- Year 2017
- Genre Black Metal
- Country USA
- Label Relapse Records
- Rating Solid
Of late, I’ve sort of come to terms with the idea of bands continuing to propagate a rehashed sound. Because for every band that follows an established sound or path, there will be more bands that are doing something different. Growth is an inevitable change that extreme music as a whole can never avoid. Case in point is the New York based four piece Black Anvil. These guys have been consistently evolving, exploring new directions with each new release, all the while maintaining their core black metal sound. Black Anvil is now set to unveil their fourth full length titled ‘As Was’ and this album is the most adventurous the band has ever been.
While not all change is welcome (actually 99% of the time, it is met with resistance), the deviation of Black Anvil from their original black / thrash rooted sound is one that has been heralded by the albums that have come before this, especially with 2014’s ‘Hail Death’. ‘As Was’ merely continues this progression and exhibits greater experimental tendencies from the band. Black Anvil as a band has always had a knack for opening a record with the most killer tracks and this time around it is no different. The openers On Forgotten Ways and May Her Wrath be Just offer a one-two black metal punch and the band offer memorable melodic leads laid over blackened tremolo storms. Sparse moments of atmosphere give way to some clean singing, which manages to add an emotional weight to the tracks.
An aspect about this record which is really commendable is the way the band gradually increase the level of experimentation through the course of the record. The tracks tend to get more progressive and less straightforward and this is initiated by the title track. Going for cleaner atmospheric elements, these tracks tend to incorporate traditional heavy metal licks to give them a strong first wave feel. The band’s history with melodic hardcore is also evident from some of the more mid paced tracks like An Elder has Learned Anew. Black Anvil do not completely do away with their vicious bite and tracks like Nothing continue to be examples of well written modern black metal, even with the melodic interlude that emerges midway through the track.
One common thread that seems to link this release with Black Anvil’s previous full length is the affinity for long tracks. While the previous release ran for over and hour and felt slightly bloated, here the tracks sound focused and concise despite the length. The long winded tracks here feel more like a necessity, to let all the atmospheric and melodic elements soak into the listener’s mind.
‘As Was’ is set to be one of those divisive albums among fans of Black Anvil. If you were anticipating the band to go back to the sounds of their earlier records, then this record is not for you. On the other hand if you don’t mind the band experimenting, this is a fresh and exciting modern black metal record. Though it might not be as “kvlt” as what came before, Black Anvil succeed in releasing something completely new and manage to elevate the band’s sound to a new level.