(Here we have Andy Synn’s review of the first full album by Germany’s Ancst.)
If the name Ancst is unfamiliar to you, don’t feel too bad about it. Though we have featured them on NCS before now, Moloch is the band’s first “proper” album release, following a lengthy and varied series of EPs, singles, splits, and compilations, which have, over the years, allowed the band to showcase their ever-evolving blend of Black Metal, Punk, Hardcore, and Drone.
What this means of course is that even those already familiar with the band and their “anti-fascist, anti-sexist, anti-religion, DIY” ethos might not know exactly what to expect from the German collective this time around, such is their history of criss-crossing and cross-pollinating genres with almost reckless abandon.
Well, you need wonder no more, because Moloch is one hell of an incendiary blast of utterly ferocious punk-edged Black Metal.
The opening one-two salvo of “Moloch” and “Behold Thy Servants” immediately sets the tone for the rest of the album – all seething, blackened riffs, pounding blastbeats, and subtle inflections of morose melody — followed in quick succession by the keening melodic tremolo assault of “The Skies of Our Infancy” and the switchblade savagery of “In Decline”, every track delivered with a brash, invigorating sense of righteous fury.
Yet whilst the scything tremolo runs, strafing snare blasts, and scalding, wounded vocals which dominate the album are as barbed and blackened as they come, the music on Moloch is also encrusted with the sort of blistering Punk and Hardcore influences tailor-made to provoke a great wailing and gnashing of teeth from the purists.
I’d even suggest, quite possibly to the horror of many, that there are several moments on here where the Germans hit upon a rich seam of punked-up, Melodeath intensity reminiscent of Hidden Hands… era Darkest Hour, most notably in the jagged, venom-tinged second half of “Strife” and the melancholy rage of “Human Hive”, while both “Devouring Glass” and the Death Metal-leaning “Turning Point” occasionally recall the chest-bursting metallic fury of their countrymen in Heaven Shall Burn (circa-Whatever It May Take), with whom Ancst can be said to share a similar musical and socio-political outlook.
“No More Words”, by contrast, is probably the most primal and “pure” dose of Black Metal on the entire record, leading into the venomous invective and tooth-grinding riffs of caustic closer “Lys”, which ties the album off in one neat, artery-closing bow.
It was only last year when I made the potentially divisive declaration that a lot (though by no means all) of today’s best Black Metal is being created by artists whose roots often lie in some very untraditional, un-kvlt places. But releases like Moloch continue to bear this out.
As furiously and ferociously blackened as anything I’ve heard in recent times, but possessed of a prominent Punk ethos and a grit n’ grime-crusted Hardcore heart, Ancst fully deserve to be held up as a prime example of a band upholding the central spirit and fire of Black Metal, without succumbing to the same-old corpse-painted clichés or blasé blasphemies in the process.
Moloch is out now and can be downloaded or ordered in various formats at Bandcamp: