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Repetitive music in danger of being bland & boring - 60%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, December 29th, 2016

Antaeus' first album in just over 10 years would have been a hotly anticipated affair for fans and reviewers alike - but for me, well, it's a disappointment, full stop. I had expected that the band wouldn't necessarily be as powerful as it had been when the guys released "Blood Libels" but I never thought their sound would be as drained and hollowed out as it is here on "Condemnation". Nor did I expect that Antaeus would strike out on a new musical tangent or stray away from their usual hyper-blasting approach - the problem though is that with their sound and style emptied of substance and energy, they're now starting to sound as though they're playing on autopilot.

The nine tracks go by in a blur and there's not much difference from one song to the next, with the exception of "Something Wicked This Way Comes" which is an all-ambient micro-piece segueing straight into the first track. The album is best heard as one meta-work of nine chapters all riffing on Antaeus' familiar themes of occult ritual worship, hate and self-mutilation, and a view of the apocalypse being close at hand with humanity's destruction being all but inevitable. As the songs whoosh by, some of the old savage and brutal Antaeus appears in "Watchers" (with that track's booming riffs) and "Symmetry of Strangers" (in its slower, doomy parts) but more often than not I get the feeling the band is on a mad instinctual rush towards the nearest bottomless abyss to fall right into it without understanding why it has to do that.

The last song "Abeyance" points in a direction of a hellish ambient industrial death machine and if Antaeus had relied less on repeating themselves over and over and tried something a bit different but no less sinister, they may have found a newer, darker energy and inspiration. Surely the irony of always taking the music to its elemental extremes yet at the same time staying within their own particular niche, repeating one extreme path over and over, must have struck the musicians while recording the album: the ever-present danger that looms as a result is that the music can end up ... bland and boring.