Anubis Gate
Covered In Black


3.0
good

Review

by Kenneth E. Rathburn CONTRIBUTOR (108 Reviews)
September 4th, 2017 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Shrouded in disarray.

After Anubis Gate promoted Henrik Fevre to bass player and lead vocalist (previously backing vocalist), the band managed to produce two of their more competent albums; 2011’s Anubis Gate was tried-and-true while showcasing a sense of rejuvenation, and 2014’s Horizons took the formula a step further by embracing a more atmospheric backbone. Thus, the Danish group presented themselves with a decision: continue building upon the beautiful soundscape they’d created, or diverge from said route and elect for experimentation. If neither the title nor the minimal, accompanying artwork for Covered in Black spills the beans for you, then any one of the ten tracks will. Despite this overarching shift, Covered in Black is far from a focused affair. In fact, it can become downright disjointed at times.

Before we get into what makes Anubis Gate’s seventh studio album such a ragtag slab, we must first consider what the band were trying to accomplish in the first place. Setting aside the usual “darker and more complex” comments we hear about every single upcoming metal album, the band mentioned pre-release that they took inspiration from “classical chamber music, 70’s prog, Eastern influences and all kinds of metal.” These influences are instantly evidenced with track names such as “Psychotopia,” “The New Delhi Assassination” and “Operation Cairo.” Coincidentally, these are among the album’s chief cuts, yet even they can momentarily slump in the apparent interest of style and direction. This is an area Anubis Gate have normally had a solid grip on. Even if the objective quality of their albums was in question, their dedication to fulfilling the thematic elements was usually in check. And while Covered in Black has a nice batch of ideas in hand, it struggles to clench and embrace them in a way that feels worthy, be it to the band or collective subject matter.

The problem Anubis Gate have run into isn’t a question of whether this new direction was the wrong one to take, but rather a question of realization. Covered in Black undoubtedly wants to cast a variety of shadows upon us, with snippets popping throughout the album in an attempt to cast such illusions. These often appear in the form of samples, breaks and bridges, be it in-between or during individual tracks. For instance, the album has been edited in such a way that the tracks seamlessly blend into one another, such as the melodically spoken words which close “Too Much Time” and open “A Journey to Nowhere.” Furthermore, Covered in Black’s eponymous “Black Suite” (“Black,” “Blacker” and “Blackest”) strangely concludes in the same vein before slowly building to the penultimate grower, “Operation Cairo.” One could argue this is meant to make the album feel more connected or interwoven, but the “Black Suite” is such a tonal departure and ends on such an awkwardly abrupt note that this repeated inclusion only feels out of place. Amplifying this sense of troublesome transition is how the album decides to play out from start to finish. While variety is often a desirable trait in music, it needs to be handled in a way that makes sense for the album. So when Covered in Black opens in a way that begins to evoke industrial metal a la Fear Factory, only to follow up with an oriental break akin to Myrath, before sidewinding to a bit of electronic post not unlike Katatonia’s Frank Default tracks, and then end things in a way that sounds more like straightforward Anubis Gate, it does more than leave a slightly sporadic impression. And yet, for all of these influences, few go further than a skin-deep level. The best moments on display are the ones that sound like Anubis Gate in their natural state, yet they often feel compromised or shrugged aside.

Given the very nature of progressive music, the experimental facade on Anubis Gate’s latest isn’t terribly surprising. The results are disappointing, but it’s easy to see and therefore understand what the band were aiming for. One can walk away with the impression that the group wanted to craft a collage of darkness and madness, a picture that wishes to paint many shades in various regions. And while disarray might make sense on paper, it doesn’t necessarily translate to a sound listening experience. As soon as Covered in Black begins to commit to one vision, it only backtracks and stumbles about onto the next. It’s a dynamic that instills plenty of curiosity, but evokes very little confidence.



Recent reviews by this author
Dawn of Solace The DarknessShylmagoghnar Emergence
Trees of Eternity Hour Of The NightingaleLes Discrets Prédateurs
Faye Wong Only Love StrangersVitja Digital Love
user ratings (9)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
September 4th 2017


984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I think this album is foreshadowing the weather I can expect if Irma continues its projected path.

BlackwaterPork
September 4th 2017


981 Comments


Great review, I need to give this band a spin.

Digging: Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
September 4th 2017


984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

If you want an idea of what they were like before Fevre became lead singer, I'd probably listen to A Perfect Forever and/or Andromeda Unchained. The two albums that came before this are more my speed, especially Horizons.

BlackwaterPork
September 4th 2017


981 Comments


I was planning on listening to the whole discography tbh, but I'll take note of that and compare which I like better.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
September 4th 2017


984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Full discography listens are always fun. I keep meaning to jump on Paradise Lost's catalog since I've been listening to Swallow the Sun pretty heavily for the past month.

BlackwaterPork
September 4th 2017


981 Comments


Love both of those bands a lot. I might even listen to Swallow the Sun's discography again now you've brought them up.

teamster
September 4th 2017


1884 Comments


This does not read like a "good" record. More like an average affair. Don't feel compassion. Give it the 2.5 it deserves. Excellent review and thanks.

Digging: Coldrain - FATELESS

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
September 4th 2017


984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I don't necessarily agree with the words that go along with the ratings here. By my standards, 3/5 is average because, to me, an average album is one that's at least somewhat enjoyable. This is simply an album that's easier to pick apart from a critical standpoint, and part of that is because it's a fair album coming off the heels of what I'd consider a strong, borderline excellent predecessor.

pizzamachine
September 5th 2017


13476 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Only heard The Combat. 5/5

Willie
Moderator
September 5th 2017


17266 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

I'm only two songs in, but so far I can't see this 'only' being a 3. Loving it so far.

Digging: Samael - Hegemony

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2017


984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I wanted to like it, but I found the whole thing discombobulated. The first three songs did intrigue me, but from Too Much Time through Blackest I quickly grew apathetic. Still dig Operation Cairo though.

Megaloud
September 6th 2017


1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I disagree with most of your points on this one, to me it's simply an issue of hearing the album a few times to see and feel the way it grows, upon each listen it opens more and more and I hear more things that I appreciate. Yes it's a challenging album on first listen, but so worth listening many more times too, because it pays back in huge dividends each spin.

ChaoticVortex
September 6th 2017


481 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love this band, so I'm very interested which direction they'll take this time.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
September 6th 2017


984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@Megaloud: I actually gave this album a good 6 or 7 listens before coming to my current verdict. Even the least accessible albums I've found my opinions don't change that drastically over time. I think the only one I went from seeing a dramatic shift in opinion was The Jester Race by In Flames (used to hate it, now I can enjoy it, but still think many fans overrate it). I actually initially viewed this album as a 3.5/5, so it lost some appeal as I kept listening. I wouldn't call this a "challenging" album (that I'd reserve for something like The Mantle), but rather an acquired taste.

ChaoticVortex
September 10th 2017


481 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Certianly a very interesting change of pace for Anubis Gate with a heavier yet still melodic and varied sound. They throw a lot of musical ideas over here, and as the review pointed out not all of them manage to stick. I feel the album really finds its confidence in the back half, the "Black" trilogy and the last two songs are major winners.

leycec
September 29th 2017


26 Comments


> The Jester Race by In Flames (used to hate it, now I can enjoy it, but still think many fans overrate it)

wut. This doesn't necessarily invalidate your otherwise well-written review... but it's not necessarily helping establish credibility, either. Was pretty underwhelmed by the tepid electronica-laced by-the-numbers playing-it-safe run-of-the-mill "soccer mom"-isms of their last outting ("Horizons"). The bloated saccharine was strong with that LP. For better or (maybe) worse, Anubis Gate finally left their nauseating comfort zone and delivered the actual progressive goods.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
September 29th 2017


984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I'd rather establish my "credibility" by being honest about what I like and don't like; The Jester Race is a good/great album, don't get me wrong (3.8 rounded to 4 for me), I just don't see it as the masterpiece many In Flames fans hold it up as. Obviously it had a big role in establishing melodic death metal, along with the likes of The Gallery and Slaughter of the Soul--two albums I do consider true masterpieces, I just never felt as engaged by it as others clearly have.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy