Review: Horrendous – Anareta
You’d be hard pressed to find a better death metal band today than Horrendous.Their debut album, 2012’s The Chills, was a refreshingly catchy take on old school swedeath amidst a sea of mediocre Entombed imitators. The follow up, last year’s Ecdysis, was nothing short of incredible as both an album and an evolution of sound for the young band, and the metal world took notice. Their sophomore album took the number 3 spot on Decibel’s year end top 40 and generated quite a bit of buzz. A year later Horrendous are back with Anareta, a follow up to their critical and creative darling. Does it live up to the lofty expectations set by it’s predecessor?
The album opens up with “The Nihilist,” a song that comes roaring out of the gate with a punk-ish onslaught of power chords. It is immediately apparent that this is an entirely different beast than the one that came before it. The classic rock leanings are largely gone and are instead replaced with some of Death‘s more tech’d out inclinations, a substitution that becomes ever more apparent the deeper you get into Anareta. The next track, “Ozymandias,” is the longest track on the album by a hair and one of the absolute highlights on an album full of Everest high peaks. One of the things that really allows “Ozymandias” and runner-up in length “Acolytes” to shine is that extended song length; they weigh in just over 7 minutes but they never come close to outstaying their welcome. Instead it feels like the songs are given a chance to breathe and unfurl in a way that the shorter run times on Ecdysis didn’t allow.
The longest tracks may be jaw droppers, but the shorter songs aren’t exactly slouches. The instrumental “Siderea,” making an unusually early appearance for an instrumental at track 3, features an absolutely infectious melody that bores its way into your skull like a drill bit only to vanish before you realize what has happened. Meanwhile “Polaris” offers a slinky of mid paced riff that bounces back and forth before dropping into a thrashier midsection that eventually culminates in possibly the best bass riff on the album. Lead single “Sum of All Failures” lulls you in with an absolutely beautiful acoustic intro before being swept up like Dorothy’s house in a tornado of tremolo picks and thunderous bass kicks.
It all closes down with the heavy stomp of “The Solipsist (Mirror’s Gaze),” a song that lurches forward like a horde of pissed off elephants, only those elephants are proficient at playing guitar and wrote some super sweet harmonized riffs to get all of the other elephants stoked. Weird analogy aside, it’s a really fitting end to one hell of an album.
In death metal, an album can live or die by production. There are certain bands that revel in the dirty and gritty production because it suits their aesthetic and the filth they play (Pissgrave), but there’s something to be said for hearing every note from a buzz saw guitar with perfect clarity. Enter guitarist/vocalist Damian Herring, who mixed and mastered Anareta (as well as Blood Incantation‘s latest EP and Adversarial‘s new LP, to name a few favorites). Herring has once again delivered the musical goods with an album that sounds at once massive and perfectly balanced. Do yourself a favor and listen to this one with a good pair of headphones. If the bass doesn’t delight you, you’re a heartless garbage person.
I’ve lived with this album for close to a month now, and I do mean LIVED with it. Anareta has been a near daily companion since its arrival in my mailbox. It’s invaded my earholes at home, at work, at the gym, in my car, and even when it isn’t playing I find myself singing it or humming my favorite riffs. It’s a truly fantastic death metal album that has just gotten more and more enjoyable with each successive listen, even after a month of intimacy. Does it measure up to Ecdysis? It absolutely does, a feat that at best seemed improbable only a year removed from that album. Horrendous are proving one album at a time that they’re ready to conquer the death metal mountain, and I, for one, welcome our new East Coast overlords.