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Thornwinged - 80%

ApochWeiss, July 14th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, Independent

Anguish Sublime is a band that has a storied past outside of the studio. Formed back in October of 1998 in Novi Sad, Serbia by guitarist/composer Alleksandar Crnobrnja and vocalist/lyricist Árpád Takács, the duo, joined by a myriad of other members throughout the years, played a number of shows starting in 2004 by the time their first demo was released that very same year, up until 2007. In 2008, they were joined by bassist Andras Ispan Bandi, completing the line-up as a trio ever since. However, it wasn't until 2014 that they would finally unleash their self-released EP titled Unveilling the Origin. Now, a little over a year later, we are presented their follow-up EP, Thornwinged. But does this digital only release stand as one well worth checking out, or have the years proven to not be fruitful for those involved?

While the group claims to play an atmospheric death metal style, a decent explanation for their previous effort, Thornwinged actually shows the band drifting away from that idea, treading into folk metal territory at times, even expressing some black metal tendencies along the way. The introductory track "Black Moon Diadem" establishes the former a bit as it plods along with a subtle nightmarish marching theme to the middle-eastern atmosphere suitable to an early Nile release. "Thornwinged" tackles a mid-tempo blackened groove to the mournful leads in the riffs akin to ...en their medh riki fara... by Falkenbach. The additional keyboards in the background only amplify the sorrow felt in the deep pulse of the bass guitar and slight buzz of the leads that can bring a slightly noticeable air of doom metal to the hooks used in the main verses.

Then there's "Heart of the Void", the longest track of the release, and for good reason. Right from the start, it's clear this is meant to be epic with the burdening mixture of gritty eighties heavy metal guitar work and neo-classical traits in the keyboards. Things slowly pick up, shifting to a gallop from the drums that help re-establish that folk metal touch encompassed in a very dreary world that only continues to grow darker. "Rainfall Epiphany", however, quickly casts this EP into another direction. The melodic tendencies and atmospheres are there, though this track leaves behind most of the folk and blackened elements for more of a My Dying Bride approach. The pace plods along, and the slower chords and held notes work with the solid drum presence and loud click of the bass kicks to create a truly crushing environment that only continues to grow more depressing the deeper in you get.

Thornwinged is a much more aggressive departure from the melodic Unveilling the Origin, and it's a welcome change of pace. Hopefully the traces of folk and black metal influences aren't just coincidental, but rather an indication of their furthering growth as a unit, as the atmospheres Anguish Sublime manage to weave with them are really impressive. Thornwinged stands as a very well orchestrated release that, even though each track has it's own world going on, it all still seems to fit into one flowing piece connected between two region-rich instrumental segments that tie it all together nicely. The best part is that you can grab this recording from the group's Bandcamp account [at the time of writing this review] as a name your price download, so there's no real reason not to check out the latest from Anguish Sublime and finally hear what this long-running band brings to the table.

Review originally posted at Apoch's Metal Review.

A Better Dose of Anguish - 75%

doomknocker, July 10th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, Independent

When last I left this Serbian melodeath horde, they left me somewhat entertained and pleased, even if the creative end result was a bit all over the map and rough around the edges. But even at its most inane there was enough going on for me to understand (if not simply realize) that, given enough time and tempering, they could really make something special. That was the initial belief, anyway, and it's not their fault (entirely) that theirs is a sound that's hard to perfect and make stand out amongst the rest, so on that I couldn't, and still can't, give them any grief. So that said, showing a remarkable amount of consistency , they've unleashed an EP of brand new work for us to feed upon...

After an effectively mood-setting intro piece, we find the sublime anguishers attempting a more compacted approach to their method of extreme metal, one more atmospheric and seemingly black metallic in tone above what I'd originally partook in in "Unveiling the Origin". Tempos are more subdued and middle ground, the central musical framework feels riff-driven and darker and an increase in clean singing over the detaching growling of before has been utilized, which to me sounds far more organic and easy to take in given this kind of thing (there are still guttural utterances, so it's not a complete departure in the end). All that said, and all that put together, "Thornwinged" is through and through a good and, dare I day, pleasant listen that didn't lose me all throughout (something the previous work did here and there). If nothing else, this definitely improves upon the previous album's limitations by way of feeling plentifully cohesive and complete, confident in itself and its own striding creative level with no sense of the confusion that earlier works tended to suffer with/from.

The aesthetics of the EP finds the material easy to get into and plenty clear. There's a lushness to the presentation, a further creative deepening that, while not offering a whole hell of a lot under its surface, will at the very least entertain those of the melodic persuasion of extreme metal. Even when the band is off mark (which happens on occasion, of course...), they're able to find a way to pull it all back in and make the the best of it from that one stumbling point onward. As it's only four tracks long, the length of it is less ideal than you'd like it to be (when you get real deep into the tracks and find that the embracing keyboard outro in "Heart of the Void" is the end of it, you're quite surprised and a bit bummed that that's all you're getting from this so far!), but that's really the worst of it. In its more centralized form, "Thornwinged" still delivers some real fantastic goods where it counts, and if it's what you're looking for in the end then this will certainly please.

At the end of the day this was a serious improvement over the "Unveiling...", with a few more steps of stylistic growth still needing to be taken before they can unleash something to seriously sink your fangs into. Next album, maybe? Is this a precursor to that? More on this as it develops.