Label: Metal Blade
Released: 1993

Anacrusis - Screams and Whispers 01I get sad when bands don’t get their just due. I get sadder when I find out about that band after they had disbanded. One fateful night in 1993, I was watching MTV’s Headbangers Ball and caught a video of “Sound the Alarm” by St. Louis, Missouri’s progressive thrashers, Anacrusis. From what I’ve read online, “Sound the Alarm” was played once and only once on that show, and it was after the band had called it quits earlier that year. I was fortunate enough to be floored by that song. So much so that I bought their last album, Screams and Whispers, with my birthday money just a scant few weeks later, and it would introduce me to the world of underground metal music like no other band could do before.

But first, “Sound the Alarm”. Go watch the video, or more importantly, listen to the damn song. Flanged and delayed arpeggios give way to a satisfying crunch.  John Emery’s VoiVodian bass tone, Paul Miles’ tricky drumming, and Kenn Nardi’s anguished vocals that would go from throaty bellowing to anguished singing to near-black-metal screeching… folks, this was what I was looking for at the age of 17. Something angry. Something unique. Something sincere. And Screams and Whispers had it in droves.

And talk about an expansive musical palette! You have glimpses of atonality (“Division”), Pantera-esque swagger (the chorus of “Grateful”), sweeping beautiful melodies instilling a false sense of security (“Driven”, “Brotherhood?”), thoughtful lyrics (all of them!), and there’s never a dull moment to be found. Nardi and co-guitarist Kevin Heidbreder were masters of their instruments.  While Nardi’s leads tend to be harsh and angular, Kevin’s were more fluid, almost to the point of being watery (his lead on “Driven” is a key example). One thing I remember about the album’s release was that Kenn would be panned hard on the left channel, and Kevin would be panned on the right, so those with headphones or good stereo systems could pick up who was playing what lead. As a teenager, I thought this was a very cool idea… unless you blow a speaker or broke a headphone cable.

Anacrusis - Screams and Whispers 02The most amazing thing about Screams and Whispers, though, is how fresh and current it still sounds a whole 21 years later. I’ve played this album for friends over the years, and many have said that “Metallica wished they sounded this good”! This was an album written by artists who wanted to leave a stamp on the metal scene, and this was one hell of a way to leave the stage, and it’s still the litmus test that I hold other bands up to in terms of quality and the ability to age gracefully.

Anacrusis would reunite in 2009 to play a handful of festivals and re-record some older material, titled Hindsight:  Suffering Hour & Reason Revisited, before an indefinite hiatus in 2013. Screams and Whispers is a difficult album to track down in terms of a physical copy (I owned three at one point), though Nardi has made it very easy by making it (and all their prior records) available via download on their official website for free, as a means of keeping their legacy alive. And as someone who was exposed to various new genres via Screams and Whispers, I would gladly show anyone who is interested in this timeless gateway, my gateway, to check out this absolute classic of an album.

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  • Carniverous Ruminant

    Wow. I’ve never heard of these guys, but from what I’ve heard so far, it’s pretty goddamn awesome. Thanks for the heads up!

    • Grymm

      My job here today is done. :)

    • I wouldn’t be too surprised, actually. The band’s from St. Louis, Missouri, and Missouri ain’t known for metal. (Although there’s The Browning from Kansas City!)

  • Richard

    HOW HAVE I NEVER LISTENED TO THIS BEFORE??? Epic.

  • Excentric_1307

    The mastering on this album is incredible. At first I was like, those drums! Then I was like, Those guitars! Then I realized it was just everything. It somehow avoids sounding area-rock ish too. This is great stuff, thanks for sharing!

  • Solbrave

    one of the best thrash albums of all time.

  • RU63

    Thanks for the tip (link to site to download this album). I’m really enjoying it.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Great stuff. Old school thrash doesn’t get much better than this. Unless you count old school tech thrash like By Inheritance-era Artillery, Heathen, Toxik or Coroner (et al) but that’s somewhat of an unfair comparison. But then again, by 1993 even those weren’t doing anything quite like this anymore.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    Nardi is currently working on new stuff. Can’t wait for the release.
    Manic Impressions is a great recording, also.

  • Thanks for the very nice review. Actually MTV did only air the STA video once that I know of (in the States, at least) but it was while we were still in full-swing. We didn’t break up until right near the end of 1993 immediately following a US tour with MERCYFUL FATE and a month in Europe with DEATH. – Kenn

    • Grymm

      Thank you for the correction, as well as the nice words, and especially your music, Kenn. Manic Impressions and S&W are phenomenal records!

      Again, thank you! m/

    • Hey Kenn! You should put up the Anacrusis stuff up 4 cheep on BandCamp. I’d buy it in higher quality files. I’d never heard it, but it’s great!

      • Grymm

        I would buy the shit out of that. Again.

  • I went mad for this disc when I was 16. TESTIKLEES HAS SPOKEN!!

  • shmoo69

    How did I miss this? Cheers for the heads up.

  • Alan Smithee

    So happy this is getting some love. Everything about this album: the music, the production, the technicality… “Manic Impressions” and “Reason” are also fine albums.

  • MisanthropistRyan

    I’m listening to this album as I type and I’m blown away by it. It’s shocking that these guys weren’t given the recognition they deserved. A label should reissue these albums because people need to hear this stuff. You always think of the 90s as being a weak time for metal but great stuff like this was being released and fucking ignored. Ridiculous.

  • theoutlawscumbag

    yeah…saw them open for megadeth in memphis while touring “rust in peace”. initially very upset because the opener was to be a new band named alice in chains, but very happy to have found a new band that night. instantly begged a ride to the record shop to buy manic impressions the next day. any deafness i now suffer i link directly back to the screeching of “i’ll paint a picture…” during their set that night. great stuff and a great band.

  • Keith DeSantis

    I must have been one of the few that picked this up when it came out. At that time in 93 I was 20 and a rabid collector of metal. I had never heard of this band so it was one of those chance purchases that anyone pre internet can tell you was 50/50. I got burned a lot back in those days but with no radio or mtv play either your friends turned you onto a band or you stumbled on it in a store by checking out the artwork or curiosity I guess. This was an instant connection. Like others have stated the cd is fucking mindblowing. And it is true genius songwriting because if this album dropped today instead of 20 years ago people would still be like holy fuck that’s amazing. Truly ahead of their time and one of my fondest memories and chance purchases. My ONLY regret was not seeing them live. I had the chance to see them at the Agora theater in Cleveland Ohio. They had the banners up at one of the shows I seen there but as I had no car back then and had to rely on other metalheads wanting to go it was always the bigger acts unfortunately. A true shame. But to this day this cd is treasured and revered in my collection.

  • Angel R. Suarez

    Since reading this review, I’ve listened to this album a dozen times.

    Just amazing. Over 20 years old and it makes most thrash I’ve heard sound like a bunch of teenagers circle jerking.