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Anagnorisis - "Beyond All Light" (CD)

Anagnorisis - "Beyond All Light" CD cover image

"Beyond All Light" track listing:

1. Eulerian Path (7:38)
2. This Cursed Blood (5:53)
3. Death Mimics Life (9:31)
4. Abyss (6:36)
5. Bountiful Godless Life (7:36)
6. Forever Night (9:16)

Reviewed by on August 14, 2013

"It’s not often that an album gets better as it goes on, but that’s what Anagnorisis falls into with 'Beyond All Light.'"

Austin Lunn has gotten acclaim the past few years for his one-man project Panopticon and his supporting role in Seidr. A few years before these two bands put Lunn in the spotlight, he was the vocalist and guitarist for Anagnorisis. The band released one album, 2007’s “Overton Trees,” before Lunn departed from the band. As he was one of the main songwriters behind “Overton Trees,” it could have been difficult for the band to get back on its feet. Six years, and a few lineup changes, later, they roar back to existence with “Beyond All Light.”

The band has split the album into two parts, with each part getting three songs. Their sound is focused on the black metal, with lengthy songs providing space for the instruments to flesh their bleak melodies out. An extra element to the band is a full-time keyboardist, who provides necessary ambient touches. There are times, especially in the first half of the album, where the keys get buried too deep behind the rest of the instruments. Avid listeners or those with access to headphones will have a better time adjusting to this contrast.

Though there is a personal preference for the latter songs, that’s not to discount the early portions. “Eulerian Path” simmers with a menacing backdrop that is torn open by a bout of dark magic a few minutes in. “Death Mimics Life” gets close to 10 minutes, yet keeps a listener’s interest with a bounty of tempo changes and overpowering double bass drumming. Keeping to the spirit of having “Beyond All Light” divided into two parts, the end of the song fades out to separate the two sides of the album.

Starting with “Abyss,” and concluding with “Forever Night,” the album hits its high point and doesn’t descend from it for over 20 minutes. Anagnorisis calms down with the relentless tremolo-backed noise, letting the keys come to the front to provide charged orchestration. “Bountiful Godless Life” gets the most attention on that front, while stretching their black metal roots out with a peaceful acoustic guitar-led break and a jazzy mood given to the final minutes.

The keys do bolster the orchestrated side of the band, though this isn’t symphonic black metal. Some may hear early Emperor in the music, though it never gets too tasteless or over-the-top. Having keys present gives credibility to the band’s ambitious nature, which is a constant theme throughout “Beyond All Light.” Anagnorisis pulls this off with more efficiency on the back-end of the album than they do in its initial stages.

It’s not often that an album gets better as it goes on, but that’s what Anagnorisis falls into with “Beyond All Light.” The second part opens up their incorporation of the keys, and this in turn puts a dynamic spin on their sound. The raw production values hold back some of the more brash orchestration, a minor disappointment. “Beyond All Light” has its sights set past traditional methods, though it felt like the band could have pushed out even further for more rewarding results.

Highs: Excellent second half of songs, band does orchestral black metal without it coming off cheesy, successfully gets across a bleak atmosphere

Lows: Keyboards are underused in the first half of the album, the album takes a few songs to really start hitting its high point, some of the more subtle touches can be lost due to the production

Bottom line: Anagnorisis puts an interesting spin on black metal with their second album, "Beyond All Light."

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)