Marrok who plays live with Harakiri For The Sky as well as having in the past shared the stage with The Vision Bleak has steered us through a couple of Anomalie albums previous to this in a relatively short period of time. They have both gone down fairly well around these parts, the last ‘Refugium’ described as “emotionally-charged, angst-ridden post-black metal.” Marrok has expanded things since that was released in 2015 to a full line-up including both live and studio members of the Harakiri clan as well as players in the likes of Bifrost and Agrypnie. Obviously this should have led to a fuller artistic vision as well as kick-starting the outfit to be able to perform in the live environment too. With this new ‘Vision’ it appears the Austrians are as ever looking in on themselves for a sense of self-fulfilment and are indeed undertaking a musical journey in more than one sense of the word. Spirit-walking is the name of the game here as far as themes are concerned and it’s time to head out on the quest with them and see what we can find ourselves.
Divided into 7 tracks or Visions we start around a campfire as the voyage commences on ‘Towards The Sun.’ Acoustic guitars and a shamanistic vibe gives us a feeling of bygone times and being left devoid of the trappings of mankind and the blot that it has left upon the earth, we are at one with nature here. The stirring strains of the rest of the instruments hone in with rugged vocals and a large cinematic feel of melody behind them. Post whatever you wish to call it seems fitting as the track sprawls out and goes between movements that are full of weight and gentler more mesmerising ones. Spoken vocals add to a sense that you are in midst of an epic trailblazing novel, I can’t shift a feel of Americana roots from this and quests by the likes of Nechochwen but this is not the case throughout the album by any means. Any calming thoughts from soothing clean choral parts are swept aside by raging drums as everything surges in on ‘The Wanderer’ and the landscape boils over with turbulence as the solitude of camp is long left behind. As one would expect from members of the aforementioned the guitar-work weaves away with a tenacious grip as the vocals angrily bellow out the words “this is my sacrifice,” something you certainly get a sense of here. The landscape takes on another dimension on the albums longest vision ‘A Monument’ and it is like some long deserted edifice has been discovered from another age. Perhaps we are in a future dystopian world and it is a cold steel industrial plant as that is what I get a sense of here from a melody that is not a million miles off Shining Sweden’s ‘Svart Industriell Olycka.’ I also find a likeness vocal phrasing and with guitar textures here to recent Secrets Of The Moon; it’s all kind of odd but I think it’s fair to say if you like either bands you should certainly dig this monstrous number.
Having given us three distinctive shifts I really felt that the second half of the album settled down into a given and more distinctive formula. Not that it’s anything less interesting about it but a sense of more atmospheric doom pervades and takes me off to a Finnish wilderness and the sort of deep, dark forest of a band like Swallow The Sun. It’s a dense place but far from impenetrable, in fact I found this album a lot more accessible than I expected to. There is definitely more of a chill about the atmosphere here rather than one of raging heat amidst the ‘Starless Nights’ in the sky and guitar textures add a near sense of wonderment as feet are stomped to keep warm. I’m not entirely sure if this is a journey with a complete conclusion and with final part ‘At One With The Earth’ I get a feeling that it is one that could easily be continued. Perhaps though our traveller has found some companionship as the addition of some female vocals suggest. A break and some comforts may well be in order before he hits the path again.
Whether I interpreted this in any sense of the way Visions has been designed it took me with it and told a story that I found an enthralling one and quite a page turner. The line-up expansion has definitely worked wonders here and the sense of maturity has been defined showing just what Anomalie are truly capable of. This is territory well worth venturing into.
(8/10 Pete Woods)