“ Artist: Anachronia / Genre: Hard Rock & Metal „
The world may not be in need of another progressive metal band with a virtuoso guitarist and a female singer, but the good thing about groups like Anachronia is their compelling drive to stand out and create original albums, rather than simply copy what Dream Theater are doing and assume that will be prog enough.
'The Endless Agony' is a really great album, clearly dominated by Thomas and Nathanaël's guitars and Fay's excellent vocals but backed up by Djp's creative use of the drum kit, the prominent bass (especially in the lengthy and frequent instrumental passages) and a keyboard that doubles up as traditional piano when required. Without the need for pointless interludes or sampling gimmicks, each of these songs is distinctive enough to really stand out from its neighbours, and interestingly the band gets the slightly more extravagant and complex business out of the way first, before moving on to material that would easily appeal to the metal mainstream, assuming it can stomach indulgent guitar wailing and female singers. I have a feeling it can.
As could maybe be anticipated, the vocal performance takes its cues from gothic metal by juxtaposing Fay's dominant presence with support from some of the blokes, who vary between standard singing and an understated death metal growl in the "Beauty and the Beast" style of Theatre of Tragedy. Fay's singing really is a highlight of the album, which isn't often the case in female-fronted metal bands, and helps to enhance the lightly melancholic feel of the album without getting quite as far as despair. The vocal melody takes on an Eastern tinge in the opener 'Lunacy,' later expanded on by an Arabian-themed instrumental section that shows off the band's full potential for the first time, and as the songs become generally more straightforward later on, she has no trouble adapting as the lead player, particularly in the softer 'Angels Cry' and 'Time So Long,' where you may very well develop an abrupt desire to marry her on the spot to have her as your caged singing bird for alway.
My personal highlight of the album is probably the grand title track, which skilfully combines death metal elements with an epic narrative and a seriously crazy instrumental section that even quotes the theme from Lloyd-Webber's 'Phantom of the Opera' musical, itself plagiarised from a much better song by Pink Floyd, all done to surprisingly brilliant effect. Even after these two longest songs are over, there's plenty to satisfy even the more prog-minded listeners, with some great acoustic guitar solos in 'Angels Cry' and the slightly folk-based 'Sailormen' that includes diverse instruments such as flutes, while the galloping and highly energetic rhythm of 'Around My World' makes it a sure-fire hit with heavy metal fans, the second part of the song essentially being an extended, melodic coda. Thomas and Nathanaël may not be the most original axemen around, their flair mainly being in manic and fantastically long guitar solos (appropriately at their most dominating in 'Time So Long'), but the John Petrucci style grinding riffs avoid being distractingly heavy for the music, before unleashing a significantly darker edge in the finale.
'The Endless Agony' is a great album for fans of interesting metal that avoids some of the usual pitfalls associated with the term "progressive." The female vocals vocals fit the tone better than could be achieved by any man, and fans of masturbatory guitar solos are guaranteed an hour's thorough going over.
2. Endless Agony
3. Angels Cry
4. Time So Long
5. Around My World Part I
6. Around My World Part II
7. Lost Time