Another pleasant reading by Stuart Turnbull reviewing Russian band Anckora's album VIRUS.
So, something wicked this way comes! A dark demonic and invasive species from foreign climes!? .... Ah, no... possibly just a damn fine album from those lovely Russian pervayors of all that is heavy and melodic. Here we have Anckora and their opening salvo that is VIRUS. I'm assuming much at this stage as my Russian is kind of less than zero and I have to admit that the scene there is quite outside my current experience. This bundle of tracks speaks of sonic attack, loud volumes of those epics from days not so long past... Those artists who would rather punch you out than shake your hand.. the rosters of Dynamica and Machinery Records spring to mind. The opening of this album instantly recognisable as residing in the same stables as OOMPH, And One... and of course the goliath that is Coptic Rain. VIRUS is the title track... Man's inhumanity to Man and the planet.
Overpowering and heavy, angry and yet strangely subtle.... melodic and quite choral in places. You sense the purpose in this band, their own existence and joi de vive. A brave effort to mix such musical movements but it works and translates perfectly into our own musical headspace. They are most certainly "on message".
Anckora's work shifts violently from a subtle ambience to heavy riff with little or no effort and in doing so... places the listener in a constant flux, a minor uncomfortable brainstorm... don't drive whilst listening to it.
On The Edge is swimming in melodic tides and captivates, tells a story, leaves it's message clear. Alive... pulls me back. A song of thought provoking comment on artificial intelligence and the race towards it. In The Fire talks of war and all that it entails.. a statement not lost on me as I sit back and let this wash over me with waves of heavyweight electronica reminiscent of Front 242 and Trauma. Soundscapes that caress the mind and soul.... they lead into The Machine..
Here comes the strong, effectual and anthemic ode to a life in the armed forces. Good or bad....one simply cannot ignore the hammering dark and haunting atmosphere of the track. The hidden costs of this life, the consequences for everyone.
This album is born of the deep psyche into which most modern day young people are cast.... a formative time.. the youthful angst, anger and rebellion. Themes that we instantly recognise and continue to fight. Midnight and Steel Bird are two tracks that reflect these themes... life on the streets and the more ordered life of officialdom and even military action. The latter a song constructed around the story of a pilot's non return from action. In this track a sense of anger and frustration... a need for answers, the truth. The composition takes on what I can only describe as Rammstein-esque proportions and delivers the news from the ministry straight between the eyes.
You cannot ignore or escape the dark heavy tones that emanate out from within the album....Herein there sits an uneasy truce between the softer ambience in one part and the raw power of the darkwave guitars that fill out the compositions. I'm in no doubt regards the idealistic vision of Anckora and their darkwave manifesto....even through the thin veil of commercial production. There are still pleasant surprises to be had here... Voice of The Soul is a track that meanders meaningfully through the fields of typical British goth-metal. In here too I'm reminded of Pandemonium era Killing Joke. A hammer blow to the unsuspecting victim.
The final track on the album is entitled After. It succeeds in drawing down the listener to its hazy finish via an overflow of theatrical electronic devise and a warm reminder of the course you've just steered. The song is all about our consumer society and all its evil pitfalls... a song constructed to warn of our greed and eventual demise...an outcome that can be avoided? I guess perhaps not.
After all, money talks.... and you'll want to go out and buy this album... won't you?
by Stuart Turnbull