Released: 2005, Listenable Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
It must really suck to play in a symphony in Europe—what with shitty “symphonic” Black Metal bands asking you left and right to play on their “groundbreaking” new records, wherein they’ll do exactly what Therion, Tristania, and Cradle Of Filth have been doing since the mid-nineties. Can you imagine being a classically trained symphony orchestra musician, being paid to play alongside some tuneless, pasty-faced and spike-studded mongrels who all think they’re Lord Byron?
This is not to say that Anorexia Nervosa suck—they don’t. It’s not perfect by any means, and there is no way in hell that this is groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination, but perhaps if you hated the new Dimmu Borgir, you might wish to check this out.
The opening track, “The Shining,” grows on you with repeated listens. The vocals have almost a hardcore quality—a refreshing change of pace from the standard BM screech. This is not to say there is no screeching, but rather, it is minimal. The most recent Hecate Enthroned (Redimus) is a decent reference point. Of course, aside from this, any and all of its “symphonic” pretensions could have been accomplished as early as 1996—there is no ground covered here whatsoever that Therion and Cradle Of Filth have not already trod, and trod far more effectively.
To their credit, their songwriting prowess far outweighs most bands of this ilk—the aforementioned Hecate Enthroned and Dimmu Borgir could actually stand to take a few hints in this direction. “Sister September,” a classic (and classy) Euro-metal cut all the way, displays just what the band is capable of. Apparently, they are capable of quite a bit. It is a shame then, that they have chosen such a mediocre path.
As far as other tracks go, “Antiferno” shoots for an old-school feel, and misses, often feeling directionless and vague in its delivery. “Worship Manifesto,” however, shoots and scores—actually a highlight of the disc. It manages to live up, in some ways, to the “symphonic metal” tag more efficiently that other songs presented here. Those classic Euro harmonies are really effective on this track. Somewhat less effective is “Codex-Veritas,” which is perhaps a bit too epic for its own good. This sort of approach is best accomplished by bands such as Borknagar and Alghazanth. Truly, Anorexia Nervosa are at their best when they calm down a bit, and find their own voice—which seems to be somewhere between classic Rotting Christ and Dimmu Borgir before they became dorks. A good example of a good, original AN track is “An Amen,” another aggressive standout cut, which captures the band in its essence. Perhaps pursuing a blend of the sort of textures explored both here and in “Sister September” on the next record would bring the band to greater acclaim as to who they are, as opposed to who they merely sound like.
In the meantime, this is a fine “second tier” release—it might be worth rounding up your couch quarters for; but don’t break your piggy banks just yet. It’s not bad; but no one is carving this band’s name into their desks anytime soon.