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Anubis - The Second Hand Award winner

Anubis
The Second Hand
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 25 March 2017, 1:51 PM

Australia’s Cinematic Progressive Rock band ANUBIS was formed in 2004 and are releasing their fourth studio album “The Second Hand,” which contains nine new tracks. It’s a concept album, centered around an aging music mogul who, after suffering a brain injury, is left paralyzed and a prisoner in his own skin. All that is left for him is time to think about his life, and the emptiness of his monetary/public success. The title track opens with a tense but inviting sound, with a brief repeated piano line that exudes sadness. The vocals and lyrics are lamenting, and the ambient passages magnify this effect. There are nods to 70’s style Prog that you can pick up, especially from the tone of the electric keys. But at the same time, it is modern, and enters uncharted seas. “Fool’s Gold” Is more uplifting at times with an easy listening riff, yet the mixture of major and minor chords and downtrodden lyrics remind you that the title reflects a deception of happiness, and the instrumentation supports this fully. That final section without vocals really builds a spire of beauty.

“These Changing Seasons I” has a wonderful Post-Rock sort of sound, and the harmonized vocals envelope you like a warm blanket that you turn to for comfort on a cold day. “The Making Of Me” is wide in scope, mixing and mingling a variety of different sounds into a track that reaches high and is rich in layers. The vocals soar and the extended vocal notes add a lot of accentuation to a rather amorphous and mysterious song overall. “While Rome Burns” is nearly ten minutes in length. With the ambient and majestic start, you know you are in for an epic track. Like a thick fog that refuses to fully lift with an impending sunrise, it breaks out and then retreats again. The withholding of an all-out attack is where the beauty of the song truly lies. “Blackout” is another long track, and a sad tale that really embraces unabashed melody. The chorus is simply but oh so effective. When people talk about how there can be beauty in despair, you can understand how that would sound now. Sometimes the groove can remind me of more free flowing psychedelic music and definitely some PINK FLOYD elements.

“These Changing Seasons” marks a perfectly timed segue in the concept album. The comely acoustic sounds tug at your emotions, invoking both a longing for what was and perhaps a plea for better things to come. “Pages Of Stone” is a nearly seventeen minute opus that is an album in and of itself. The title is so expressive. Specific pages in a book can represent points of your life, and turning them moves you forward. But what happens when they are made of stone? They remain static. At least, that is my interpretation. The minor chords impart an ominous feeling of doom, and the heavy vibrato laden keyboard notes add further to this. The guitar solo is so well done. Not a single note too many or two few, and in perfect key. This feels like a major turning point on the album and sort of a rock bottom for the main character. A crescendo comes crashing down on you towards the end.

“These Changing Seasons III” is the finale for the tale. I have to admit that I was unsure of the direction the summary would take. It could have been dark, or light, and would still have made sense. Either way, it is a gorgeous track. Do we as humans instinctively like a happy ending? Or, can there be poetry in despair? This is the question that you have to allow yourself to answer based on your individual interpretation of the songs on “The Second Hand,” and I love that the album allows you do to just that. Will some listeners find this album hard to fully comprehend? Possibly. It contains so many layers that the faint of heart might not be able to peel them all back, and at times, those layers can be tough to peel back. But the more you listen to it, the more you pick up. At least, that was the case for me. It’s a very ambitious effort; and contains the better part of the band members’ blood, sweat and tears, and is one of the better Prog concept albums I have heard in a while.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Second Hand
2. Fool's Gold
3. These Changing Seasons I
4. The Making of Me
5. While Rome Burns
6. Blackout
7. These Changing Seasons II
8. Pages of Stone
9. These Changing Seasons III
Lineup:
Robert James Moulding-Vocals, Guitars, Percussion
David Eaton-Organs, Mellotron, Piano, Synthesizers, Guitar, and Vocals
Douglas Skene-Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Electric Sitar, and Vocals
Dean Bennison-Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Slide Guitar, and Vocals
Anthony Stewart-Electric & Acoustic Bass, Moog Bass Pedals, and Vocals
Steven Eaton-Drums, Percussion, Glockenspiel, and Vocals
Record Label: Bird's Robe Records
     


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Edited 28 January 2022
 

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