Thursday, January 3, 2013

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa - Redemption Process
Listenable Records, 2004
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal

1. The Shining
2. Antiinferno
3. Sister September
4. Worship Manifesto
5. Codex-Veritas
6. An Amen
7. The Sacrament
8. Les Tzars (Indochine Cover)

Anorexia Nervosa has returned to the scene with a very impressive follow up to “New Obscurantis Order.”  I’m not entirely sure how they managed to do it, but they have brought forth a more impressive composition this time around than their incredible previous works.  Although there have been some slight changes to Anorexia Nervosa’s sound design and compositional elements.  However, they are highly well performed on this release, but they are, honestly, slightly simpler in design and concept.  While I was truly enthralled in their complexity of the previous works and chaos, I now find myself appreciating this slightly more straightforward Anorexia Nervosa.  This album only proves further, to me, that despite a decent length of a career they have managed to refine and redesign their sound.  It’s just as beautiful as it has always been and in some ways even more divine in its representation.

The first thing I noticed about them is that they greatly changed their image.  They look far more professional nowadays and less like an image act.  Rather than being pictured in gaudy dress with lots of leather they are now pictured in suits, which I think complements their more refined sound this time around.  The second aspect that changed on this album is the lyrics behind the album.  Basically they shifted from having predominantly sexual based lyrics to more religiously based lyrics.  I will get more in depth with that aspect in a later paragraph because they have progressed a lot in this area.  Thirdly I noticed the lack of a predominant chaos which has overridden their previous works.  For some listeners this may be a damning aspect to wanting to purchase this album, however, I say, don’t let this hold you back in the least.  The power, the grace, the intensity all still remains integral to their musical performance and I feel it is as impressive as ever.  An album of this particular design may have waned under the chaotic structuring of their previous works, but this album brings forth focused listening to the listener.  Something that I think was very intentional behind Anorexia Nervosa’s grand design for this album.

The vocal arrangements, while not as complex as “New Obscurantis Order,” are no less astounding.  Hreidmarr has taken his vocal abilities to the proper next level and exhibits range like never before in the Anorexia Nervosa world.  His words are nearly perfectly audible and his harsh wails where he does octave shifts mid-riff are simply beautiful.  He has progressed greatly as a vocalist to perform such transitional shifts and his arrangements are no less than perfection.  We all saw how exceptional he was at this particular area with “New Obscurantis Order” when he comprised a simply flawless vocal performance for a highly varied album.  Take note here as you listen to the song “An Amen” the flawless vocal tone between the pause transitions in the music when he sings the lines “Just between the ant-hill and the opium den.”  While Hreidmarr may run his voice through a chorus processor to get this tone, it’s clear that it’s very close to the recorded aspect and this is essentially vocal perfection in my world.  While I can personally hit ranges far more complex than this, I am constantly impressed with Hreidmarr’s work because few Black Metal bands meet my vision for vocal arrangements.  Most bands stick with a monotone performance, Anorexia Nervosa graces their listeners with all points of their skill on every level, throughout this album and throughout their discography.

A very interesting point to this album is the production shift from their previous works.  I know that Xort and Bayle have predominantly engineered all the Anorexia Nervosa albums, but I am very impressed, yet again, by the production elements behind this release.  On the previous works, “Drudenhaus” and “New Obscurantis Order” specifically, the production actually lends to the chaotic nature of the music.  However, this time around Xort and Bayle had to change their approach and really clean up their recording quality as musicians and engineers.  The production on here is far cleaner than the previous works and this has more of an emphasis on the guitars, which, as a guitarist, I like very much.  I always thought their sound was a little too heavy on the keyboards at times, but on this album they took the focus to the guitar so you can really notice how the songs play together.  I personally like this newfound approach to their production, I have spoken with a few fans who did not like this approach nearly as much as I did, but alas I can’t help but praise their newfound approach.

One of the more impressive tracks held on “New Obscurantis Order” was “Hail Tyranny,” a piano solo by Xort.  You won’t find anything like this on this album, so unfortunately you don’t get to hear him flaunt his skill as a pianist.  This is probably due to two reasons that I can identify.  One being that he already did it and doesn’t feel the need to show off again, because Anorexia Nervosa seem to be quite respectable musicians and realize that too much flaunting lends to people being bored with such a practice.  I must say, though, that the orchestral keyboard work is nothing less than supremely impressive on here.  It sounds even more than ever like they worked with choirs or a full orchestra on this release.  I find this humorous; because bands like Dimmu Borgir who actually do work with real orchestral elements manage to suck so much more than Anorexia Nervosa and on so many more levels than just the keyboards.  The keyboards on “Redemption Process” lend that extra kick of power into Anorexia Nervosa’s design and give even more interest into their grandiose design.  Secondly, this is a concept album and doesn’t bear the need of such brazen musicianship because it would take away from the glory experienced to the tracks as a whole.  Thus I am lead to my lyrical interpretation of this indomitable release.

Anorexia Nervosa’s lyrical inceptions bear second only to those of Deathspell Omega this year (2004).  Like many bands in France and now spreading to other parts of the world, Anorexia Nervosa’s chosen topic on this release is religiously based.  One aspect of Black Metal of this nature that I have the utmost respect for is the care they put into the album's content.  No more is there mindless drivel about Satan and hating Christ, simply because they don’t like Christians.  Rather the reasons are backed up and brought forth in far more intelligent themes.

They specifically render their disdain for Christ as plain as day, but for the foolish reader, I could see them saying Anorexia Nervosa are converting.  When reading through the booklet I noticed printed within the thanks list “… all friends for support and late night phone calls during the hard days I’ve been through, you and I know who you are: Hreidmarr.”  I can’t help but think that this statement might have something to do with their sudden shift in concepts.  I mean to go from predominantly sexual lyrics to true religious enlightenment is quite a shift.

I look to the lyrics behind "Antinferno" technically, “Anti-Inferno,” but they have no doubt taken some poetic license.  “A new cross on the hills of Jerusalem held by the arms of a stronger Christ.”  One can take this in a couple of ways.  You could look at it as the literal translation of Christ meaning “Savior” which would mean that they agree with the Jews in the concept that the true savior has yet to grace this planet.  On the other hand they could mean Christ in reference to Jesus Christ meaning that a new religious power will focus on this world.  The Catholic Church, the obvious choice for representing Christian power and control, has done nothing but rape and destroy this world for a thousand years and more since its inception.  In a religion wrought with lies and deception this following line seems to bring to light that Anorexia Nervosa agree with the former rather than the latter of the two reasons: “Now this is the very beginning of the end.  Now lies have to be broken.  Yes, cursed be betrayers for they shall be left behind and on this day grace shall be redefined.”  This, I think, alludes to the Cabbalistic/Mystic connotation that wisdom and truth are the true representation of God rather than a diocese that lies seemingly perpetually.

As further proof for Anorexia Nervosa’s endless hatred for Christianity I turn to “Worship Manifesto” to the specific lines, “Seven mortal wounds for my vanity.  Stigmata of your mockery.”  This clearly identifies that Christianity is a religion of the vain.  A conclusion I have long ago come to.

"Codex-Veritas" seems to be a true acknowledgement behind this wisdom and truth of the universe.  “Learn to not care about their punishments.  Act of war and liberation.  You are not one of them, not the same breed.  You always felt out of place.  Join your true scene.  You want fire, you burn.  Want the Great, not minor.  The absolute, the black and blue, the forever storm.”  For me this is a statement about the achievement of freedom.  Living and growing up in a religious community and then completely breaking away from it!

For my final lyrical work up I turn to “The Sacrament” the closing track on this album for those who have the regular jewel case edition.  “It is coming.  My last day, sinner and saint.”  As a closing track this is superb because it alludes to the fact that everyone dies and no one can escape the fact of doing good or doing in evil  in some way.  “We’re all waiting for this masquerade to end and nothing happens.  No tears required just some dead meat between your thighs.”  Since this album takes reference from Christianity, the masquerade could be the predominant Christian faith in the world as being a masquerade.  Everyone is waiting for the truth to be revealed and clearly Christianity is not going to give any answers.  In fact I think this ending to the album digs even deeper and delves into an atheistic concept.  This would be the "...and nothing happens" part.  Meaning, when you die... you just die.  That is the end for you!  Atheism really is the most logical conclusion.

For those that have the special edition digi-pak such as myself you can find an Indochine cover called “Les Tzars.”  A song completely in French and a bit more upbeat than the other works of Anorexia Nervosa, but I have yet to hear the original unfortunately.  Honestly, I think the song is interesting and quite enjoyable and doesn’t really take away from the awe inspiring concept held within this release.  However, I can see why they made this a limited press of six thousand copies; because it could take away from the overall majesty they exhibited here.

Clearly I highly recommend this album and I think it is a real testament to their true abilities as musicians and philosophers.  It may be an easier album to grasp musically, but lyrically it has myriad points that can enlighten those who seek out deeper meanings.  This is a truly great work about the “Redemption Process” on this planet.

Anorexia Nervosa - Suicide is Sexy
Apokalypse Records, 2004
Genre: Black/Death Metal

Nihil Negativum:
1. Scene I: Le Patient Est Isolé
2. Scene I: In A Brown Gnostic Study
3. Scene II: Quelque Chose Comme L'idée Qu'il N'aurait Mieux Pas Fallu Naître
4. Scene II: Anamorphic Effect; The Revival
5. Scene III: Retrouver Son État Initial, Éviter… Avant Qu'il Ne Soit Trop Tard
6. Scene III: In The Mental Confinement (Mosaïc Of Infinite Visions)
7. Final: Avec Le Triomphe De L'esprit Et La Faillite De La Déite
Garden of Delight:
8. The Shadows Howling
9. Garden of Delight
10. Dismal Paradise
Live At Le Caméléon, Lille, France In 1995:
11. Autoerotic Death
12. Lepros Darma

Even though this came out in the year 2004 this is not new material.  In fact it’s the re-release of their demo material.  One of them, “Nihil Negativum”, actually got some distribution in the underground. However, the other one “Garden of Delight” seems to have been something that band has kept to themselves.  So this is probably one of the only places you will be able to hear these three tracks, which pre-dates their more “official” demo of “Nihil Negativum.”  Furthermore “Garden of Delight” is so old that it came out when they were known as the band Necromancia, thankfully they later came up with something more original like Anorexia Nervosa.  Anyone deep into the underground has heard of Necromantia, so there may have been future confusion.

Now this is an extremely limited release with only 999 being printed.  I have #592 hand numbered.  It
comes in an excellent boxed package with a jewel cased CD inside.  Inside the boxed case the whole band has signed the interior of the box, so this is truly a collector’s item.  These things lasted probably two months, tops, before they went out of print, so unfortunately it is no longer an easy album to acquire.  So if you are an Anorexia Nervosa fan and you collect their material, if you ever see this I suggest getting it.  Getting an original print of this will only become more difficult as time goes on and as Anorexia Nervosa becomes more popular the price of “Suicide is Sexy” will eventually be worth a decent sum of money.  So don’t hesitate if you see one somewhere.  The cover on the Jewel Cased CD was supposed to be the cover for “Exile,” the bands first full length release.  However, the record label had rejected it, but it is finally in print for you to see now.

For those who are more familiar with Anorexia Nervosa’s newer material, be forewarned this is nothing like the music they play now.  If you read my review for “Exile” you will see they were not a Symphonic Black Metal band in the beginning.  Their demo material isn’t very similar to “Exile” either, but it bears more resemblance to “Exile” than say, “Drudenhaus.”  The first demo you hear on this release, “Nihil Negativum,” isn’t like “Exile” either, it’s actually more Death Metal oriented in my opinion.  Mostly due to the vocals, the guitar work is still just as strange as that on “Exile.”  It seems that when Anorexia Nervosa was conceived as a concept they had initially intended to write a sort of Play in album format, and then perform this play on stage as live shows.  A novel idea, however, their music was quite lacking.  I think the general ups and downs of tempo and feel of the songs is designed to mimic the characters emotions.  It was a good idea, but it was poorly executed on “Nihil Negativum” and even on “Exile.”  The demo material is nothing exciting, but you can hear the band’s potential as musicians.  I’m glad Season of Mist picked them up after hearing this because that allowed Anorexia Nervosa to develop into what they are today, which is vastly different from how they started.  It seems each song has a sort of introduction, strange keyboard effects with spoken word in French over it.  I think the actual metal songs are spoken in English though.  I rather wish they had printed the lyrics on this release, I think they would be interesting to read over.

The next demo material was recorded in 1993, and it’s before they were even called Anorexia Nervosa.  I wasn’t even aware they were called Necromancia at one time, nor did I know this demo even existed; all I knew about was “Nihil Negativum.”  I can see why this one got them nowhere.  It wasn’t anything new; it seemed like under produced Death Metal with a slight attempt at clean guitar tone experimentation.  Granted I enjoy having this old material, to see how Anorexia Nervosa developed as a band and in the end it amazes me even more that they became who they are today.  However, the music is not very desirable, but what do you honestly expect from Demo material.  It’s not going to be top notch, however, even with good production I don’t see the “Garden of Delight” demo ever interesting me much musically.

The extra material, which is only available on this CD are two live tracks recorded in 1995.  I’m simply amazed at the quality of this recording.  It’s done in 1995… and I can hear everything.  This is simply impressive; if anyone listens to the live Mayhem recordings they know the recording quality is less than desirable.  However, somehow, probably a miracle of modern technology, Anorexia Nervosa has captured one of their early live performances successfully.  Granted the music isn’t anything to brag about, but the two songs featured are better than the songs on “Nihil Negativum” so it shows that they were improving all the time.  However, the vocals at the beginning of “Lepros Darma” are just weird and don’t even need to be performed in that manner.  I’m not sure what the purpose of doing that was.  It threw me off when it came on, because “Autoerotic Death” flowed quite easily.  Another aspect of this ultra rare CD is the bonus live video track also recorded in 1995.  I’m rather impressed Anorexia Nervosa still had all this extra material, or salvaged it from fans.  It’s not something I wouldn’t expect to still be around after almost ten years.  The video track is interesting; it’s the performance for the closing of the “Nihil Negativum” demo and is around eleven minutes long.  The quality isn’t too bad, the music is audible and you can see the band.  However, its video taped further back in the crowd, so you see all the fans at the venue in front of you.  There are no close-ups of the band or anything; it’s just a still camera capturing the performance. 

In closing I’m honestly quite glad I have this album in my collection.  It would be very difficult to locate in the future.  Regardless of the music’s quality it is still an enjoyable listen.  It was an interesting evolutionary note that early on Anorexia Nervosa leaned more towards a Death Metal vocal performance than Black Metal.  I would have guessed otherwise, so needless to say I was surprised.  As a collector, this is a must have release, it is beautifully packaged and well worth the money spent on it.  However, it is not something to purchase for its musical content, merely if you are curious about where the band came from in the beginning.

No comments:

Post a Comment