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Dystopia - Anthemon

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Artist: Anthemon / Genre: Hard Rock & Metal

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      23.01.2008 00:41
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      Anthemon's second album (2004).

      Anthemon's second album is a curious serving of grand symphonic doom with an incredible atmosphere and powerful singing, but all the same it's an album I repeatedly mistake for being a tad more epic and harrowing than it really is. The first couple of songs blew me away when I first heard them, until the style continued more or less exactly the same through the rest of the album and even started to bore me a little by the end, but still whenever I think of the album or glimpse its apocalyptic, Beksinski-style cover art, it's guaranteed to fill me with an excitement that's all too soon abated when I remember the bland truth. It isn't a bad album by any means, and even possessing this degree of individuality within the frequently boring and derivative realm of doom metal is a fine achievement, but perhaps now I've got it down in writing I'll remember next time to only play a select few songs rather than committing myself. I'll clearly just forget again though, I am an idiot.

      Anthemon's style is consciously grandiose, and Sebastien Latour makes no apologies for dominating the recording with his majestic, symphonic keyboards, which frequently upstage and eliminate even the rhythm guitars. It's often convincing enough to believe there's a real orchestra on the recording, but some of the later songs particularly are content to revel in electronic ambience, while traditionally booping keyboard solos are common, introduced in the second track. The guitars themselves are fairly run-of-the-mill doom, never too heavy or dominant but occasionally producing a slow, elegiac lead in the tradition of pretty much every modern doom band veering on the death metal side of things, though for me it's only ever been the guitars from 'Foretell Omega' that remain memorable after the album has finished. The death-doom influence is far less prominent here than in something like Tears for Mankind, probably the nearest equivalent I've heard but still some distance away, but Marc Canlers occasionally supplements his clean singing with a modest death growl for accentuation, most prominently in track six for no apparent special reason.

      It's Canlers' vocals that provide one of the band's greatest curiosities, as he spends the majority of the album sounding like a dead ringer for Iced Earth's Matt Barlow. The similarity is uncanny, making it highly unlikely that Canlers wasn't so impressed listening to albums like 'Burnt Offerings' in the mid-nineties that he trained himself to be a remarkable forgery, though there's always the theory of spontaneous generation. There really are only a few sections outside of the generic death growls that it's possible to tell this is a different singer to the Georgetown P.D.'s finest, but needless to say it makes for an excellent (if not entirely original) performance, and is effective in further distancing this album from the operatic heights of Candlemass and their many imitators.

      As is typical of doom, these songs are all a little on the slow side, though remain dynamic and catchy enough through the largely unimaginative drums, and tend to fall between four and seven minutes in length. The longer songs offer enough pleasant diversions to remain interesting throughout, though as mentioned earlier it's the repetitive nature of the album itself that provides the only real problem in making it to the end. With the prominence of the orchestral elements this album ends up losing some of the character and effectiveness of a more simplistic, stripped-down doom release, and along with it most of the emotional resonance, meaning that this isn't the sort of doom you could contentedly spend an evening crying along to in despair. It's very polished and a little obtuse, but each individual song has its merits outside of the collection, particularly as the early songs, the fair instrumental 'Tuned to a Dead Channel' and the sixth track are all comparatively upbeat for doom.

      The slower, more typically bleak songs (though only by a little) can be deduced from tell-tale titles such as 'Recall the Absence' and 'Serene Eyes' in which the Canlers/Barlow comparison reaches its peak, and do succeed further in establishing the emotional connection otherwise lacking. The lyrics themselves have never stood out despite Canlers' clarity (I suppose I was concentrating too hard on the Barlow thing), and I'm always a little surprised and disappointed when reading the tracklist that these varied and interesting themes weren't more legibly expressed in the music, which in my mind (untrustworthy, remember) tends to just sort of hover around various ashen wastelands of the crust of the Earth we succeeded in annihilating. The final track in particular conjures an image of impending doom with none of the despair or anger that other bands might strive for, and instead leaves me with a sort of disinterested wistfulness in the inevitable apocalypse of mankind, idly wondering what it would feel like to be engulfed by a nuclear wind and only mildly regretting that I'll never be able to hold my own skull.

      1. Above Us
      2. Foretell Omega
      3. Chatter of the Tube
      4. Recall the Absence
      5. Tuned to a Dead Channel
      6. La chute de l'architecture
      7. Manifold of...
      8. Serene Eyes

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    • Product Details

      Tracklistings:
      1. Above Us
      2. Foretell Omega
      3. Chatter Of The Tube
      4. Recall The Absence
      5. Tuned To A Dead Channel (instrumental)
      6. La Chute De L'Architecte
      7. Manifold Of...
      8. Serene Eves