Review Summary: almost lives up to its self-imposed expectations of grandiosity7 of 7 thought this review was well written
While the above summary of Anastasis
may make it sound underwhelming or subpar, it should not. The soaring melange of post-punk, world music, and darkwave amongst many other influences, tampers with subjects like ancient thought and eternal return (“Anastasis” is a Greek word for resurrection which is timely considering that their eighth full-length is DCD’s first in sixteen years). It’s difficult to imagine recording sessions for Anastasis
between Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard occurring without words like “ethereal” and “surreal” being thrown around a few times to accentuate the dramatic amalgam that is their comeback album. It’s a questionable move to even compare Anastasis
to previous DCD works, being 16 years and numerous solo and side-projects removed; but even when doing so, it compares favorably. Anastasis
is an impressive and disarming release that further underscores the high-reaching capabilities of Dead Can Dance.
The core duo must have felt like they had something to prove after all these years, because “Children of the Sun” does just that. It opens the album with a rendition in a more pop-oriented direction. While dramatic and beautiful, the track doesn’t alienate like the aforementioned concoction of wayward subgenres is able to, but will draw listeners in no matter their usual spectrum of listening. Herein lies one of Anastasis
’s most desirable traits: the cohesion and composition. It’s no mistake that the album weaves in and out of the two distinct styles employed by Gerrard and Perry, culminating in the penultimate track and fan-favorite, “Return of the She-King,” a grand climax that marries the two voices and techniques.
can be described most accurately in these two manners. In one, there’s Brendan Perry with his deep, booming lines. His voice infuses tracks like “Opium” and “Children of the Sun” with a Morrissey-esque, melodramatic drawl reminiscent of British shoegaze or post-punk. He’s complemented wonderfully by lush string sections, French horns, and piano riffs; it’s a concoction that makes it especially hard to nail down a specific genre for the mixture. Either way, Perry-led tracks have a distinct edge of their own, highlighting the more majestic and regal side of Anastasis
. On the other side is Lisa Gerrard, with her more ambiguous approach which belies a style that employs Eastern music through a Western lens. While not as satisfying in my eyes, the important part of her contributing tracks like “Agape” is that they’re very much in keeping with the smooth and unencumbered feel of Anastasis
. A few tracks are overlong and tiresome, but this is to be expected considering the sheer scope of the hour-long album and the territory it intended to cover. Cohesion is a point of strength for the two-faced album, not a weakness.
Whichever spectrum it shines through though, Anastasis
is a momentous addition to an already-illustrious discography. Everything from the pristine, spellbinding production that aids its hugeness to the melodramatic, meaningful vocals of Perry and Gerrard to aspects like the track placement prove that Dead Can Dance haven’t lost a step of rhythm. Considering the impossibly lofty expectations that an hour-long melange of regal proportions and a fantasy-esque magnitude, Anastasis
is an incredibly impressive album that almost lives up to Dead Can Dance’s self-imposed expectations of grandiosity.