Black metal comes in all shapes and sizes. Like the Flight of Sleipnir (review coming soon), Black Anvil synthesizes many influences like melodic black metal, melodic death metal, thrash metal, heavy metal, hard rock, and even a little metalcore, into a single, cohesive sound that sound smooth and unique.
The clean vocals on this album have been the main talking point of many other reviews. They do, in fact, provide a very unique aspect to the album. However, I think the new vocals are just the icing on the cake. For those wondering, the vocals range from a sort of melodic metalcore style you would hear on a mid 2000s Killswitch Engage or All That Remains album to Viking metal-esque vocals to some more robotic sounding, Paul Masdival vocals.
Black Anvil still provides the great riffs and melody they are known for, but the overall tone is very different than other albums. As a black metal band on the more thrashy/melodic side, Black Anvil has always worshiped the riff as the centerpiece of most of their songs. On As Was, though, the atmosphere and slow build seems to be the main aspect of the music. Now, I’m not saying they’re trying to be Panopticon. Their music still remains very riff-based and concrete. I guess the change I’m trying to describe is this: instead of relying on riffs, constant energy and brutality, things that immediately, and often times, cheaply, tell us “HEY THIS MUSIC IS INTENSE”, Black Anvil dials back their sound and relaxes into a more powerful version of themselves that isn’t afraid to be human and beautiful. After a blast beat section, guitarist Jeremy Sosville will bless our ears with a gorgeous, reverby clean section. The songs build toward bigger moments. The tone is slicker and more appealing. Unlike, a lot of black metal, this music makes you want to listen to it. It doesn’t make you uncomfortable. It’s well-written, sophisticated, and maintains it’s sense of passion and feeling without resorting to genre-cliches or lazy, unthoughtful maximalism. This is hard rock/black metal album Satyricon wishes they made.
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