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A good effort, but not quite there. - 65%

Dirant, February 19th, 2008

Ansur – Axiom

Sometimes a record comes along that has potential, but somehow on account of too many small details which could have been improved upon fails to go that extra mile. «Axiom» displays a young band with sufficient technical abilities and a fondness for the progressive. The effort is there, the good intent, the mandatory odd time signatures, and the whole nine yards, but I can't sit down and enjoy this album although I really wish I could.

The riffing style is varied, and sounds like a mixture of mid-tempo death and thrash riffs of the more progressive kind, leaning towards being melodic but not quite. The riffs have no trace of aggression in them, which is okay as the overall theme has nothing to do with anger. They utilise a lot of unusual chords, which in theory serves them well in building the unique sound and atmosphere needed for a concept album with an alien post-apocalyptic theme. I say “in theory” because I can hear potential in it, but not realisation, I sort of wish for a more desolate and empty staring feeling than is actually achieved.

There is some subtle use of synthesizers which in this rare case actually helps the atmosphere quite a lot, usually stuff like that serves as a mean of sounding like totally pretentious douche bags. This is best shown in “Interloper” when he says “Are we meant to solve this code, or...” where the music turns more eclectic in respect to the lyrics than elsewhere on the album.

Mostly throughout the album the singer uses the kind of effect where it sounds like he has recorded it through a telephone or something like that. So the vocals are really dull sounding, and it works sometimes, other times you wish it would be more varied. The vocals act sort of like a narrator for the story, describing what's going on. I won't go into details here, but the whole concept and the lyrics are interesting, mostly as a backdrop for the music. I guess they're going for a sort of larger than life feel to the whole thing, music and lyrics, not quite getting there but receiving points for the effort.

The lead guitar is technically brilliant, but not always becoming. Sometimes it sounds like the stuff ultimate hero guitarists play between the lessons in instructional DVD's. The lead guitarist is obviously a skilled guitar player, but could play more aptly.

The album was recorded at the guitarist's home studio, so in one way it's not fair to mention the production as a draw back, but on the other hand this isn't the special Olympics either. Every instrument is audible, and the sound is much cleaner than you would expect, but somehow it feels like the sound is muffled and not really shining through. If it hadn't been for the lead guitar sound I'd half expect that the microphones were placed in the room next to the instruments. It feels like you can hear the silence behind the music, and that never serves a good production. I can crank it up all I want it still doesn't sound loud. Think about “Left Hand Path” and imagine the complete opposite.

I've listened to it over and over again, hoping it would suddenly hit me but
as you might have guessed, I have no strong disdain for this album, nor do I feel it hits the sweet spot. But I think they're close, and I have high hopes for the next one. However, at the moment there are too many small things that annoy me or bother me. If you're not on a tight budget and want to check out something a bit out of the ordinary, I suggest you buy this album. Most of the things I dont't like is a matter of personal taste, and I can really picture someone loving this album.