Tags: ambience > Anarchic > Ast > bandcamp > black metal > Flenser > Panopticon > Skagos
Skagos proved they could handle massive compositions on their enlightening debut album, Ast, which is an important note when discussing Anarchic. A seven-part suite spread across two tracks, the Canadian black metal act released the first five movements on Bandcamp earlier in the year. Now the last two are being added in for over 65 minutes of almost-impenetrable music. Skagos has made substantial progress in the four years since their last album. Anarchic is flawed, but not without endearing qualities that makes the payoff worth the listening effort.
Each movement serves its purpose in the vision the band has for Anarchic, which deals with abstractions of time and the destruction of this planet. The concept isn’t always clear, partially because of the harsh tones on the vocals and lengthy periods without vocals. Movement four, “Spring Speaks Truth,” suffers from an abundance of nonsensical spoken word and grating melodic vocals. Lines like, “The soil is the seed’s universe. It is oblivious, as it longs and strains and reaches to sprout from the ground, to what lies beyond what it has always known,” ramble like the drug-induced dialogue from a philosophical student.
The other movements don’t get hurt by the same issues; in fact, some parts are enthralling in their natural beauty. The first movement, “The Darkling Plain,” manipulates feedback and reaches momentary bliss before the black metal takes over on the second movement. Musically, Skagos tries to mix each part up, so that there is clear distinction between them all. Each one moves into the next without awkwardness associated with lengthier songs that are pieced together.
With two tracks covering so much music, Anarchic can be daunting. Ast also had its denseness, though it was split up into digestible 10-15 minute chucks. Lengths like that don’t seem very easy to swallow, but compared to tracks twice as long, a song from Ast like “Blossoms Will Sprout From The Carcass” slides down smoother than chocolate pudding. Skagos wisely breaks up the hour-plus enough to incorporate everything from pleasant acoustic guitars and haunting female vocals to melancholy piano lines.
This kind of soul-searching black metal has become very popular over the past few years, as bands taunt the staples of the genre with ambience and substantial progression. Skagos could fit into the same category with Ash Borer and Ossein, though they stand apart from those acts with a few exceptions. Crisp vocals break up the sterile shrieking and yelling, minutes of hypnotic drum beats on the start of the second track trances the listener into a daze, and almost 20 minutes without a blast beat halfway through the album is easy for Skagos.
Some may claim that there’s a lot of fat that could have been sliced off the two tracks, though Anarchic may not have been as effective without it. Take away the ten minutes the band wanders through amateurish spoken word and screeching vocals on movement four, and this could have been a much more efficient album. An overall lyrical theme as complex as the end of the Earth should be represented in a boisterous way, as Skagos shows off on Anarchic. The album doesn’t always strike success, but Skagos goes all in and doesn’t succumb to following in another band’s footpath.
Label: Flenser Records
By Dan Marsicano