Dark Descent Records
(Released November 2014)
Anguish’s songs seem designed to confuse and disorientate the listener. If you have the patience to get into the required frame of mind, the fleeting, tangential nature of the eight tracks that make up this vertiginous ‘Mountain’ are kind of enthralling; a twisted masterclass of intriguing, unsettling doom metal.
The band hails from Uppsala in Sweden, and ‘Mountain’ is the follow-up to their debut ‘Through The Archdemon’s Head’ – a release that piqued the curiosity of the doom world in 2012. Two years on, Anguish might not have established themselves as a major influence within the genre with their latest album, but they certainly demonstrate a forceful personality.
‘Mountain’ has a schizophrenic split between traditional epic doom and raging restlessness. Singer J. Dee’s style is sometimes akin to that of Tom G Warrior, a mournful rasp of rebellion, and the guitars’ muscular discordant chug has echoes of old Celtic Frost. Agitated and awkward.
And yet Anguish blend all of that with the elegant, epic riffs of Candlemass, showing a slow and mighty mastery of traditional doom metal values – as well as a willingness to reach for the stars. Elsewhere there are elements of Griftegard and Pallbearer, but lacking the direct impact of those bands.
The golden-winged opening riff of the song ‘Master of Peak’s Fall’, for example, is spectacular, although the band seems unwilling or unable to fully exploit its potency, preferring to wander in search of the answer when the answer is staring them in the face. Therefore, despite the band’s vigour and creativity, some of the huge potential of these songs remains untapped by a refusal to focus on what works most simply and effectively.
There are many moments of overwhelming raw power and excitement scattered over this ‘Mountain’, and undoubted quality running throughout the album, particularly on tracks such as ‘The Woven Shield’. Among the cloudy peaks there are also some low, rock-strewn valleys, as ultimately ‘Mountain’ never quite settles into a satisfying rhythm – the relentless tempo changes and riff switches eventually become a little frustrating.
Is this ‘Mountain’ worth climbing? Yes, but remember to take a packed lunch.