Skagos
Anarchic

The whole of Anarchic finds Skagos focusing upon their atmospherics and expanding further on the sounds found on the Split with Panopticon (whose tracks form one half of his brilliant On The Subject Of Mortality). This is a complicated record that is “lyrically complex, focusing on the death of the Earth and the renewal inherent in cyclical time.” If the preceding quote doesn’t give you some insight into what is in store for this 2 track, seven movement, hour plus album, you must be unfamiliar with the band and genre on display here.

Suite “I – IV” begins with a sustained note that begins to feedback; ultimately building to what you think will be the onset of raging distortion, but fails to deliver. It feels a little forced and a missed opportunity. A poor transition to a pulsing electronic line that begins instead, and repeats under hushed singing until at 6:10, the rage starts. This has all the Black Metal trappings at its core, but feels different. It’s not dark, nor evil. At 17:00, almost all of the aggression stops and for the next 8 minutes or so, the music wouldn’t be out of place on Thursday’s Full Collapse. At the 25:30 mark and continuing for the next 10 minutes through the end of the first suite begins a subtle drone which serves as the only music, and a strange, howled singing (think Efrim Menuck’s voice on any of the later A Silver Mt. Zion albums). As foreign as something like this is on any Black Metal record, it might be my favorite part of the 65 minute voyage.

Suite “V – VII” blooms slowly into existence over its first 10 minutes or so until the gentler, kinder Black Metal this record seems to manifest first rears its not-so-ugly head about 10:30 into the track. Nearing 14:00, a shift in chord progression comes and begins the single dark feeling moment on the record. This quickly plays into the only doomy riff, which chugs along until an abrupt shift at the 17:00 mark ends all semblance of metal that Anarchic had to offer. Some shrieking still surfaces, but for all its intensity, it manages to fit with the big beautiful crescendos Skagos is able to dream up for the next 13 minutes. Some soaring singing comes in as the album nears its end and it becomes, for all intents and purposes, a Post-Rock record. With crashing symbols and layer after layer of reverb soaked, octaved, single note picking you might think you’re again listening to A Silver Mt. Zion or The Evpatoria Report. Anarchic slowly strums and drones its way to its end and you’re left unsure of what you just heard. Was that really the record you pre-ordered because the last one was such a masterpiece?

I have to admit I was disappointed at first with this album. It just seemed too directionless. Too much wandering, too little payoff. I made the mistake of going into it with expectations. I didn’t listen to the preview tracks from their BandCamp that were up for months, I wanted to hear the whole. That shit is hard to resist in the internet age! But I didn’t feel rewarded for my efforts. I’ve had the album now for 2 months and only decided to formulate a real opinion when I was asked to review it. I revisited it multiple times. I varied my mood, location, time of day; everything that I could think of to try to connect with it in a more meaningful way like I did with their first album, Ast. Then one day I threw it on while walking my twin boys through the neighborhood on a sunny afternoon, and it hit me. Honestly, I don’t think this is a Black Metal record, and I don’t think Skagos thinks it is either. This is their statement that they are making the music that speaks to them.

Anarchic is transformative. It is likely going to be an album that detractors of the Cascadian (when can I stop using this?) movement herald as one of the reasons they “hate modern Black Metal.” This is a meandering stroll through Post-Rock, Folk, Drone, and about 15 minutes of uplifting Black Metal. Not uplifting like some sort of bullshit “Christian Black Metal” or “White Metal” (I shudder), but is evocative of some sunny, woodsy journey during the summer. It’s not cold, it’s not kvlt, but it’s beautiful, and that’s something I didn’t expect to be saying after my initial reaction to it. But that is the beauty of the sleeper album. It takes those repeat listens to “get” it, and then becomes a gem in your collection. Anarchic is my surprising sleeper of 2013 I think.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nick E
July 19th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    huh, a Thursday namecheck…


  2. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    you’re 100% right: that sounds like the intro and outro of Full Collapse.


  3. Commented by: vugelnox

    I agree with this review. I dig the album but man it is NOT immediate by any stretch. Two lengthy tracks that both take their sweet time in building the tension and release.


  4. Commented by: jerry

    Taxidermy-so let me get this straight…Thursday is somehow cool, but legitimately good bands that may have Christian lyrics like Extol are lame?
    Fuck.


  5. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    Thursday were mercilessly sad and crushing, and there for me when god wasn’t. Jesuscore bands are a bunch of goofs.


  6. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    so yeah. Thursday are awesome.


  7. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    in other news, Skagos: Awesome. Canadian.


  8. Commented by: CannibalDave

    Skagos is a place in George RR Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” books.


  9. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    yeah, the island of Cannibals that Sam and Gilly sail past.


  10. Commented by: Zam

    I liked the first track when it was just the first 23-minute bit. The folk singing sounds out-of-place, but the black metal/post-rock sounds fantastic. My problem is that the black metal on the second track sounds completely different, production-wise, from the harsher sections on the former track. It sounds rawer, sloppier, and less impacting (but then immediately after that the perfect production on the clean guitars comes back, endlessly confusing me).


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