles.

So, what is Black Anima all about, anyways? Well, I'm quite hard-pressed to draw any immediate comparisons, but if I'm forced to I'll say that the songs on _Satanist? Satanist!_ sound like a mix of 80s American thrash, black metal and good old rock and roll (especially the guitar solos). In terms of concrete specifics, though, _Satanist? Satanist!_ reminded me of the following: Metallica's _Master of Puppets_, particularly with respect to some of the thrash-oriented riffs (see the last track, "People Make Me Sick"); Mayhem, especially _De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas_ and the cold, chilly feel of some of the black-metal riffs; Solefald, with particular reference to the clean guitar passages along with the quirky and unpredictable guitar solos; and the mysterious and underground Traumatic Voyage's _Traumatic Voyage_ from 1992 -- I'm not sure what it is, but _Satanist? Satanist!_ has somewhat of a similar feel to this album. There's a lot of variation in terms of pace on this record, ranging from slower sections, to all out blast-beasts and furious sounding black metal riffage, so it holds up really well in terms of keeping the listener captivated. Considering some of the length of the songs (eight minutes on average), though, there is some repetition here and there. This just makes me think that some of the songs could have been shorted or edited somewhat -- only by a minute or two in places.

What I want to draw particular attention to, though, is the novel approach to the vocals. Instead of your typical harsh and grim style of shrieking, Black Anima takes a very different tack: the main vocals are a form of loudly spoken narration; and, when coupled with the lyrics, they sound like a series of socio-politically inspired aphoristic bursts -- almost of Nietzschean proportions. As well, there are some really bizarre samples from movies that are definitely unknown to me, which serve as intros and outros to some of the songs. I like this, as it adds to the strange and mysterious atmosphere which inheres in the songs.

The sound on this EP is pretty good, although I would have liked to have heard some real drums instead of programming. Mind you, the drum machine does sound pretty good, and I've heard much worse (particularly on Parnassus' _In Doloriam Gloria_ album from 1995). The guitars sound pretty good, and the vocals are clear in the mix. The keyboards, which are present only to add a little bit of assistance in terms of atmosphere, are nestled nicely in the background, and don't take any form of prominent position anywhere on the album.

As far as originality goes, Black Anima is in great standing. I like the coupling of that American thrash sound with black metal and, as I stated above, I really liked the approach to the vocals. Other bands use narration here and there, but never as the main approach -- and this works perfectly with Black Anima. I think if the band can hire themselves a real drummer, this could only improve their sound. So, if you're looking for a fresh take on avantgard-ish black metal, look no further as Black Anima are writing music that you want to hear.


(article published 29/12/2010)

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