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This album is just beyond words for me. There's so much going on all over the place that it's almost too much for the average listener to bear, but for those who can appreciate the atmosphere conveyed here, Anthems is a masterpiece above and beyond not just other metal releases, but other musical recordings period. I could totally put this next to the compositions of Bach and Dark side of the moon. It's really that freaking good. Anything negative you hear about this album usually comes from people who aren't really fans of music in general and tend to prefer bands that record their stuff in a Kvlt forest aka bedroom.
Every time I put on anthems (which is about five times or more a day for the last three years) I am in awe each and every time. The music is just so beautiful and yet dark at the same time, but this is not some kind of Opeth or Agolloch album. Anthems maintains brutal levels of intensity while mixing with Ihsahn’s spacey sounding keyboards at the same time. The feel upon allowing oneself to be brutalized by this opus is that of being ejected into a space time continuum of sorts and being blasted through the universe at light speed.
Furious blast beats are everywhere. Trym is the man. Few drummers can pull of such intense blasting and throw in fills every five seconds and make it work. All this infernal beating of snares and toms goes hand in hand with the furious guitar riffs, which aren't very discernible in the mix but you can still hear the buzz well enough, and once you actually try playing the songs yourself you realize how fucking technical they are, and not just for the sake of being technical like necrophagist. While all this is going on, the keys are in the background providing a wonderful atmosphere for the whole opus. I hear a lot of people say that the keyboards aren't as prominent on this album as nightside eclipse, but I think they just aren't as loud in the mix, but trust me they're as loud as they need to be, and they're implemented perfectly.
Ihsahns vocals are not very easy to hear, and sometimes I think that was intended. Once you read the lyrics, one can interpret that the music itself is a storm of questions and hypocrisies and revelations, and Ihsahns voice is lost in this blizzard trying to be heard by the night spirit. I'm one of those people who are fascinated by the universe and the meaning of existence, and these lyrics definitely deal with that. They also deal with Satanism, but Ihsahn had no belief in any kind of deity as far as I know. Once you read some of Fredrick Nietzsche you realize that the antichrist is in all of us. Our will to do what we please, and think for ourselves.
Each song contains an albums worth of awesomeness in my opinion, but listened to from beginning to end is the way to go. From the intro, to the brutal opening track, the ups downs, peak, and ending, the intensity and beauty never wavers. Encorcelled by Khaos is definitely my second favorite track on the album next to the loss and curse of reverence. It starts off fast, then eventually it slows down and after the "dark is my call" line you enter ethereal world of astonishing beauty. Definitely one of my favorite sections of the album, and it rolls along at a middle pace until everything stops for a second leaving nothing but a guitar riff, then the drums come in with all the other instruments and after that the blasting begins. The line"the mortal forces driving me, more noble more free... Take me" always sends shivers down my spine. I also strongly believe Acclamation of bonds is an underrated track. The song iself is as epic as any of the other tracks, and the mid section of the song has some of the darkest riffs I've ever heard in black metal, and it rolls at a steady pace until there's a section with some blast beats, and then most of the instruments pause and all you hear is E chord being strummed repeatedly while a bell rings in a background, and after that the rest of the instruments sweep in and hurl you into a vortex of darkness. I don't need to say anything about with strength I burn. That song speaks for itself, and you could not have picked a better outro for such an album than "the wanderer".
I've gone through many love affairs with bands and albums but so far this one is still at the top of the list. This may sound emo but this album is very emotional and like an awesome dude said in one of the reviews down there, the lyrics come alive in the music. For those of you who enjoy psychedelic drugs, I strongly recommend putting your Jefferson Airplane records aside and giving this a spin during your trip. It’s an amazing experience