Saturday, 24 April 2010

Anubi - Kai Pilnaties Akis Uzmerks Mirtis (1997) 75/100.

Anubi and their history is built on all things strange. Not only is their sound unusual, but the fact that they split-up due to Lord Ominous’, a prominent figure in the Lithuanian scene at the time, death during a sailing excursion on Lake Michigan in 2002 is also bizarre. However, if you’re going to attempt to tackle this album entitled ‘Kai Pilnaties Akis Uzmerks Mirtis’ head-on, you had best become accustomed to all things odd as this piece of music will challenge your beliefs on black metal and how it melds with the avant-gardé movement. Bands this experimental can be considered dangerous. It’s easy to see how people could call this obnoxious, or pretentious because it doesn’t like to stick to traditions and despite the fact that it was conjured up during the mid-to-late 1990’s doesn’t stop it from tackling sounds and influences that normally don’t come into contact with black metal. You could say that this record is ahead of its time and though that may sound clichéd, there is some truth to this statement.

Not content to follow the formulaic sound of the 1990’s, Lithuania’s Anubi challenge the listeners perception of the scene during that era by melding unusual influences into their metal scope. As I understand, having read a brief summary of the history of Anubi, they were a much more metallic force during their early days. Nowadays, the black metal aspirations have been transformed and transcend that particular sub-genre of metal. Through the use of brass instruments, unusual keyboards samples, a variety of string instruments and typically Eastern sounding type of clean vocals, Anubi establish themselves as a band who’re looking to change the direction of black metal even though that particular influence on their sound has been stripped down and rearranged to sound less and less like the genre that gave them life. To me, the harsh vocals can be considered to offer the brunt of the black metal sound in Anubi’s album.

However, having said that, the harsh vocals don’t take a typical route and prefer, like the rest of the elements on this unusual affair, to deviate heavily from the normal standards of the genre by becoming more of a deep throaty scream, rather than a rasp or a shriek. Occasionally, Anubi will even dabble in genres that don’t seem to have a place on the album, giving the listener an idea of the extent that they will go to in order to achieve something dramatic and unexpected. ‘Ir Saulë Neteko Savo Pusës Veido’, for example, deals with dark ambient and perhaps even folksy ties. The song consists of meandering ambiance and a slowly plucked clean guitar which reminds me of bands like Russia’s Kauan, once again drawing my mind back to the Eastern vibes, particularly of Finnish, Russian and Ukrainian origin -- shown very well in the echoing vocals of ‘Folklorinë Daina Apie Mirtá’. The vocals aren’t the main highlight however. Though they display a sense of variety well, they don’t offer the same sort of positivity to the album that areas like the bass, or the enigmatic programming does.

The band seemingly revolve around ideas of Egyptian mythology, so maybe that has something to do with the organic, folksy feel of songs like ‘Ir Saulë Neteko Savo Pusës Veido’ which also, as aforementioned, deals with a dark ambient atmosphere (once again explored on the epic final song in its menacing form). Considering Anubi supposedly come from a gothic styled background, this suits them well and gives their album a sense of brooding emotions. For the most part however, unlike the aforementioned song, the atmosphere is spacious. Unlike a lot of black metal material, Anubi don’t conjure up a claustrophobic atmosphere in their songs. Instead, as the excellent ‘Ozirio Adventas’ highlights, the band use a very open style of play. The bass is consistently in the foreground fighting off perceptions that it must be buried beneath the guitars. Instead of playing as a back-up to the guitars, the bass has its own mind, its own ideas on how to run a tight ship and constantly stages its own show as the guitars offer the distortion.

The guitars aren’t always typically repetitive as songs like the previously mentioned one showcase. Anubi use a variety of clean guitar effects which make the atmospheric qualities soar and, alongside the unusual, eerie keyboards, the songs finally begin to feel as if they’re addressing the dark undertones of a standard black metal album without ever strictly sticking to the rules. While the structures of the songs are fairly easy to read after a while, Anubi like to generate a feel of freshness by supplying the album with unusual, unexpected additions like an accordion, odd tingling programming (as shown on ‘Ið tuðtumos Á Akmens Tylà’) and a bass section which doesn’t like to play second fiddle to anyone. As a fan of the bass instrument, I find it refreshing that Anubi wish to use the bass in such a fore-fronted manner. The bass is consistently audible due to the boundless production which offers a mystical sound on occasions. Although this record takes a long time to grow on its listener, it does offer metal something which it hasn’t heard before and that is a rarity.

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