Horrendous – Anareta (2015)

Voted Decibel’s best metal album of 2015 (out of forty others) you really don’t need me to tell you to pick up this Junior effort from this US collective of former collegians. But oddly enough, I’m not reviewing this Horrendous record because it’s the top record from an (overly expensive but quite loyal to the genre) US magazine, I’m reviewing it because it was literally next at the bottom of my list. It just happened to be in the folder, so it’s time has come. Getting to the record, I’m immediately being hit by two things: melody and progression. I don’t feel that the “death metal” tag works for these guys anymore, at least not on this record, which is almost completely progressive death metal in the vein of early Cynic and latter-era Death. In fact, it’s time to change not only the “Death Metal” tag to “Death Metal/Progressive Death Metal” that adorns Death’s profile on the site, they’ll also have to change the “similar acts” section as this sounds absolutely nothing like their previous material. For instance, my mind is simply being blown away right now by an instrumental called “Siderea” (3:43) which is downright marvelous, just as it goes into a heavily crafted piece entitled “Polaris” (4:31) which is definitely doing Schuldiner justice. Unexpectedly, melodies can be found ebbing through every single piece of this complex tapestry, especially when the guitar solos come into play and decorate the sky with multifaceted diamonds of all shapes and colors. It’s absolutely mesmerizing from a musical perspective, and could even mark the band as Death Mk. II. I almost feel that if Schuldiner had been able to keep going and hadn’t gotten snuffed out by such a cruel and remorseless entity, we might have had something that sounds just like this.

With Anareta, it doesn’t matter as to whether or not the songs are long pieces in the vein of “Ozymandias” (7:19) or shorter cuts in the vein of the instrumental and previously mentioned “Polaris” because every single track gets the right amount of attention and is displayed beautifully within the context of the disc. Horrendous doesn’t just give you a handful of tracks, they give you a canvas of brilliantly executed compositions that work to deliver with each and every note. It’s still death metal, and lyrically the themes might still be grotesque. I can’t really make out the vocals, and they feel like another instrument to the formula; so it doesn’t matter – but it just doesn’t feel like death metal in the grueling and monstrous sense to me. It’s still very potent, furious and full of carnage, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like a complete overhaul of the face with a butcher’s knife. Maybe “Sum Of All Failures” (5:38) gets a little closer to the roots, but the record still overflows with melody and precision even then. It’s definitely intelligent death metal that some people will use to brag about how damn smart they are. They already do it enough with “Nu-Atheism” and “Scientism” on the internet, so this might serve as more fuel for the “look at my big words and knowledge of psychological terms on wikipedia.” fire. I don’t know, but all I know is that we’re living in a really ridiculous world right now and I’d rather not diverge too much from the subject. Which is a truly awesome and highly memorable release. I know that I use the word “memorable” and “noteworthy” quite a bit, but both could be used to describe this release, which you will remember and want to make a note of. But let’s play the devil’s advocate for a minute as I’ll address the issues that people might have with such an album. If you’re a fan of the traditional Swedish approach, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for. These guys were once compared to Dismember, but you’re not going to find that here. It’s not horror-influenced, there are no creepy riffs and it’s devoid of any real trauma or terror. It’s one of those definite “brutiful” discs that you’ll either love or hate, and I’m on the side that finds it quite ravishing as far as music is concerned.

There’s certainly more thought going into this kind of music than there is in the simplicity of modern pop or hip-hop music, yet those are heavily advertised and forced into the minds of people everyday. Very few popular songs have a real sense of composition and even the ones that utilize guitars rarely play anything more than a few simple riffs. Though it is possible to write a simple song with a catchy little chorus and make millions, where is the art in that? Where is the purpose? You’re nothing more than a little puppet making music at the beck and call of a corporation…and really, where is the fun in that? Why become a pawn on the chessboard and sell yourself short for a life of fame, glory, severe depression and a possible addiction to painkillers? But that’s why I respect this genre, and hard-working gentlemen like these guys and Vehemence who know the hard work that it really takes to craft an album. They realize that it’s about multiple arrangements and multiple takes, making sure that every last piece of the disc sounds just right – every vocal and riff have to be perfect – or at least as close as humanly possible. Have you ever made an album before, reader? Let me tell you, it’s a process. It’s like preparing for an exam sometimes. You have to know what you want to express and convey that as well as you possibly can. Everything has to be perfect, you want to make the highest score that you can. You want to achieve proficiency within your own mind, where you can say, “I literally made the best record I could make.” That’s what I feel Horrendous have done here. Now I’m not sure if they’ll continue to traverse this style on the next record, but it goes without saying that they’ll have to work even harder to craft something that hits as well as this one. Anareta is quite timeless, and to be extremely honest with you, I never thought the band that crafted The Chills would go onto such a level of greatness. I saw promise with them even then, but not THIS MUCH. If you’d talked to me back in 2012, I would have still said, “It’s a good record, but it’s not my favorite.” Fast-forwarding to now, I’d definitely consider this one of my top records of the year and in death metal, this is going to tie between Vehemence this year. As a matter of fact, both bands should tour together and show the world that America still has what it takes to put death metal on the map.

Death metal is very much our genre. The Swedes have their flavor, but we created Cannibal Corpse, Death and Deicide. We’re responsible for that movement. So even if our country is literally falling apart right before our eyes, at least we can still play death metal just as good as we could when we created it. We’re also responsible for Core, but let’s just keep that one in the closet, okay? America was clearly drunk at the time, so we can’t hold anything against her for that… (Coughs) But enough of my blabbering. Go buy this damn album, which these gentlemen have worked painstakingly on for the listening pleasure of the entire world. They didn’t just make one copy and sell it for a million dollars to one guy on eBay like one rap group (who should not be named) they made it to be enjoyed by all. Very few record these days are worth your money, but Anareta is one of them. The Grim Tower highly recommends it and that should really go without saying.

(8 Tracks, 45:00)

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