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Black Anvil - Miles

Black Anvil
Miles
by Sean McGuirk at 24 April 2019, 1:36 PM

BLACK ANVIL are veterans of the New York City Extreme Metal scene, having been around since 2008 (this now qualifies for veteran status, if you’re keeping track). Any scene in a heady and insulated place like NY can be fickle, so the fact that they’ve made it through their fourth LP is no minor feat. While they’ve been branded Black Metal, the through line punk, as two members come from hardcore act KILL YOUR IDOLS and the group boasts influences like POISON IDEA and BLACK FLAG as much as first wavers POSSESSED and CELTIC FROST. On 2017’s “As Was,” the band showed a fearless regard for genre conventions, weaving in moments of MelodicDeath, Hardcore, Post-Metal and Black Metal into one single cohesive masterwork that featured pensive lyrics about the mysteries of life and death.

As many underground Metal acts are wont to do, they decided any EP was due, but this release, “Miles,” carries a special meaning. It was made as a tribute to a fallen brother and highly regarded member of the metal community, Selim Lemouchi. Founding member of THE DEVIL’S BLOOD and touring guitarist for WATAINLemouchi tragically took his own life in 2014.  Consisting of two original songs, a DEVIL’S BLOOD cover, “Everlasting Saturnalia,” and a MERCYFUL FATE cover, “A Corpse Without Soul” the EP shows respect for their friend while being a showcase for the musical dexterity of the group.

EP’s are generally the opportunity for an artist to release uncharacteristic works, and those that show off a certain versatile or “fun” side, and on that “Miles” certainly delivers. Each track is fundamentally different, but the spirit and the energy remain the same. The band works with a kind of hardcore ethos – that sort of “just pick up the instrument and play” vibe that creates an infectious energy on opener “Iron Sharpens Iron.” It’s a straight-up cosmic Black Metal track inspired by the Norwegian second wave, with some clean vocalizations and atmosphere that remind of current era ENSLAVED.

The song flows surprisingly well into “Miles” (“Selim” backwards), which is an emotional Pop-Punk anthem about moving on.  Paul Delaney shows his vocal range in a chorus that you can grab onto instantly. This is the kind of track that was the hallmark of early 2000’s alternative radio, one you’ll want to crank with the windows open on a long drive. “Eternal Saturnalia” is a stunningly minimal cover, a mood piece with some excellent atmosphere and another fine vocal performance from Delaney, summoning the ethereal in a tribute to Lemouchi’s finest work. The odd man out of this four-song set is the aforementioned FATE deep cut, a cover with a rigid faithfulness that betrays the spirit of the rest of the EP, but still remains an amusing curiosity and out-of-the-box song choice that card carrying Coven members will appreciate. That notion of appreciation and respect runs deep on this EP, a fitting tribute to a talented artist whose depth and breadth of work defied all conventions and categorization.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Iron Sharpens Iron
2. Miles
3. Everlasting Saturnalia
4. A Corpse Without Soul
Lineup:
Paul Delaney - Lead Vocals, Bass
Raeph Glicken - Drums, Backing Vocals
Jeremy Sosville - Guitars
Travis Bacon - Guitars
Record Label: STB Records
     


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