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Spirit Descent : Anthem (Reissue)

With this sprawling, dense, epic recounting of the legend of Gilgamesh, Spirit Descent have created a monumental doom record.

Wow… Just… Wow… Where do I start? Spirit Descent's 'Anthem' was originally released independently, limited to only 50 copies, and finally has been resurrected with an official digital release through Loneravn Records… And we thank them. Oh, do we ever thank them! The original album clocks in around 50 minutes and together with all the bonuses we have around 2 hours of music. Needless to say there is A LOT of music to digest.So let's get started, shall we!

First off, let me start by saying that this album demands your attention. You can't just put it on in the background and expect it to jump out at you. There are no tasty grooves or riffs that grab your neck and force you to headbang but rather heavy HEAVY rhythms that churn behind an expansive array of melodies. Needless to say the music is very dense with melodies unfolding onto themselves multiple times. This is really where Spirit Descent succeed. Melody upon melody is layered until a complex arrangement of skillfully placed guitars create a monumental wall of music. Not to say that's the only trick Spirit Descent have up their sleeve, but having such a climax within multiple songs certainly helps. The rhythm tracks are a bit simpler but add an aggressive heavy punch and drive the music forward . They even stretch out beyond the simple power chord pounding many bands stick to by adding some extra 5ths and minor intervals behind the ever unfolding melodies. The bass mostly sticks to adding that bottom end but manages to find some space during the cleaner sections to add some walking bass lines and fills. The drummer gets bonus points for some very jazz influenced fills during 'The Dream' though, like the bass, generally sticks to powering the guitars. He does find some time to play some very cool fills using the high section of his kit too which is always refreshing.

Vocally, Jan Eichelbaum is a tad different than the norm. Clearly he has some range, hitting falsettos on a few separate occasions, but it's his delivery that is a little strange. He holds himself back and almost has a soft delivery but will add some power during the line to really hook you back in. It is very dynamic in delivery and does hold your attention throughout the entire thing - I just get the feeling that I'd really like him to unleash a bit more, but, honestly, its a minor complaint.

Lyrically and musically this is a concept album through and through. The thing that really separates 'Anthem' from many others of its kind is the synergy between the music and lyrics. Bands can have a theme for an album, with connecting lyrics, but Spirit Descent actually have created a musically connecting piece as well, with sections of the opener showing up later during the ending of 'In Search of Infinity' with even more power and strength than before. Every musical piece flows into the next with elegance. That really would be the perfect description: elegant power. It is impossible to describe a highlight. Completely impossible. 'Anthem' ebbs and flows with conviction, demanding you to take the entire album in at once. Piece by piece the music builds on itself until a monumentally huge idol is staring at you with grace and poise. Then it's over. Droning ambience washes over the listener and disappears.

There is a ton of bonus material delivered as well. 'Stranger on Earth' is a bit more direct than the album that preceded it, but fails to have the impact as well. It's a nice addition though! 'World Without Redemption' starts out the Demo from 2014 and immediately makes its presence known. For a demo the sound is massive and aggressive. In fact the entire 2014 addition is much more aggressive, even the vocals push more in their delivery but lack the subtleties that Jan had on 'Anthem'. Ultimately, I feel the additions really kind of highlight just how awesome 'Anthem' really was. Despite being released the same year they just don't have the same focus and melodic unfolding that really put the music over the top. I mean, if I had listened to it first I'd probably feel differently since there is nothing really wrong here, it just feels like a step back. While the additions are nice, they really don't add to the overall experience and if you're doing a marathon listen, 2 hours of crushing power may be a bit much for most people.

Overall though, despite the additions not really adding anything and merely being fan service, 'Anthem' stands as big and powerful as the name implies. Andreas Libera must be a extremely talented person writing the entirety of the music (not the lyrics though, that goes to Eichelbaum) and producing the album. Every part has purpose and with an album as huge as 'Anthem', that's a massive achievement. For fans of heavy, Epic Doom metal, this is a must.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. A Solitary King
2. The Dream
3. Till Death Do Us Part
4. In Search Of Infinity
5. The Plant Of Life
6. Closing Circles
7. Stranger On Earth (Bonus Track)
8. World Without Redemption (Demo 2014)
9. Degenerations Of Generations (Demo 2014)
10. Corporatocrazy (Demo 2014)
11. Live At Doom Shall Rise Part 1
12. Live At Doom Shall Rise Part 2
13. Live At Doom Shall Rise Part 3

Duration : Approx. 125 minutes

Visit the Spirit Descent bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-11-01 by Eli Elliott
Vanha - Black Lion
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