Review Summary: Anacrusis' final album before they disappeared from the thrash world. Heavy, thrashy, melodic, catchy, dark and moody.
After four albums and multiple tours, Anacrusis reached the end of their tenure with their final album, Screams and Whispers
. The band sited inner-turmoil brought about by a perceived indifference and confusion from metal fans the world over. It's a shame that bands considered to be ahead of their time often fade away long before they're appreciated, but that's what happened here. Anacrusis was one of the best and most unique technical thrash bands of their time, but almost no one knew it. This lack of exposure didn't stop the band from putting their hearts into every release and this final album proves that beyond a doubt.
On this album the band retained the razor-sharp guitar and bass tone that they developed on Manic Impressions
but the production takes on a warmer tone creating a less mechanical and more “human” feel. They also returned some of the bottom end that some felt was lacking from the last album and also gave the bass drums a thicker sound (although not to the extent that Reason
did). Overall, this is probably the best sounding album of the band's career (although I still prefer the cold, mechanical production of Manic Impressions
Musically this album let up a notch in the technicality department. The riffs and arrangements are still fairly technical and involved but they feel less dense and precise than on Manic Impressions
. One of the reasons that it feels that way is because the choruses on this album seem more thought out and catchy than anything they ever did before. That in no way implies “sell out” or a less heavy album, it just means that they paid more attention to the hook instead of making the choruses just another part of the song.
Another reason these songs seem less technical and precise is that they lost their drummer from Manic Impressions
, Chad Smith, and replaced him with Paul Miles. Paul is a very capable drummer and his input to the album is great, it's just that he has more of a looseness to his playing then the technical playing of Chad Smith. Due to that looseness, the songs on Screams and Whispers
seem to have more of a groove than most the stuff from their past. That doesn’t imply a Nu-Metal influence or anything (it was only 1993, after all), it just means the songs, while still being heavy, thrashy, and technical, just felt like they had more of a groove.
As usual, the vocals of Ken Nardi are all over the spectrum, from low growls to black metal shrieks, as well as everything in between. He had improved to near perfection on the last album and because of that they only sound slightly better here, but that could also be due to the increased emphasis on the choruses as well. His lyrics on this album are still mostly introspective and thoughtful but also seem to be more fleshed out then anything before.
Anacrusis has always been a thrash band first and the progressive tendencies were used within that framework. They never branched out into jazz or funk or anything else that would remove the focus from the heavieness. On this album Ken Nardi started incorporating keyboards into the songs he was writing. Apparently, the rest of the band wasn’t too happy about it but they sucked it up. The keyboards on this album aren’t your typical prog keyboards like Dream Theater
or something. There are no keyboard solos or ragtime fills or anything similar. In fact, the keyboards aren’t even used on every song. When they are used they go for more of a spacey orchestral feel and are mainly used to enhance the mood of the song. They do a good job of doing that and they don't take away from the overall heaviness or quality of the song at all. If your opinion of the keyboards on this album is different and you’ve never heard their older albums than I’d still recommend you check them out.
Overall this is a very solid release and shows that even four albums in that they were still willing to experiment by pushing the limits of thrash. They still have the fast technical riffs, the mid-paced heavier songs, the many different parts of each song, the dark emotional inward-looking lyrics, as well as a better use of choruses and melody. If there is an Anacrusis album I’d recommend for the uninitiated it would be this one or Manic Impressions
(with Screams and Whispers
being slightly more accessible and Manic Impressions
being much colder and technical).