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Black Anvil - As Was

Black Anvil
As Was
by Garrett Davis at 06 May 2017, 11:30 PM

This is a triumphant return for BLACK ANVIL following their 2014 album “Hail Death”. Their latest 50-minute epic “As Was” is a phenomenal representation of modern Black Metal with Prog-esque technical prowess; where nothing seems out of place and has the unrelenting ferocity of good Thrash. Yet there are also moments of great softness and tempered emotion, making this a more complete picture than a one-note emotional range.

On Forgotten Ways” is an eight-minute opener with a muted yet crystal clear tone. Everything has a dank atmosphere without being muddled and is oppressive without being just a jumble of noise. The echoing distant vocals in the back make for a great stylistic choice and contrats well with the growling lead vocals. “May Her Wrath Be Just” keeps hold of the great background vocals and cranks up the tempo. The title track has a slow grand build-up with plenty of reverb for a nice touch.

Nothing” is a misleading title because “Nothing” is definitely “something”; the phenomenal guitar solo that is one of the best bits of the whole album is here. Now we come to “Two Keys: Share a Lock”, where a Blues-inspired groove opening breaks out into a strong Metal track. Disturbing yet lovely, it has some rapid tempo drumming that sets a fast pace that is sometimes at odds with the vocals, and I am honestly not sure if it works. At around six minutes in it slows down again to more of an acoustic piece with some seemingly random growls thrown in at points, and I feel like it works against this blending of genres; for if the song stuck to these transitions and flowed a little smoother it would be a lot better in my opinion.

The Way of all Flesh” is a short somber track with more acoustic guitar and very little else. It’s a lovely atmospheric transition into the final track “Ultra” but it was honestly such a smooth transition that I barely noticed the hiccup as one track ended and the next began. It feels like padding the track list and is a major pet peeve of mine. If the tracks work really well together, mash them up instead of making a 2-minute transition piece - unless it adds a lot to the album as a whole. “Ultra” is much like the rest of the album, and doesn't introduce anything really fresh, but maybe it didn't have to.

I enjoyed “As Was” for it's great aesthetic and beautifully haunting songs, and I'm eager to hear what else BLACK ANVIL has to offer.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. On Forgotten Ways
2. May Her Wrath Be Just
3. As Was
4. Nothing
5. As An Elder Learned Anew
6. Two Keys: Here's The Lock
7. The Way Of All Flesh
8. Ultra
P.D. – Bass, Vocals
R.G. – Drums, Vocals
Sos – Guitars
Record Label: Relapse Records


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