Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Against Nature - The Anxiety of Influence (2007) / 92%

Baltimore & Brenner trilogy, part II: No problem

John Brenner reformed or took back the leadership of Revelation in 2007 after more than a decade under the mantle of Dennis Cornelius (Memory Driven, Place of Skulls) but this project was formed three years before that. At first, they were an offshoot of Revelation, a sort of kitchen sink for their weirder vibes since while their older brother can safely be categorized as progressive doom, they never got truly truly demented. They're one of those bands with such an extensive and varied discography that they're a bit scary to discover and embrace. Sadly, the band seems to be dead nowadays as Brenner has started a new charming project called Mole Hill that's continuing in the blues rock/classic rock steps Against Nature were taking since like five or six albums (2010 to 2012!). It's possibly for the best that the musicians are taking their time for a change.

They're not really going against their nature here (excuse the easy pun), it's really more an extension of their sound than a total turnaround into something else. This album is quite unique in their catalog since it's only composed of two very long tracks. Action at a Distance only contained three tracks but it's sort of instrumental ambient/space rock album so that's sort of an exception (a great one, if I may add). The songs are not vocal centric at all, there's barely any lyrics, I mean the first half of “Aporia”, the fist track is entirely instrumental. You're not expecting the vocals to come either, you're not like “ehhh, it's already been eight minutes and it's getting boring...”, no, no, no. They're so tight instrumentally that the vocals are almost unnecessary and they know how to fill a long song with a lot of creative songwriting. Also, let's be frank, John Brenner is first and foremost a guitarist, his vocals aren't quite good but he knows how to make them work when he uses them.

The trio composed of all three current Revelation members has obvious chemistry and so much talent. Bert Hall jr. is a terrific bass player, one of the best and most underrated I've ever heard, he's unreal. The bass is high in the mix since it's apparent that they preach at the altar of Rush and Geddy Lee every day. Brenner's vocals are clean, simple yet effective but yeah, his guitar riffs and solos are the real deal here. The dude knows how to write varied music with a lot of atmosphere while keeping things grounded and cohesive.

The Anxiety of Influence still has definite doom metal roots and it's perhaps one of their best albums I heard (I have yet to hear them all unfortunately, that's quite an endeavor). It's sort of a reconstructed traditional doom metal as it's using a lot of retro influences, there's even a big blues section in the second song (a prediction of things to come from the band) and there's lot of heavy prog too. The desert stoner rock sound is there even though they're from Maryland! I can hear some Kyuss as it's heavy bluesy metal/rock with a desolate vibe. Still, their sound isn't sad at all, it's groovy, almost joyful and with a lot of soul and passion. They finish the album on a very calm and serene note and it has some sort of dark beauty.

Sure, it's perhaps not the best album to start with Againt Nature because of its non traditional track-list. They have a bunch of shorter and streamlined progressive doom releases like Appease or Safe Dissonance which can serve as an introduction to the band but I believe this one of their finest releases. Against Nature is still quite unknown and it's a damn shame. They have a lot of extremely good material to check out. It's all on Bandcamp and it's cheap!

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