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Anubis - The Second Hand CD (album) cover





3.86 | 142 ratings

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5 stars James... James... open your eyes for me....

Surrounded by breathing machines and the sound of ominous TV and radio reports I'm sucked straight into the downfall of James Osbourne-Fox. A Rupert Murdoch figure, a 1%er.

This album is the true follow up to the bands still luminous second LP, but with the concept and message drawn into even starker focus and the material more varied. Take the opening single - 'Fools Gold' and tell me it couldn't have been very at home on Marillion's Clutching at Straws or Seasons End? A Tower of Silence had a brooding intense vibe all the way through - save the end of the last track, but this one emotionally zig zags between that same intensity (The Second Hand, The Making of Me, While Rome Burns, Pages of Stone) and the more uplifting musical sections that are steeped in reverie and reminiscence (Fools Gold, These Changing Seasons trilogy, Blackout). The highly engaging way the story is structured throughout the musical journey allows the listener to see the actions of the fallen protagonist through a more sympathetic viewpoint - that he was the product of a time and class system that damaged him and many like him. It's unashamedly cognitively dissonant; and all the better for humanising him.

Musically, the performances exceed those on Tower of Silence - the drumming and bass playing have more fire and unpredictability, with Pages of Stone a highlight in its 'Passing Bell' esque arrangement and development. Anubis excel at this 'everything including the kitchen sink' style of arrangement as it reaches frightening intensity throughout.

The band have been explicit in their promo about the exclusive use of vintage instruments in this album which is where the 'all too retro' criticism in some quarters may have come from. This does work very well for the album but may not be something that will work again and again for them, so it's best not to get stuck in 1975. However, to hear a real mellotron and grinding Hammond organ and guitars with tape delay effects is a joy that always excites an old prog guy like me. People do still make music 'like that'.

The vocals are the crown jewel on this album with Robert James Moulding soaring over the band in excellent voice. From a whisper to a roar, his range and register has expanded since Tower days and his voice and lyrics are the deserved centrepiece for what must surely be one of the best symphonic progressive rock records of 2017?

theinvisibleman | 5/5 |


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