Anachronism – Meanders Review

The albums that shape us aren’t always perfect. On his recent Faithxtractor review The Dawg gushed about popping his death metal cherry over and over again—the rush of our early loves never quite repeats itself. Burned into the scarred halls of my hippocampus rests the jam-laden slinky riffs, percussive bass runs, and vocoder weirdness of Cynicߵs classic Focus, an album that persisted in my musically formative years for its elegance as well as its imperfections. An anachronism in its appearance in the early death metal scene, Focus lives in the minds still of modern bludgeoning acts. Similarly, Anachronism in a curiously suspended blend of progressive, technical, and brutal meanderings, conjure death metal that both simultaneously fulfills the engaging nature of contemporary dissonant leanings but also articulates a soundscape informed by the distant and recent past. Meanders does anything but.

The word ‘meanders’ itself describes more than just the state of lesser dissonance heavy or atmospheric acts who clash songs out of existence with contrapuntal Tetris. Rather, Anachronism with their latest leans on the artistic concept of the meanders as they might appear in a mosaic, ornamental patterns of winding or interlocking lines. To understand just follow the opening weeping gleam of “Prism” to its chugged-out conclusion or the brooding, Ulcerate-like clamor that leads “Mirage” to dissipate in a hazy shimmer of filtered twang. Anachronismߵs previous outing Orogeny hinted at this potential for these Swiss disruptors to poke holes in a slammed-out groove with bright chords and sharp lead work. Meanders takes that successful idea and allows it to flow through free expression.

At the crux of death metal in the technical and progressive realm, hooks can be fleeting or often appear missing—not on Meanders though. A wide resonant chord opens “Contrasts” setting the stage for the erosion into Gorguts reminiscent tumbling riffs before ending on a cloud-strewn meditation fit for an Intronaut album. Jangly chugs clamor through poundings numbers that shatter under Lisa Voisard’s high-register shrieks (“Meanders”) and adventurous fusion-powered solos (“Prism”). “Macrocosm” stands unique amongst the pack with its floating, space-bound atmosphere recalling similarly compressed and alien leads that crumble to Voisard’s colliding bellows that bring us back down the eroding soil. Right to the very end Anachronism crafts moments that linger and beg repetition, which comes easy to its absolutely packed 33-minute runtime.

Despite the many offshoots from the typical rumble of deathly musings, Anachronism always finds a way back to a slam and jam. The atypically bright “Prism,” which casts a color, not unlike the celebrated Artificial Brain, dances around major chords and soaring leads before succumbing to the deluge of double-kick madness. And while many a blast and crash define the rhythmic underpinning of Meanders, the stop-start assault that signals the closing “Dialogues” casts a particularly strong-armed shadow over the hefty, tricky riffs and soul-piercing wails that follow. Guest bassist Alex Sedin1 provides a particularly clacky and aggressive tone that imbues powerful string pops (“Insula”) and dazzling free-form grooves (“Mirage”)—both uncommon and welcome in this grimy world. But like a modern-day Atheist his low-end thump follows unpredictable patterns back down to the trenches.

Anachronism has put out an album that feels both like a logical successor to their tapestry of death metal moods and an unexpected turn down a new and exciting journey. After being smitten by their prior work, I never imagined being in a position to say that I’d be truly enamored by Meanders. This work isn’t perfect—some of the textures that Anachronism explores could be better serviced by a warmer, more spacious master. And it might be too short though the concluding howls send shivers down my spine every time. I wouldn’t ask Anachronism to try again with Meanders. I’ve immersed myself in its winding waters for listen upon listen upon listen, and I accept it for the memories it has given me and welcome the future that it carves for this emergent act. There’s no time like the present to let Anachronism invade your listening pleasures.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unorthodox Emanations
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: January 27th, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. Responsible here too for the mix and master, as well as those on last year’s White Ward release, among others.
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