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Anubis - A Tower Of Silence CD (album) cover

A TOWER OF SILENCE

Anubis

 

Neo-Prog

4.12 | 380 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
5 stars A towering symphonic journey of compelling concepts.

Anubis have a commanding sound with swathes of synths and electrifying guitars. Hailing from Australia, not renowned for its prog output, the band fly the flag with admirable virtuosity proving that excellent prog does not necessarily have to come from UK, USA, Italy or other far off places. The music deviates from spell binding synth soaked ambience to heavy crunching guitars. At times there are complex time signatures and at other times the melody dominates with a simple chord progression. Anubis create soundscapes of poignant themes and glorious lengthy instrumental breaks. There is a tension with shades of light and dark using a variation of styles that range from symphonic to Neo Prog. The actual concept according to the band's website is based on the "Earthbound spirit of an 11 year old pauper's daughter, lost within the walls of the Victorian poor asylum in which she lived and died, and how she became trapped there" and is now in limbo crying out for release. Interestingly enough I never interpreted it as such but it certainly holds interest as a compelling tale of someone attempting to escape entrapment. The tale is akin to Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Cask of Amontillado' where the villain entombs his nemesis in stone walls brick by brick in a tower, thus silencing his jibes once and for all. The album cover depicts an object trapped in time, a stop watch floats in an orb discarded on a desolate landscape. The vibrant blue is a striking design evoking pure images on a crystalline palette. The gatefold has a vibrant design of sparks trailing to a darkened sky. The booklet is adorned with a closeup of the clock, and inside are the lyrics. The CD also has an enigmatic clock design tying in with the theme of time standing still.

'The Passing Bell' is such a majestic piece of music, a 17 minute epic, wiith magnificent structures, odd time sigs, and organic flowing music encompassing many emotional resonances. I particularly like the way the song shifts into several pentatonic sigs, notably the guitar riff. The searing lead break over shimmering Hammond and pounding drums of war round off the dramatic epic feel. Pink Floyd springs to mind at times in terms of style. The vocals are replete with questions to invoke consideration; "Where is he who can't be found, where is she who calls me fear, who are you to call me here." The ambience of sustained keys and spacey effects is a mesmirising soundscape that will pervade throughout the album. There is a sudden sig change and intense vocals; "I'm feeling no connection to those who cage me here, I'm feeling no protection from the words I hear." The earthbound spirit is now calling out for redemption from the corruptible but immortal state, reaching out an unlineal hand as it were to no avail. A bell tolls with sweet synth tones leading to the next section. Ambience permeates the atmosphere, as gentle piano continues to the next verse; "I wish I could stay by your side again." The concept of searching for spiritual enlightenment appears to be the main focus, but once one knows the main premise it is actually the cries of a spirit who desires the things once enjoyed; "I wish I could pray again". She may have lost faith due to the terrible things she has had to endure, but she is searching for assurance that what she once believed is the truth; the things we may take for granted are now foremost on her mind as she is helpless to sense and to touch and to feel, well at least that is my take on it. The drums and vocals at the end are portentous of impending doom, or it could be a gateway to a new enlightenment. This is perhaps the best song on the album with some of the most inspired riffing and expressive playing by all concerned and especially the expressive vocals of Robert James Moulding.

This moves seamlessly into 'Archway of Tears' with delightful acoustic twin work virtuoso musicianship of Douglas Skene and Dean Bennison. The lyrics continue the darker themes; "evil woman with dark stare, said I was the cause of this, I lay upon the covered floor, as the tears stream down my face, I shiver from the cold night's breath, whispering my name". The vocals are clear and have a passionate and vibrant tone. This song is more like the Neo Prog of Pendragon, IQ or Arena. The acoustic phrases and mellotrons work beautifully with each other. The echoes of heavy steps at the end are foreboding perhaps signifying someone leaving the archway, escaping the tragedy that has befallen them metaphorically.

The melody is strong with 'This Final Resting Place' and I am particularly taken with the everpresent sparkling organ played by David Eaton. It is a dynamic sound from Anubis that is generated using layered multi tracking and very powerful keyboards and guitar. The glockenspiel is a nice touch and this song is one of the more reflective tracks about death. 'A Tower of Silence' is a slow melancholy piece with some potent lyrics about the tragedy of death and the spirit looks out of her silent tower envying the living humans; "lives that change, feel so light, bright, white". The lead guitar builds into the instrumental over some gorgeous organ and the percussion embellishments of Moulding. The song changes with acoustic picking and synth layers. The lyrics may be interpreted as dealing with grief and how time heals the pain; "in time you'll see, no time to grieve." The lead break that follows is vibrant with high string bends and strong sustain. The musicianship enhances the mood of sadness and reflections of a spirit who is trapped in a sepulchral tomb not able to experience the human senses; "I cannot see, I cannot breathe, I cannot feel my love." A simply haunting song that grows on you with every listen.

'Weeping Willow' is a shorter song that has beautiful music and soft harmonies; "who would bring me to this place and never show their face, they beat me to believe and push me on my knees." This track has a nice melody especially when the vocals sing; "I remain alone and faithful misguided by angels." The thunder and storm effects lead to the ominous drone of 'And I Wait for my World to End'. A spacey sound is punctuated by driving lead guitar riffage and a pulsing bassline by Nick Antoinette. The time sig is odd and especially the percussion sparks with vitality. The melody is memorable and it has a fantastic bridge with heavy distortion and Moulding's vocals sound like Roger Waters at his most manic. The ascending chord changes have a dark feel as it builds to an outbreak of more grinding organ leading to the chorus.

'The Holy Innocent' is a measured metrical shift with a steady rhythm. The lyrics are the protagonist crying out, desperately pleading; "I want to hear your voice calling out my name, with your words I'm paralysed, I need to hear them all the same." The piano motif is lovely and imposing lead guitar swells create an atmosphere of melancholia. The music sounds like Porcupine Tree or the style of IQ in places. The protagonist declares; "I live inside this cage." Escape seems impossible and it appears that she is eternally entombed; "And this dream I dream it has no sound as I lay still beneath the ground." The song ends with an incredible saxophone solo, as good as Dick Parry or Jaxon. It really lifts the music to another level and, as icing on the cake, makes this one of the classic songs on the album that should be heard by anyone who enjoys virtuoso prog. The way the song fades out with scorching sax and keyboard pads is similar to Pink Floyd's 'Money'. The clock ticking further cements this impression of sounding like "Dark Side of the Moon" in places.

A tolling piano note opens 'All That Is', a three part multi movement suite. It features in the first section 'Light of Change' mellotron dominating until heavier guitar riffs come in, and sporadic drumming. The verses include chiming keys, aggressive drums and reflective vocals; "I scale these walls that I can't see, they make no sound, they whisper to me, rescue me, from within". The way the quivering Hammond organ sound grinds in always is an effective augmentation, and there is a dreamy synth passage leading to the second section, 'The Limbo of Infants'. The cadence picks up, and the vocals are more urgent; "you and I will never know we lost that chance some time ago." Another lead break resounds with spacey textures and we are into the last section with 'Endless Opportunity'. There are choral intonations and the layered music fades out as the choral section is mixed to the front. At this point we can hear the harmonies, soaring and spiritually edifying. It sounds as if the angels have arrived and finally released the entombed spirit, well I like a happy ending so I am sticking to that.

At the end of the album there is a lasting impression that we have heard some accomplished musicianship with powerful conceptual themes. There are parts of this album that feature incredibly proficient musicianship. It washes over the listener evoking reflective thoughts and spiritual guidance. The lyrics focus on finding answers and are typically obscure enough for one to make up their own minds as to what the themes are conveying. It is certainly one of the better Neo prog albums with strong symphonic nuances throughout, especially coming from Australia, and I am so glad I was priveliged to hear such a wonderful concept album from Anubis.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |

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