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Introitus - Anima CD (album) cover





3.86 | 76 ratings

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4 stars Elements, the predecessor to this album, is one of my favourites of all time, with its gut-wrenching emotions marking a work that was nothing short of genius, so following this up was always going to be a mighty ask for any act.

Swedish band Introitus have, though, made an excellent job. Anima, an interesting examination of the human soul, or psyche, once again highlights all that is interesting and endearing about the band, but does also move the band's sound forward in that there is far greater room for expression by Pars Helje and his guitar, and he takes full advantage with some memorable riffs and rhythms.

At the heart of all that is best here, though, again, is the wonderful combination of wife and husband - Anna Bender on vocals, and Mats on keyboards.

There are three ten minute plus epics to delight our senses here. The first, Broken Glass, is, to these ears, perhaps the least convincing. When it is good, with heavy, crashing riffs accompanying the beautiful sound of Anna's voice, then it is very good. Regrettably, this is not perfected throughout the entire ten and a half minutes, as some parts are patchy, with a couple of minutes of filler, really.

Slipping Away clocks in at over eleven minutes long, and opens with the most delightful bluesy guitar riff, and special mention here must be made for the sensual bass lines provided by Dennis Lindkvist, ably backed by the fantastically produced thunder of Mattias Bender on drums. The vocal drips with feeling, and deals with that timeline common to all souls, that of facing death of the flesh. The wall of sound that is created is a joy to listen to, and the whole piece gels together in a lock tight fashion.

The final epic is the title track itself, Anima. It really is a wondrous track, a beautiful paeon to the eternal nature of the changing nature of the seasons and life itself in the beloved forest where The Bender family reside, and wrapped in a satanic fable. It is exceptionally dark in places, but the fusion of symphonic, soaring rock, and folk tales ultimately brings a warmth that only this act are capable of. There is even time for a pulsating mini-drum solo, which highlights gleefully the talents of young Mattias.

The comedown from the emotional wave of Anima is the pretty piano led instrumental, Exire, and we also have a two and a half minute "secret track" with which to close proceedings entirely. Both do the difficult job of bringing us safely back to earth to chill perfectly.

Elsewhere, there are plenty of other delights awaiting the listener. The Gothic, and ghostly, Who Goes There is a rollicking seven minutes of spooky fun, worth the entrance fee for Mat's swirling poltergeist keys alone. This is easily the most haunting fun had since Genesis delighted us with Home By The Sea, and there are some very heavy passages to rock us out.

You Will Always Be My Girl is, as you would imagine, a tribute to daughter Bender, whose lovely features, with her beau, adorn the striking album cover. Genuine, heartfelt, and an uplifting track to savour. Anna demonstrates, again, just what a lovely voice that she has, and it really is a shame that the wider pop listening world will never hear it. This lot, in another era, would have been massive.

Lastly, Free is a deeply intelligent piece of modern rock, with folk sympathies running deep. There are no lyrics as such, but a soaring chant which accompanies a rich band instrumental, with some easily detected Focus influences therein. This is easily one of the finest tracks I have heard in 2014.

Let me tell you, Introitus are so much more than just a neo prog band. Whilst that sound is their forte, they produce so much more than this. Above all, I think that the best tribute I can pay to a band kind enough to do an interview with me on this site is that my life is infinitely richer for having had them enter it. They are a joy, and this four star album comes highly recommended to you all.

lazland | 4/5 |


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