It makes some sense that New York’s Anicon have partnered with Gilead Media for the release of their debut album, Exegeses, which happens this coming Friday. The band includes drummer Lev Weinstein of Krallice (and Geryon, among other groups) as well as bassist Alexander DeMaria, who performs live with Yellow Eyes. Apart from the connections between those bands and Gilead Media, Exegeses displays certain qualities that make it a natural fit for the kind of dark and unusually distinctive music in which Gilead tends to traffic.
In addition to the impressive rhythm section identified above, Anicon includes the group’s founding members Nolan Voss and Owen Rundquist, who share both guitar and vocal roles. The interplay and the harmonizing of their guitar performances on Exegeses is a principal source of the album’s great fascination and power — as you’re about to find out for yourselves through our premiere of a full album stream.
Before reading further, take a good look at the photograph at the top of this post, which stands as the cover of Exegeses. Apart from capturing in striking fashion an instance of nature’s self-destructive (and renewing) force, it’s a well-chosen representation of the fiery and compelling nature of Anicon’s music — which perhaps could best be labeled technical-progressive-atmospheric black metal, because it’s all those things, with the multifaceted stylistic ingredients integrated in ways that few bands have attempted, much less achieved this well.
With only a few well-timed breaks, the album is a pulse-pounding surge of blazing exuberance from start to finish. The instrumental performances are technically eye-popping, usually rushing forward like a flash flood after a deluge. No surprise, Lev Weinstein’s drumming is inventive, dynamic, physically demanding, and superbly executed, while DeMaria’s pulsing, bounding bass work completes the powerhouse performance delivered by the rhythm section. You could easily spend one spin through this album just taking in what the two of them are doing (and you should).
The dual guitar performances of Voss and Rundquist are equally attention-grabbing. They deliver explosive tremolo riffs and leads, sometimes dissonant, sometimes beautifully harmonized; shining, chiming chords that make the heart swell; cascading waves of bleak, panoramic melody; and even a few head-battering chugs. And although the vocals are spare throughout the album, the harsh, abrasive roars are ravaging, and burn with the same intensity as the music.
The songwriting on the album is as impeccable as the instrumental skill displayed by the performers. It’s a remarkably dynamic album for one that so unrelentingly surges with vibrant energy. The songs are intricate, almost kaleidoscopic in their changing moods, motifs, and rhythms. But the head-spinning twists and turns in the songs never unhinge them, sending the component pieces spinning off the rails. Instead, the intricacy and dynamism of the music only increases the magnetic attraction of what Anicon have wrought.
And on top of all these accolades, one more should be given to Colin Marston, who recorded, mixed, and mastered the album. The sound is tremendously powerful, yet with a clarity that allows the listener to fully appreciate all the wonders that this kind of musical fireworks display delivers.
Exegeses really is a remarkable album, one of the true highlights of the first half of 2016, and one that should still be standing tall at the end of the year.
Exegeses was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Colin Marston at Menegroth in November 2015 and features striking photography by Kari Greer. It will be released by Gilead Media on July 8 in a gatefold LP format that comes with a digital download code. A CD edition will be released simultaneously in Europe via Avantgarde Music.