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Ansur - Warring Factions CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.80 | 25 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Talented Kids Dive off the Indulgent End

Norwegian upstart Ansur's debut AXIOM was a promising, if rough, piece of work that I really enjoyed (see review). When I saw the beautiful cover of the follow-up WARRING FACTIONS, I was extremely excited to see where the band had gone. Alas, the prog-black metal is gone and in its place is something truly amazing?the end of the quest to pack as many genres into one album as possible. Having clearly listened to Between the Buried and Me's COLORS way too many times, the band moves into a straighter metal basis to launch into a "Everything including the kitchen sink and that thing you wring out the mop with in the basement" approach that is a big disappointment after the potential I heard in the debut.

The basic sound here is power metal with a lot of progressive elements, and is over half instrumental. But through the album we get an extended country hoedown, dance music, ethereal ambient passages, and virtually every style ever attached to metal. The song "An Exercise in Depth of Field" explains exactly what the intention was. The band does a passable, in fact interesting, job in each style, but what happened to the songs? With style changes happening so frequently, the entire album washes together into one big genre- mash. There is supposed to be a conceptual story line, but the vocal passages are painful and separated by so much noodling that there is little motivation to keep track of it.

One thing has improved by light years ? the production. The guitar tone is less amateurish, the mix is more unified, the effects are less overwhelming. What's more, the guitar playing is very impressive. In fact, this whole album seems like a prodigy guitarist with no direction to go. Restrained on the debut with flashes of brilliance, on the follow-up the term "self- indulgent" is an understatement. The talent of string slinger Torstein Nipe and crew is never in doubt. (Well, bassist Espen Aulie's vocals are atrocious, especially unaffected as they are on this album. The idea to over-process on AXIOM was smart.)

I applaud the band's attempt to evolve. But if they truly want to create their own sound (as per their promotion materials) they'll need to look back at what worked in their debut album. Good prog-goth-black is not that common. Good vocals in that genre are almost nil. Thank something for Garm. But songwriting is where the band needs to look hardest at itself.

And I hope they do. There is plenty of talent in this band, and plenty of potential. But unless you're just looking for audacious intensity in the form of genre-bending, get AXIOM.

Negoba | 2/5 |


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