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Ansur - Warring Factions CD (album) cover



Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ansur is a trio that stems from Norway, the land of black-metal. Ansur didn't break with the tradition on their debuts. However, with 'Warring factions', their second album, we can notice a clear transition towards more eclectic musical directions, encompassing jazz-rock, old-school prog (hammong organs) but also neo-prog (keyboards and guitar work on "sierra day"), soul, avant-garde, space-rock, funk, and even country-rock on one song. The metal of their debut is still present but more elaborate, with many shifting rhythms, prog-metal vein. Vocals are sung in the black/death-metal style (and this is probably the only weak point of this record), but the pace is rather slow, and aggressive passages alternate with lighter ones. This album is truly impressive and showcases the virtuosity of each other, their extensive musical knowledge, and their ability to incorporate in their music so many different styles with ease and avoiding the stylistic composition. None of the songs follows a single musical direction. The opening and closing theme of "cloudscaper" is a rendition of the main theme of James Bond film 'Diamonds are forever'. The last song ends majestically with an obvious wink to the music of Iron Maiden (the leading theme begins with a piano/guitar duo then hammond organ makes the transition to a guitar/bass/drums that recalls the good old compositions of the masters of british heavy metal). Hopefully the sudden change of direction in their music will not create divisions in the band. Moreover, taken into account their young age and the host of influences (Brian Eno, Rush, Voivod, Dream Theater, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Reuben Wilson, Spyro Gyra, Iron Maiden, Pat Metheny, Pink Floyd, Egberto Gismonti, Wishbone Ash, Marillion, Albert Lee, Arcturus), one can only expect further gems from this band in the future.
Report this review (#210986)
Posted Saturday, April 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#259654)
Posted Wednesday, January 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now this album kinda confused me at the start, it really took about 3-4 proper listens to fully grasp this album, Ansur are an incredibly talented progressive metal band from Norway, with elements of 70's progressive rock, black metal, extreme/tech metal, jam band, countryish rock and even just plain old heavy metal influences and it really shows, some parts sounded a lot like Enslaved fighting with Rush for control of some kind of power other's just drifted into the stratsphere with its fantastic lead solos that just came out of nowhere, now while i did really enjoy this album there was one fault i kinda didnt like with this album..the vocals.

Now while i am a big fan of extreme metal it just seemed to me like the singer was just throwing his voice around a lot and didnt just stick to one type of screaming/growling and it just sounded anoying and whiney rather than powerful and aggressive (like extreme metal should) musically though its class, opening off with some accoustic guitars on the first track before going into some cool Enslaved like riffs some Mars Volta moments a sax solo and ending with an awsome organ solo, yes a Saxophone AND AN ORGAN SOLO on an extreme metal album, its track 4 AN EXERCISE IN DEPTH OF FIELD that really shows off the guitar player Torstein J. Nipe fantastic talent with some awsome Sikth meets Between the Buried and Me type riffs and in the usual BTBAM style they have a cool country sounding mid section (which also sounds like it was recorded live in some venue) another interesting part in the album is the closing track PRIME WARRING ESCHATOLGIST the intro kinda reminded me of something Duran Duran would write, its just that diverse, but my favourite overall song was the epic CLOUDSCAPER the chorus has this fantastic Death meets Rush sounding vocal melody, just something that made me smile when i heard it;

The Tunguska Incident ? 7/10 Sierra Day ? 8/10 Phobos Anomaly ? 7/10 An Exercise In Depth Of Field ? 9/10 At His Wit's End ? 8/10 Cloudscaper ? 10/10 Prime Warring Eschatologist ? 9/10

My Conclusion? There's not many bands that come along this diverse and actually make it look easy, Ansur are one of them, just a great album for fans of prog in general.

Report this review (#282095)
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Crazy Norwegians, what are they gonna do next?

The real reason which got me into this band was the artwork for this album. It was just so attractive.

But yea, this album and this band does confuse me a little. At times it's hard to determine really what they are trying to achieve, but after a while you discover that maybe they're not trying to achieve anything at all. Maybe, this is just their sound, odd but interesting.

This band reminds me of an English band called No Made Sense, with their odd concept and musical approach (see my review of their album The Epillanic Choragi for more). These guys are way better than No Made Sense, but they do have a similar je ne sais quois about them). I'm also not the biggest fan of this bands vocalist, he tries to hard at times, and sounds like a poor mans King Diamond the odd time.

This album does take a while to get used to, but once you do, you really do discover how wonderful it is. Listening to it the second time, it does seem a little familiar, but it still confuses me.

The concept is quite interesting, based on Russia & Sci-Fi, with some un-narrated text (kind of like Bal-Sagoth). The instrumental work is very impressive, with Torstein Niepe playing the vast majority of the instruments, and being a very under rated guitarist.

1. The Tunguska Incident - Some interesting proggy flairs & some post black metal riffing. Very interesting. 9/10

2. Sierra Day - Great chorus. Love the instrumental sections and how the song progresses throughout. The guitar solo is very Pink Floyd. 10/10

3. Phobos Anomaly - Pretty kick ass & very odd. Amazing instrumental work. 9/10

4. An Exercise In Depth Of Field - The metal parts are very Ephel Duath. A very confusing song. The bluegrass section is odd but pretty interesting. 9/10

5. At His Wit's End - Interesting chorus. Vocals are a wee bit weak. 8/10

6. Cloudscaper - Love the doomy intro. The odd dynamic changes are pretty cool as well. 9/10

7. Prime Warring Eschatologist - Nice ambient intro. Well crafted song. The ending is pretty epic. 9/10

CONCLUSION: The interest of this album is worth the price alone really. They will baffle your mind though.

Report this review (#299341)
Posted Thursday, September 16, 2010 | Review Permalink

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