Anticosm – Alcoholic Darkness 2007

This demo has probably the most incongruous aesthetic/content combination I’ve ever seen. The title of it really has no resemblance to what appears on the disc; instead of the drunken, idiot black/thrash that you would expect, you actually end up with surprisingly multifaceted, and, even more strangely, melodic black/death metal with extremely capable technical performances. There’s a huge number of ideas that this band is kicking around in every song, and while they don’t always mesh together perfectly, every element on its own is very well written and performed.

There seems to be a sort of inverse relationship to the songs here where the least ‘ambitious’ (at least as far as additional elements above and beyond the black/death mold go) are the best executed, and as more and more atypical elements get piled on, they get less satisfying in a purely metallic sense. That said, I still like to hear the sound of the band experimenting, and the experimentation that Anticosm does is much better than the experimentation that other demo-level bands generally do. However, I still like the simplest music on this demo the most, which is probably why I find the opening track, ‘Skinless’, to be the best. Aside from a rather strangely placed section of acoustic guitar, it’s the most straightforward death/black/thrash metal track on this CDr, which doesn’t really spend any time waffling around with progressive elements where it can just punch you in the head repeatedly with blast beats and solid riffs.

‘You’re Dead’ proceeds much in the same manner (though with yet another strange acoustic break), but ‘Black Hearts’ is where it gets weirder, with even more acoustic sections, a big keyboard presence, and a general sound of melodic black/death metal like some of the newer American melodeath (not Gothenburg-influenced) bands like Apothys. It’s good, and it’ll please a lot of people, but the placement is just so strange; after a couple blistering tracks we’re suddenly faced with this highly melodic, clean piece which lacks much of the brutality of the preceding songs. ‘The Reaper Comes’ is more straightforward but still maintains the sense of melody of the previous track, which is better, but still not ideal. The next couple tracks go in the same vein: straightforward but still more melodic than the first couple.

I’m not sure if I’m somehow spoiled by expecting Sarcofago-worshiping retardation, but I honestly just think that Anticosm is better at grinding out simple, brutal songs than they are experimenting with Mystifier-type keyboards and acoustic passages. It’s not that unconventional stuff isn’t cool, and Anticosm even proves that sometimes they can really pull that off well, like the vocal-only ending of ‘Skinless’. I just think that some of those weirder elements are better when they fit the more ‘brutal’ paradigm of the first couple tracks. Acoustic breaks, keyboards; they just don’t seem to fit. Or, at least, they don’t seem to fit to someone like me; it could be very different for anyone else.

Production on this demo is quite good, actually approaching mid-level studio quality, with each instrument faithfully represented in the soundstream. Everything is played excellently, and the vocal performances are genuinely of note as being very strong, alternating between black metal rasp and lower growl like many others, but actually being employed effectively. The demo as a whole is highly professional and sounds like it could be a full-fledged EP released by a decent-sized label. It makes me curious as to why Anticosm hasn’t been picked up yet; they have all the makings of a very popular, enduring band, even if some of their ideas are a bit messy now.

While it sounds like I’m picking on this demo a lot, I’m really not. I like pretty much all of what Anticosm is doing; it’s just the way that it’s assembled that’s sometimes troubling. As it stands, this is really a good demo from a band that truly is worth every metalhead’s time just to see that the underground metal scene really IS still putting out strong artists in this day and age. So, even though I have my personal reservations, I really recommend ‘Alcoholic Darkness 2007’ to all those reading this. Even if you don’t like everything that Anticosm is doing, you’ll most certainly find the majority of it to your taste.

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~ by noktorn on January 8, 2008.

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