Reviewed: [August 2021]
Released [2021 Self Released]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
British death metallers Anakim step up their game considerably with the second album, and first in four years. With volatile new singer Matt Small in tow, and a more evolved, technically adept and professional approach, the band build on the raw-boned brutality of their 2017 debut Monuments to Departed Worlds and take things to a whole other level with The Elysian Void.
There is certainly no lack of aggression here as a result, especially with the iron-lunged Small leading the charge, often accented by the guttural/shrieking “harmonies” of bassist Antony Ridout. And because Void offers far better production values and a more thoughtfully presentation, it sounds heavier than the crude and crusty debut, despite the more progressive/technical flourishes.
The abundant heaving grooves and surging riffs of Joe Ryan and Carl Hunting, played over the athletic, shape-shifting tempos Ewan Ross, hit with much more authority here. The nifty finger-walky accents that pop up throughout are able to resonate above the din, adding the texture and depth that ended up largely getting lost in the murky sound of the debut. And where ex-vocalist Geoff Bradley had a vomitous, brutal death metal delivery, Small’s vocals are shoutier and more forceful, and make a better fit for the band’s cleaner, sleeker approach.
Anakim have a pretty good sense of where to toe the line here between full-on death metal brutality and technical wankery, not unlike Morbid Angel at their prime, and for the most part mix and mingle things with aplomb. Ridout – whose spectacular skullet dreads give Suffocation’s Terrance Hobbs a run for his money, and are matched by an epic pony-tail beard – provides the anchor, alternating between a meaty, low-end rumble and lithe, jazzy forays. He even delivers some genuine bass “leads – one of which you can check out on the video for “Infinite Realities” below – something you don’t hear every day.
As with the first album, though, the songs have a tendency to feel long – and, indeed, they are in most cases. Here, tunes average six-plus minutes and nearly all of them could have perhaps shaved a minute or so off to tighten things and make them more impactful, especially something like the dramatic, and rather catchy, “The Auguries of Virgin Soil” that ends up dragging on for nearly seven minutes.
But Anakim are an ambitious and obviously talented lot who have made great strides with The Elysian Void. The material is more sophisticated, the performances more finely honed and the album just sounds some much better than the debut. And if they show this sort of exponential growth with the next one, then the third time really will be the charm.