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Anacrusis - Suffering Hour

1988 Active Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-06-30

One of the most under-appreciated bands in the history of metal, Anacrusis came onto the scene slowly, yet not without cause for alarm. While Suffering Hour does indeed sound as if it was recorded in a cave, the trademark elements of what would become a very distinctive band pop up in various spaces. If one can consider this the last demo, things can be put a little more in perspective. At face value, this could be one more thrash beast from the late 80's, but several key differences here push the envelope, allowing for one to look past the primitive sounds. John Emery's bass already stands out, as do the more-than-average riffs which dominate here. The drumming, while a tad over the top, is good, and gives the recording a rushed feel which is completely different than later efforts. Of course, the most important piece of this St. Louis, MO puzzle is the chameleon like quality of vocalist Kenn Nardi. Able to switch from good clean vocals to hellion shrieks in mid-phrase, you always know who you're listening to, even on this release. The songs aren't as creative here (you can pick out "the Slayer part", the "Pink Floyd" part) and neither are the lyrics (Frigid Bitch), but I bet this was recorded soon after high school with no budget alloted, which allows me to mete out an extra point. All in all, worth having to see an alternate take on the late thrash scene, and to hear the humble beginnings (see Voivod's War and Pain of a great metal band. An unfortunate postscript to this is that all of these albums are out of print, meaning they are very hard to find. Try Metal Blade mail order or ebay for ordering.

Anacrusis - Reason

1990 Active Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-06-30

It comes to no surprise that the first really distinctive Anacrusis album also is also where creative mastermind Kenn Nardi takes over the production reigns. Still primitive, still mighty thrashy, but also more emotive, and more demanding of respect. The songs incorporate more dynamics, while the lyrics take a more personal direction, and seem indicative of a very deep and troubled psyche. There also seems to be more experimentation here, as some songs seem out of step (Child Inside) with most of the album. This doesn't break up the flow, but rather what could have been monotony. There are a couple of slower spots (Wrong drags a little), but this is petty when looking at the whole picture. Good sense of dynamics, but I wonder what the album would have sounded like had either Chad Smith or Paul Miles played drums on this release. This is a question based on the good but sometimes overly busy playing of Mike Owen. You can feel the youthful energy he displays, but it also allows Reason to skirt the line a little too often. Positives would be the excellent basswork of one John Emery, and the increasingly eccentric vocals of Nardi. Closer to Suffering Hour in sound than to Manic Impressions, Reason is a step up in the Anacrusis evolution, but still a bit raw. The CD includes two bonus tracks which are worth having.

Anacrusis - Manic Impressions

1991 Metal Blade Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-06-30

Tortured Soul Kenn Nardi and crew entered a Wisconsin Studio in the winter of 1991 to create one of the finest records ever. There are several big changes here, most noticable being the excellent, cold, mechanical production, and the addition of Chad Smith on drums, who couldn't misplace a beat if he tried. These two factors make this an incredibly tight, focused album, something that was lacking on the first two. The guitar tone is mostly treble, which allows Emery's bass to just cut right through, which is to the benefit of all who hear, as his performance just blows me away every time I listen. Another reference to Voivod, as both bands made the step to DDD on their cyber-releases (Nothingface). What else can I say, the first three notes of the album are indicative of what is contained within, an aural buzzsaw, unrelenting until the final hi-hat fade closes the album. Lyrically, incredibly depressive, as madness and life (usually the former resulting from the latter) are explored very personally, with Nardi's delivery brought up a notch on both ends, his clean vocals becoming more pronounced as are his shreiks. A guitar tech-fest, exchanging the hyper looseness of Reason for razor sharp riffage. I usually find that perfection is attained at the cost of emotion, but that's not the case here, as you just feel the pain contained within. A mathematical trip into an intricate mind, Manic Impressions is the culmination of 4 extraordinary musicians in the first half of their finest hour. If you ever see this, buy it, period.

Anacrusis - Screams and Whispers

1993 Metal Blade Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-06-30

I remember when this came out at the radio station (WYSO YS, Ohio) and I walked in to find one of the DJs sleeping in the music library to this album. Not realizing at the time the effect that this album would come to have on me, I dismissed it as a quirk, only now realizing what he was feeling. While most reviews are somewhat factual, I'd say that more than 50% of these are based on raw emotional opinion. If that's the case, then most recordings will provide a different reaction based on the individual, environment, etc. Well, I don't know what the exact combination of all these influences was when I first heard this, because it just knocked me to the floor. Safe to say that this is one of my favorite albums, period, I personally own 6 copies of this tape, not counting the ones I bought for every person I thought would appreciate this album. Worlds apart from the first two releases, Screams retains the precision of Manic Impressions, but is a much warmer album, based (to my layman's ears) more in the midrange. Another shift in the drummer's chair doesn't affect the overall sound as much as it could have, given that Miles' style is fairly similar to Smith's, both drummers providing an interesting, yet appropriate, performance. While there are experimental pieces which fall a tad short of the high Anacrusis standard (the middle songs on both sides) the strength of those that work completely proves the necessity of this album. Again produced by Nardi, Emery's bass stands out again, due of course to equal parts performance and recording. As stated, drumming is exact, yet something is amiss with standard time here, Miles' accenting offbeats that make this work so perfectly. The angel/devil dichotomy vocals are in full form here, with Nardi giving chills on both clean and shriek vocal deliveries. Some use of keys (synth "hits") may be a bit much, but every time I hear Sound the Alarm, or Release, I'm only saddened by the fact that this master group dissolved, leaving no trace. Why these albums are discontinued while other crap can inundate the market makes me physically ill. Regardless, a hard to find album which is worth every penny. One can only look at bands such as Voivod to try and extrapolate as to what the future would have held for these guys.