Review Summary: An overproduced and confused space venture that never really gets off the ground.
Opener "Cosmonaut" posits the question "How have I grown from the people I've known?" and the answer is that Being, as a group, have grown very little since they first flashed their sound on Bandcamp with 2011's Arrival
. With over 2 years to perfect tracks like "Cosmonaut" and the Falconer-esque "Story For A Muse," little has been done to perfect the tracks outside of heaping production layers and effects on top of these already overproduced tracks.
Sure, a little studio magic helps them come through cleaner and crisper and moments like the electronic outro to "DNA" are fun, but multiplying the layering on Casprin Haruna's already robotic vocals transforms them into less of a cosmic godspeak and more of a droning dystopian government PSA. Melodic keyboards have an initial kick to them, but the focus on the production centers too heavily around the so-so rhythms the band lay into each track and renders those melodies ineffectual. This is most obvious on "Story For A Muse," where the keyboards kick in with a tangible crispness that amplifies its power metal feel, only to be drowned out by rhtyhm guitars and Haruna's flat vocals.
A lack of direction that appeared in a reduced capacity on Arrival
returns to become a bigger issue on Anthropocene
, as Being try to reconcile 6 songs of old material with 6 songs of new. This results in odd transitions from the obviously linked spacy prog metal combo of "Cosmonaut" and "DNA" to the aggressive "Mindflay," which features guest growls not seen anywhere else on the album. As out of place as the fury in "Mindflay" is amid what has so far been a peaceful cosmic journey, it's followed up by "Story For A Muse," which crash lands the entire vessel into Middle Earth only to have it take back off on album standout "A Part, Apart," which picks up right where "DNA" leaves off. Being always seem like a band who aren't sure if they want to be heavy or pensive, and when they try to do both at the same time, it comes off as awkward and, occasionally, insincere (see the hip-hop breakdowns in "Escape" and the off-putting vocal round in "The Singularity - Cosmists II" for the album's chiefest offenders).
The issue is further compounded by guest spots featured on three quarters of the album. Unfortunately, no number of guest appearances can help a band shooting for this level of complexity discover their real sound and, if anything, they hinder it by throwing around sounds that veer from the band and album's attempt to establish a musical course. But Being try anyway by roping in everyone from Periphery's Misha Mansoor and Spencer Sotelo to composer Kento Watanabe. In the end, these spots only add to the confusion caused by a vocoder-imposed monotone and too much focus on an uninteresting rhythm section by adding in gaudy flair. Surprising? Not in the least.
As a result, Anthropocene
feels more like an odd metal mix-tape than its predecessor. Though cuts like "Cosmonaut," "DNA," and "A Part, Apart" show off a signature sound that could be perfected into something interesting, Anthropocene
, for all of its production, guests, instruments, and time, never gets that job done. Will Being's next album be the one to take care of business? We'll just have to wait and see. But for an album that took two years to spruce and produce, I can't say there's too much reason to hold your breath any longer.