Released: 2011, Nightmare Records
Although this is my first experience with Denmark’s Anubis Gate, they are something of a known quantity to fans of quality progressive metal, with each of their four previous albums being held in the highest esteem, especially 2009’s THE DETACHED. As it happens, this new album is somewhat controversial for the Danes, as not only does it follow their best loved album, but it also marks the departure of former singer Jacob Hansen, with bassist Henrik Fevre taking over the vocalist duties. That’s a significant change for any band to overcome, let alone one that seems to have such high expectations on each release.
Fortunately for me, having never heard Anubis Gate’s music before, I had no expectations coming in to my first listen of the album. To be honest, my first few runs through the album were incredibly underwhelming as none of the songs really grabbed me. Further listening revealed that ANUBIS GATE is an incredibly subtle album, favouring rhythmic complexity instead of overt displays of musical technicality. There are certainly the requisite time changes and flowing song structures, but Anubis Gate are clearly more interested in writing good songs than showing off their considerable musical abilities.
Indeed, the band are not afraid of writing some incredibly catchy choruses to augment the progressive elements, as songs like “The Re-Formation Show” feature infectious melodies and vocal lines that help draw you into the somewhat melancholy world the band has created. Speaking of vocals, while I have never heard his predecessor, I can confirm that Henrik Fevre’s more than holds his own at the mic with a silky smooth, yet powerful delivery. As for those who crave epics, look no further than the sprawling, but not unwieldy “World in a Dome” and “Circumstanced” to satisfy you. There are times where the band’s affection for melody gets ridiculous and borderline irritating (“Golden Days”), but fortunately those moments are few.
While this album marks a time of change for Anubis Gate, it is still the product of a band that is clearly in control of all of their musical faculties. Fans can pick this disc up with complete confidence, while progressive metal fans who, like me, haven’t come across the band before should definitely take the time to out one of Denmark’s finest musical exports.