Anubis Gate – Anubis Gate
When it comes to complex and emotional music, it’s really hard to put even one sentence on paper unless it’s one describing how hard it is to do so. Anubis Gate’s fifth album poses such a problem, but it is one that I will try to face regardless of my own success or detriment. Whatever will transpire in the next few paragraphs, it will do in no way justice to the magnificence of “Anubis Gate”. Consider your asses warned.
Slightly alarmed as I was upon hearing that vocalist Jacob Hansen had left the band, I had faith they would find a suitable replacement and not shatter my dreams of another glorious record. Any caution melted away when an edited version of the track “Golden Days” appeared online and proved that replacement and long-term bassist of the band Henrik Fevre proves as equal a force behind the microphone as his revered predecessor. I would even say I prefer his warmer, deeper voice to Hansen’s chilly high-pitched wail. “Golden Days” also confirmed that the band had not deviated from its previous musical direction of classy and polished progressive metal with lots of room and attention for melodic splendor. It’s a favorite amongst favorites on an album that knows no weakness or downfall.
For the first time in quite a while Anubis Gate hasn’t worked with an abstract concept, although I’d say there’s a prevailing sense of nostalgia and melancholy throughout the nine songs that are offered. Nothing too depressive here, but rather contemplative. No easy answers, but ponderous questions. This album is a companion to life as we know it: a rock and shoulder for moments of emotional upheaval or turmoil. Introspection in distortion. You get the point. The lyrical content balances on the edge of hope and despair, but always seems to come out on the positive side. From the beginning on we are urged to “Fly into the sun” in “Hold Back Tomorrow”. Yet, no two songs feel the same. “The Re-Formation Show” is an eerily twisting affair, both unsettling and comforting. Highly accessible is “Facing Dawn”, a bright light at the end of a long tunnel. Even the closing “Circumstanced” finds some shed of clarity in an otherwise overwhelmingly downbeat opus.
Anubis Gate has a knack for mixing soft with heavy material. A slow and gloomy track like “World In A Dome” is followed by the crushing “Desiderio Omnibus”, boasting another punchy chorus. In the same way, the Danes relent from the gripping gusto of “Golden Days” with the mellow but haunting “Telltale Eyes”, an excellent showcase for Fevre’s heartfelt croon. “Oh My Precious Life” comes from another, quite bizarre, planet, but oddly fits in with the rest of the album. It’s certainly a grower, which doesn’t mean that it becomes any less weird. Compared to previous masterpieces “Andromeda Unchained” and “The Detached” I’d say this one is more focused, maybe because it lacks the possible strain of an overarching concept. It feels like an Anubis Gate record, but another very special and idiosyncratic one that can stand its own in an exceedingly rich discography.
Although the album feels complex and abstract, there is a layer of familiarity with which one can connect immediately, mainly courtesy of “Facing Dawn” and “Golden Days”. And once the link is made, enough room is left for discovery with each subsequent listen. A marvelous achievement and a deeply personal experience, “Anubis Gate” should erase all doubt about who’s the best progressive metal player on the field right now. In a month and year full of impressive releases, Anubis Gate stands out with no signs of slowing down. Album of the year? We’ll see, but it very well might be.
Arno’s Rating: 4.75 out of 5