Review Summary: An absolute beath of fresh air for any fan of pretty much anything; Ranging from sounds reminiscent of Opeth, Cynic, Between the Buried and Me, Steely Dan, Dave Matthews Band, David Bowie, Ulver, and even Keep of Kalessin. An absolute must for anyone look
Lately if you're like me in any sort of way; You've been somewhat bored with the music the industry has been *Shatting* out in the recent year and a half. And even though my general tastes usually fall within Extreme Death or Black Metal (Behemoth, Nile, Viraemia, Opeth, Dimmu Borgir, In Flames, Meshuggah, etc...) I do have a more expansive taste. Though as I said; The recent releases have been making me yawn at best.
And in my searches, lo and behold what do I come across but a somewhat unknown band by the name of Ansur.... Let me start by saying I have been nothing less than thoroughly impressed with this bands latest release "Warring Factions". These guys are a REAL gem.
Hailing from Norway (Both Unsuprising and yet, Very suprising), these guys started as an initial 3-piece, They quickly got noticed for their first major release "Axiom", being more in the vein of their bretheren Black Metallists. Are now a complete band, composed of:
Espen Aulie - Bass and Vocals
Torstein Nipe - Guitars
Glenn Furguson - Drums
Nicolay Svennaes - Keys and Organs
Of course, being from Norway, they almost purposefully set out to prove that they not only wouldnt, but simply couldnt be grouped in with the Stereotypical Norwegian dictom of being a standard Black Metal band; In fact, you really cant even call them Black Metal at all; Albeit somewhat obvious that they are from Norway, from the first 30 seconds off the first track, you can tell that they are indeed different....in a BIG way.
Beginning with the very first track: "The Tunguska Incident", you know that something is completely unique with this group; Fading in with a quiet and beautifully executed disharmonic acoustic intro, and immediately speeding up into an almost Daughters-style chaotic chord riffing, and then panning out into the first verse with heavily distorted guitars and Espen's instantly recognizable Keep of Kalessin style thrash vocals. Then, almost as quickly as it got started, it transitions into a Jazz-Jam-Band style venture, starting with a David Bowie influenced distortion solo, then flowing blissfully into a Jam-Band Saxophone and Horn solo/leads being conspicuously reminiscent of Ulver. 2 minutes later it almost instantly changes into this almost Opeth/The Doors inspired keyboard and guitar venture; becoming a veritable 60's band for another minute and a half, before fading into an almost Molly Hatchet/Opeth riff-bridge, leading back into the next verse....and yet another gorgeous solo vaguely sounding of a cross between Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd, making up what is the outtro.
Of course, that's not to say that they cant tread into other genres of Rock and Metal and also kick total ass; With following tracks such as "Sierra Day", "Phobos Anomaly", and "An Exercise in The Depth of Field", they prove once again that their talents have only yet to be established. Incorporating rather Technical Metal guitar riffing types in the memories of, if not directly influenced by bands such as Between the Buried and Me, Cynic, and so on. Especially on treats such as "An Exercise in The Depth of Field", where they do exactly as the name suggests; Exercising their talents in the depths of the field of music. Utilizing rather technical selective riffs in the intro licks, showing that they too can "Wank" on a guitar, but not to the point to where its contrived and overtly indulgent. Which I can respect (being a Bassist, I crave structure). On top of that, the outtro to "An Exercise..." has that timeless sound that gives someone that "Nostalgic" feeling of old times, which really spoke to me on an overrall talent scale, showing true musicianship.
....As I stated before, these guys are a TRUE gem. One of which should be kept track of for future releases. Especially considering how much of an immense change "Warring Factions" brought the band from their Debut release "Axiom". Their future works should be at the very least epic in sound and composure.
I must confess, although I stated that I have a wide range of tastes and an expansive outlook on music; Espen Aulie's vocals WERE somewhat difficult for me to get accustomed to, but honestly, relating his vocals to Keep of Kalessin in terms of his heavier stylings made it easier to digest; and now that I have given Ansur a dignified chance; I simply cannot stop listening to it....I believe that this band is shamefully underappreciated and fans of any band I have previously mentioned in this review should also give them a dignified chance. These guys are truely talented and will surely make a name for themselves in the coming future....If not with this actual album.
I give them a 5/5 simply because any disagreement I had with Espen's vocal-stylings were immediately silenced by their immesureable musicianship, writing abilities, and song composition. And I've even grown to like his vocals in the recent couple of weeks.....So, yes....An EASY 5/5.
Songs to look for on "Warring Factions" that are immediately noteable:
# 1. "The Tunguska Incident"
# 2. "Seirra Day"
# 3. "Phobos Anomaly"
# 4. "An Exercise in The Depth of Field"
# 5. "At His Wits End"
# 6. "Cloudscraper"
# 7. "Prime Warring Eschatologist"
.....Yeah....I'm not joking; Every song on this album is worthy of at least 1 listen. They truely are a breath of fresh air from every type of Sub-Genre labeled Stereotype "Popularity" group around right now. They sound like everything and nothing at the same time.
A true perspective-expanding experience in the world of music.
Treat yourselves to the Opus that is "Warring Factions"