The scene in Austria seems a little bit incestuous and anyone involved either on album or live with prime exports Harakiri For The Sky seems to be heavily involved in plenty of other projects and a good family tree between bands could easily be constructed. We are currently just about to get a new Karg album and although just an EP and follow up to last year’s ‘Visions’ Anomalie are another hard-working band with cross affiliations due to several members playing with HTTS. None of these bands do things by half measures and you can expect intricate and involving works of post black metal all round. There is plenty of atmosphere found and dense sound with some fantastic guitar playing and a wealth of ideas within all their works and this half-hour’s worth of music is no exception to that rule.
Marrock is live guitarist for HTTS and along with a session bassist and drummer from them and Bifrost constructs music that is heavily visual and leaves you feeling very much like you are listening to a great story unfolding. ‘Visions’ had a very shamanic feel in places leaving me feeling that I was at one with nature as I soaked up its atmospheres and Integra starting with ‘Rebirth’ dips into these flavours once more with the sound of slow brooding drums, dripping water and prehistoric chants. One feels like they have dipped into bygone times but perhaps the cover art and song title itself suggests an evolution is about to take place. The opening track at almost ten minutes in length gradually builds with acoustic guitar and spoken vocals before exploding into a fertile and heaving canvas of quaking drums and urgent strimming guitars. The band can go from minimalism to a blazing cauldron almost effortlessly and they throw you right into one here with the vocals going from clean chants that are very much like a story-teller of old to some raw and angry hollers. “I am fire” is the cry of ancient man having just made a huge discovery that will change life the way he knows it forever and could be looked upon as a rebirth. Without access to full lyrics one can only make assumptions to the real story and significance here but everything about this is certainly epic and as our narrator cries out that they are the sun and the wind there is a feel of total invincibility about it all. There’s even time for a splash of piano at conclusion to soothe the fire down. Thunderous oppressive gravity slowly uncoils with ‘Aurora’ breaking like a heavy storm and creating a deluge. Here I find lyrics and it is a tale of spirits and the encroaching dawn “a celebration of the coming light until the blackness fades!” it really allows you to soak in both the stormy musical downpour and gain some understanding of the vision thematically behind it. We are summoned to “enter the void” and wonder where this journey is taking us next.
It is to ‘Temples’ which are built and during the course of this and the words “praise, adore, obey” one wonders if our primitive man has unfortunately stumbled upon religion. Musical heft is no less biblical and it is all incredibly dark and foreboding with it. Guitars melodiously peel and the vocals seethe within the blackness delivered in a way that reminds of everything from Behemoth to Secrets Of The Moon. There is plenty going on here within every facet of what we are hearing and although short in length it feels like we are in the midst of a really long page-turning tale. It all leads to final pare ‘Deliverance’ a fitting end in more ways than one and one gets the feeling that this is a work that at least in theme is far from an end.
If you are looking for something to get completely engrossed in Integra definitely doesn’t disappoint and will keep you occupied for quite some time as you scratch its many varied surfaces. I would say that Anomalie have come of age but as their musical journey has proven they were of it at the start and just continue to improve and show flashes of brilliance every step of the way. It’s a shame their tour with Naglfar and Schammasch is bypassing the UK, if you get the chance to catch it lucky you!
(8/10 Pete Woods)