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A TOWER OF SILENCE

Anubis

Neo-Prog


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5 stars Once again, my home country is generating some of the most beautiful progressive music that this world has seen. 'A Tower of Silence' brings everything that the former record brought without some of the questionable production moments. The rhythm section, especially the bass is huge on this record with the playing as a band magnificently tight. The standout tracks for me are the 17 minute opener 'The Passing Bell', the eerily haunting 'Weeping Willow', and the uplifting closer 'All That Is...'

I still struggle with the Neo-Prog label that this band has received from ProgArchives as you will not hear any Pendragon, Arena or Marillion type sounds (except maybe H era Marillion).

What you can expect from this is an emotional, powerful and epic listen time after time. Buy this record!

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Send comments to ProgressiveMetaller (BETA) | Report this review (#535189)
Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I loved the first Anubis LP. It seemed to contain all those elements that I strive for, empassioned vocals, great song writing, striking cover art, and good, extended arrangements. For a debut it was solid and I wondered where they would go from there.

The last two tracks on that LP, 230503, were the ones that made sense of the previous 35 minutes. It was a sum of it's parts, but without the epic sweep of those songs, that album would have not been nearly as interesting. It seems Anubis knew this too. So they've made a whole album like that.

Instead of waiting 55 minutes to show some fiery prog credentials, they hit you from the off with the 17 minute 'The Passing Bell', a curious blend of Mellotron and Spaghetti western, into a grinding heavy riff with King Crimson like intensity, before dropping back for vocal harmonies and layered mellotron strings. The first five minutes are very good indeed. It then goes into an abrupt change into an off the wall almost European sounding Harpsichord passage before working its way into a full band section. It was a twist I wasn't expecting, and to be honest has taken me a few listens to quite get into. Now I think it's really effective. The second part is another big riff before a Genesis-esque chorus with big bass pedals and a gorgeous vocal (the biggest improvement over the last album is the lead singer who really nails it here), before a Marillion Out Of This World-esque synth wash with echoes of Richard Wright floating through. A delicate piano line takes us into the final section with torch song vocals and a blistering Gilmour/Rothery type lead that is devastatingly beautiful.

The theme of the intro returns in the coda before the segue into the second track (and lead off single in their native Australia) 'Archway Of Tears'. It's again a rhythmically quirky rocker with layered harmonies that has moments of Queen, Zeppelin and Mars Volta, combined with an Alan Holdsworth-esque solo. Nice. The following track is more like 'The Collapse' from their first album, only better. Great vocals, huge epic keyboards and a Wishbone Ash like dual from the guitarists at the end. What's not to like?

This seques through an ambient section into the haunting title track, which features the hallmarks of mid 1970's Genesis without aping them. The piano playing is sympathetic and the vocalist comes into his own. The harmonies are sublime and the flute just strengthens the Genesis connection. The whole piece then falls into an Entangled/Ripples type feel before the stunning guitar solo that culminates in an orchestrated guitar choir. It's a collosal sound. 'Weeping Willow' (why does all of this sound so English?) again features the acoustic guitars with the band all singing choral vocals . It's supremely effective coming where it does, and allows a juxtaposition for the rockier 'And I Wait for My World to End' (such uplifting titles!) which again succeeds in capturing the essence of their earlier sound, only better done. The chorus is memorable and the harmonies are subtle but well done.

The musical high is the following track, the 12 minute 'The Holy Innocent' which is perhaps the best thing on either record I've heard. All the elements of classic symphonic prog is here, the drama, the musicality, the fragility and the bombast. It's a tour-de-force thats capped off with a stunning saxophone solo that tugs at every heartstring. You'd have to be built like a brick dunny*(nod to Australians) not to be moved by it.

The final track, 'All That Is...' is another big epic piece that begins feeling a bit like something from off side one of 'The Lamb' before settling back into a Brave-era Marillion outro. The band did the old Floyd trick of adding some female voices to sweeten up the choir effect at the end that leaves one in goosebumps, ready to listen again.

Make no mistake, I am not easy to please. This album, if heard by enough people, has the hallmarks of being a recognised classic. It's ultimately more convincing than it's still-excellent predecessor and it seems these chaps are staying around and making very convincing Symphonic Prog that runs rings around many other albums that are coming out. They sound familiar enough that you can be taken by them, but different enough and contemporary enough that there is still a youthful vigour about them. I think I've found my No. 1 LP of 2011 right here. Unless someone does something really remarkable.

A truly excellent modern symphonic progressive rock album.

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Send comments to theinvisibleman (BETA) | Report this review (#537090)
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I find the new Anubis CD on the excellent Bandcamp site, hearing of it on their website. Welcome the sublime "A Tower of silence." I am a fan since hearing of the opus 230 503 and this second album is even better. The music, as is the ancestor is symphonic and powerful with soaring epic melodies but its a better understanding of the subtle that makes "Tower of Silence" of the better of the two. The sublime title song and beautiful Weeping Willow echo classic progressive rock stylings with the chiming acoustic guitars, and choral climax of the final song is haunting and beautiful. The holy Innocent is magnificent with a saxophone solo. A great band who have not disappointed by this second attempt.

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Send comments to AlexVigne (BETA) | Report this review (#541162)
Posted Tuesday, October 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow what a huge surprise!

Upon hearing the second recording of Sydney based prog rockers Anubis I was stunned.

I was stunned how mature the music is for a band so young. I was stunned by production of the record. But most of all i was stunned by the shear magnitude of brilliance this record brings. Sure you can be synical and compare it to the gods of the 70's who trail blazed their way through music history, or compare it to the mass produced records of the InsideOut in crowed. But 'A Tower of Silence' is a completely different kettle of fish.

The songs are well composed. Beautifully played. Excite the emotions. And create the story within your mind's eye.

With it's multiple epics, luscious sound pallet, Impressive vocal arrangements and well written in depth concept story, this will go down in the ages of progressive music. With an emphasis on the word 'Progressive' which is so lacking in modern prog rock!

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Send comments to ElBoyoLoco (BETA) | Report this review (#543894)
Posted Thursday, October 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This record really lives up to the promise shown by it's predecessor. It's still recognisable the same band but with a greater pallette from which to paint. It has several songs over the ten minute mark, including the breathtaking 'The Passing Bell' that runs a gamut of moods and feelings over nearly 18 minutes. Capped off by a solo that Gilmour would probably proudly claim. Likewise 'The Holy Innocent' shows off the epic and symphonic sweeping side of the band very effectively, and the song 'Weeping Willow' shows off the band's vocal harmony skills.

Anubis recently toured in support of Aussie proggers Unitopia and did a very good job of performing these arrangements live- no easy task. The musicianship is excellent and the ability to capture and hold moods is what makes these Sydney boys a truly exciting act to follow. Kudos!

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Send comments to ilikethebeach (BETA) | Report this review (#544360)
Posted Thursday, October 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'A Tower Of Silence' - Anubis (8/10)

After a considerable wave of positive acclaim came to my attention, I decided to check out this new album by melodic proggers Anubis. This is a band that seems to have taken the prog scene by storm. Their debut record '230503' also met some positive attention, and while I am never one to take hype like this as fact, I am usually interested enough to check out what the big idea is. 'A Tower Of Silence' is the band's second album, and despite the relative youth of this band, there is certainly no lack of ambition to their music and the risks they are willing to take.

Commonly labelled as neo-prog, Anubis does tend to lean towards the more melodic side of the prog rock spectrum, which is why some of the more proggy moments here really surprised me. 'The Passing Bell' is the opening track, a seventeen minute epic that opens with a riff in such a strange time signature, it felt uncomfortable to listen to at first, as if the music was malfunctioning and skipping over a measure or two. By the time the vocals come in though, there is a nice resolution to the odd time, and things start to make more sense for the listener. 'A Tower Of Silence' opens with its most ambitious track, and as epics go, 'The Passing Bell' really works, balancing off the recurring themes with new ideas quite nicely. The epic also transitions seamlessly into the second track, the 'single' 'Archway Of Tears'. The strong musicianship carries on here, although as far as the melodies of Anubis go, there is not anything here that becomes instantly memorable or catchy. All the same, Anubis have some very melodic vocalists- yes, they all sing! While these melodies only sunk in for me on the second listen, I was instantly impressed by the vocal harmonies, which layer the choruses with warm beauty.

'A Tower Of Silence' is bookended by its two highlights, the latter of the two being 'All That Is', which cycles through a number of different moods and ends with a cinematic choral passage that reminds me of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' and its gospel choirs. One more thing I would state about this album is the very interesting sense of production that 'A Tower Of Silence' has. It is not necessarily chaotic, but there are times here where the arrangement verges on being a wall of sound. Naturally, this is an album to listen to on the best set of speakers at your disposal. Anubis have made an excellent record here, although the album's length is overdrawn by an inch or two. Anubis are definitely on my radar now, and while only time will tell whether or not they take this mature style of theirs and do even better things, time will tell. Until then, 'A Tower Of Silence' is a very strong melodic album, with depth worth many listens.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#545434)
Posted Friday, October 07, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm sorry, folks, but, IMHO this album in no way matches up to this band's previous effort, 230503. The music has much more of a straight-forward rock'n'roll sound and feel to it--like post-Secret Treaties Blue Öyster Cult or something. The lyrics and singing are flat and unemotional. The sound mix is horrible: the bass is too far back and muted/dull (despite having some very interesting lines)--it's very hard to hear them beneath the drums). Even the album's best song, the title track, "A Tower of Silence" (9/10) starts like some standard bluesy-rock Journey ballad. The 17-minute epic opener, "The Passing Bell" (6/10), starts with some interesting fire but turns out to not have much else to offer--has almost an A-B-A-C-A-B song structure, just spread out over 17:08! "Archway of Tears" (7/10) begins with an interesting Strawbs/GG/JTull feel (harpsichord) but then falls into a straight rocker ŕ la Uriah Heep. "This Final Resting Place" (7/10) again starts with promise but really never delivers: weak chorus (musically) very strange mix (voices way back, keys and bass way forward). It just doesn't ever develop, and, up until the last minute-and-a-half, behaves like another straightforward ABACAB rock song. "Weeping Willow" (6/10) seems a poor imitation of that which Moon Safari is working on mastering. "And I Wait for My World to End" (8/10) has a very similar to "Leaving Here Tonight" feel to it (it's the singing)--and has a very pretty and powerful chorus, but fails to 'state something new' when compared to their previous album (one of my 10 favorite albums from 2009). Is it my imagination or is Roger James Moulding trying awfully hard to be Roger Waters with a Freddy Mercury approach? "The Holy Innocent" (8/10) brings the album back to long-length (and, therefore, prog??) songwriting. A nice song, overall, with some emotional performances and lots of familiar sounds (from the 70s--mostly Floydian--like the Gilmour guitar solo in the fifth minute, the Dick Parry sax solo and ticking clock at the fadeout. I forgot: This is Neo-Prog!) Banksian keyboard chord progressions--the most 'out of character' part is in the way the drums are recorded and mixed--so loud and far to the front (especially the cymbols). The album's closer, the eleven-minute "All That Is" (7/10) feels like it came from Genesis' And Then There Were Three... A pretty song that fades from memory as soon as the next one comes on. (Nice keys and drum work.)

After reading the rave reviews for this album over the past month or so I must admit I had pretty high expectations for this one. I flat out disagree. 230503 is still Anubis' crowning achievement. Take a rest boys; next time come back fresh and really inspired. 3.5 stars rated up for the fact that this group really tries to produce good quality prog--be it neo or not.

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#558670)
Posted Friday, October 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hometown bias aside, Anubis' second album really is a lovely piece of work. Solidifying the eclectic sound of their previous album, this takes a fair few of the traditional elements of progressive rock, mixes in a number of interesting twists and a modern flavour to create a Symphonic Prog masterpiece. Unlike another reviewer here, I also find that it's the memorable vocal melodies and harmonies that lift this album above similar sounding prog releases.

Australia is home to plenty of Pink Floyd cover bands and readily welcomes international Pink Floyd tribute bands (and Roger Waters) to its shores, but new, original progressive rock has been a rare thing until lately. Here we have two guitarists bringing their own influences and capable of excellent expressive guitar solos, solid syncopated drumming, lots of piano, mellotron, synths, keys and interesting basslines backing expressive vocals and meaningful lyrics.

This is a brooding, dark and climactic record, which is partially why I like it so much, and while it's fair to say that some of it has been done by someone, somewhere before, they mix it into their own unique sound. So all power to the guys, this is a superb album, I keep wanting to listen to it and I cannot find a fault with it, hence 'Masterpiece'.

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Send comments to praj912 (BETA) | Report this review (#561536)
Posted Wednesday, November 02, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Tower of Silence is a magnificent album. A really magnificent album.

This one takes the lessons learn from the very good, but ultimately flawed debut release, turn the dial firmly to 'classic', write some bloody brilliant songs and make an album that is near-perfect.

Everything about this record oozes quality. From the cover art which screams 'I am the bastard child of Pink Floyd' to the delicate flute solo in the title track.

To call this album a Floyd pastiche is a little unfair. It really takes in influences from all the albums I grew up with and repackaged them in a new and exciting prog for the 21st century. It sounds as English and quaint in places as early Genesis, but sometimes as modern as current Mrillion. All done to a very high standard.

The Passing Bell - the epic that kicks off the firestorm - is an 18 minute tour de force of Mellotrons, harpsichords, drums, bass and guitars. In a very strange time signature. A controlled cacophony. This hyperaggressive intro gives way to a pounding, almost tribal beat with melodious harmonies against a mellotron backdrop. The bass, like before is up in your face and thats just as well. The bass lines are fantastic. The piece ebbs and flows to massive conclusion, where it picks up with a plaintive piano into a sombre and beautiful final section, culminaing in one of the finest guitar solos I've ever heard.

The next track, Archway of Tears feels a bit like Led Zeppelin to me. With Queen style harmonies in the chorus. A curious blend of influences until the UK style guitar solo. This music is outstanding.

This final resting place feels in part like King Crimson, in part like Queen, in part like The Mars Volta. sometimes simultaneously. Can't really descibe it other than 'brilliant'. The guitars in the final section... wow!

The title track is almost perfectly like Genesis. Wind and Wuthering Genesis, but also with echoes of Pink Floyd, The Beatles even, and again Queen. The vocals are exceptional and it is an emotional highpoint. Great music.

Weeping Willow is the first valley, after the peaks before it. Here, we settle into a 'Lovers Leap' crossed with the Beatles 'Because'. It works, and is beautifully crafted.

For the most part, the melodic and accessible 'Wait for my world to end' is very reminiscent of modern Marillion, with melodic vocals and a hookline to die for (pardon pun, please). The Middle section leads from a shouty, heavier bit (Mars Volta, perhaps?) into a very Rick Wakeman 'King Arthur' type of stately theme on mellotron. A weird mix.

The next song is perhaps the clincher. The Holy Innocent is not only the best song on this disc, but also the best thing Anubis have ever done and one of the best songs I've heard in a very very long time. I could go on and on about it. So instead, just listen to it. It's really really something. The sax solo... magnificent.

The album ends with another fantastic three-parter, in 'All That Is', with again, piano and mellotron echoing the title track before moving into a more angular and aggressive 'fly on a windshield' type of mood. this has shifting arpeggios in different times underneath a fantastic vocal. It's not unlike mid-period Muse, and very obviously 21st century, without losing the feel and voice of classic prog.

This moves into the final section which again feels like a Genesis/Floyd hybrid. The vocal builds and builds before an almost orgasmic guitar solo that culminates in a gospel choir.

A musical assault on the senses. I love this record.

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Send comments to Skylinedrifter (BETA) | Report this review (#587023)
Posted Monday, December 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars Anubis is the last of my 6 recent arrivals to be reviewed, with Frequency Drift and Mappe Nootiche leading the raves. I gave it a cursory spin that did not bode well, so I put the gorgeous cover art package back at the end of the line, keeping my fingers crossed that a second, more attentive audition would yield a perfect score. Firstly, they have balls to kick off the proceedings with a 17 minute opus, "The Passing Bell", which incidentally has only a passing reference to the PF album of almost the same name. Anubis are quite different in that the vocals are more powerful and less dreamy, while their instrumentation requires more polyvalence, though in all fairness the massive fretboard solo is Gilmour Avenue all the way. The only problem I foresee with such an audacious beginning is that it will demand numerous replay Track 1 digitalis. Not that it's overtly complex, just different, perhaps due to a slight Queen influence mentioned by other reviewers. There is no doubt that a massive sonic harvest awaits the patient gardener.

On the stupendous "Archway of Tears" the gentle and the symphonic coalesce nicely, surprised by a series of short harpsichord grooves and then exploding into a fabulous bass led thunder streak, slicing guitar slashes and impassioned vocals coming to the fore. Rumbling organ and massed chorus add even more drama and a sense of a wow factor finally appears over the horizon. The crafty guitar solo screeches like a sharper Allen Holdsworth mixed in with some Jan Akkerman, so much for ripping the same guy off (poor Dave, he must be tired of suing them all for plagiarism) .

"This Final Resting Place" revs up the engine to a sizzling level, though the sound is very Neo at this point, one would venture Pendragon or even Credo, which is no slander whatsoever.. The colossal guitar duel finishes off the track nicely, aided by glockenspiel and smooth atmospherics along the way.

The title track"A Tower of Silence" is a melancholic recall of past prog leaders (Beatles, Genesis, Marillion, Queen, Fish etc?), the vocal sections evolve constantly, each a progression from the previous with elevated melodies and delivery. The band shows of its chops as well with some spirited team playing, where all instruments enter the fray in controlled cacophony. Since all members can sing, the choir work here is really to drool over as well, some well-placed flute adding to the charm. The string work ain't too shabby either, dual guitars wailing above the 4 string fortress. This track resembles something Quebec prog group Mystery would propose on one of its albums, complete with a wicked guitar solo that aims for the stars and succeeds effortlessly.

"Weeping Willow" is nice and brief, nothing more, nothing less. A rest before the whirlwind dervish "And I Wait for my World to End" , a similar rough jewel to "Archway of Tears" with insistent bass and spellbinding guitar carving the sweeping symphonics into wide swaths of bliss, the sad lyrics highlighted by somber singing. The darkness turns into rage and the vocalist really nails it, like on Credo's magnificent "The Letter", another fantastically dynamic track.

Two 11 minute+ epics draw to a close a rather sweltering audition and both are fabulous, the dreamy and Arena-like "The Holy Innocent" barrels ahead, guitar-powered and explosive at the outset and then evolves into a magnificent sax-led blowout , heavy on the mellotron (those two always get along but so rarely on records, darn it !) . Wow again!

The 3 part "All That Is" sets the sun with unadorned splendor, soft and hard meshing thrillingly, burly bass smashing forward leading the rest, rash slashes of guitar, ardent H�´sanna Hammonds and defiant drumming. This is really tasty when the soothing synth solo takes the stage, courtesy of David Eaton, a masterstroke of utter genius. Vocalist Robert James Moulding does a superb performance that is worthy of applause. The guitars stoke once again the fiery bonfire, mellotrons ablaze towards a majestic chorale finale that is mesmerizing. Hello Oz!.

So I need not to appeal this review, as I am now convinced that future auditions will only INCREASE the level of pleasure derived from its grooves. As I mentioned earlier, if you enjoy Mystery's last 2 albums (Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face and One Among the Living), you will really dig this remarkable recording.

4.5 Egyptian gods simply because , it's a definite grower that stipulates repeated returns , which will end up eventually at 5 stars.

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#596126)
Posted Sunday, December 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I heard this band for the first time last night on a Progzilla podcast and thought that it sounded pretty good so i decided to do a bit of further research. I managed to find their record through an online store and purchased it. I have not stopped listening to it. I frequently use Prog Archives but have never really thought about signing up until I heard 'A tower of Silence'. Where have you been hiding Anubis? The album begins with an amazing 6 part track called 'The passing Bell'. WOW! The track hit me in the face and made me hungry for more. After several listens to the record my favourite track would have to be 'A tower of Silence" itself. I found myself closing my eyes and enjoying the journey that this song took me on. It is clear that the band is influenced by Genesis, Floyd and Marillion however they have added their own signature to the music and I love it.

This album is definitely one of my Favourites for the year along with Haken. I cant wait for a chance to see these guys live and to also check out their previous release '230503'. If you have not had a chance to listen to 'A Tower of Silence' then do yourself a favour and grab a copy. You will not be disappointed.

Cheers

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Send comments to progbandit (BETA) | Report this review (#598519)
Posted Thursday, December 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Album that I've tried to review few times, but always deleted the words, because I simply felt few more listens are needed. And just like with other albums I've been putting out too long to review, Anubis's time has come. And it's a fine piece of work, consistent in sound (subtly exploring various aspect of it), but can I rate highly album that I know should be good, but I don't enjoy it at all ? Second listen in a row is in order I believe, because the only song I liked a lot was ending piece, All That Is, but I am afraid nothing will change. A pity, because of high recommendations I got for this album, so it's one of the biggest disappointments this year. Yet I don't dare to give less than 3 stars. After all, there will be many who will enjoy such album.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#607431)
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my first review. I am generally not a good reviewer, but this album has inspired me, and I simply must praise this album in words! Is this a five star album? I've only had it for a few weeks, but I've listened to it at least a half dozen times so far (including right now), and a few times on Bandcamp before that. It's at least a 4.5, maybe even 4.75, and since there are no half ratings here I will round up to 5. And honestly, I think it deserves it.

This is not neo-prog. This is pure Symphonic. Perhaps with a slightly harder edge than classic Symph, but no more-so than, say, Discipline. And really, it's probably just my imagination that some think there can be no "heavy" in Symphonic Prog. Plus honestly, it's not all that heavy, other than an occasional "guitar shred".

The bass on this album: So amazing! Some songs even have what I would call "lead bass"; or at least its the driving force of that particular section. This is something missing in many bands, where the bass is "just there".

Vocals: Wonderful! From what I can tell they have a "lead vocalist", sometimes a co-lead vocalist (the keyboard player/co-lyricist). He may sing occasional lead as well. Either that or the lead vocalist simply has a lot of different sounds! Either way, brilliant. All of the other band members are also credited (last) with vocals as well. So there are lots of lovely vocals here.

Keyboards: Lots of lovely mellotron, and some beautiful piano as well. Not much in the way of keyboard solos, but that's fine. All keyboard sounds are the classics; no lame 80s or 90s style synth patches here.

Drums: Nice. Nothing stands out as of yet, but that's perhaps because everything else is so wonderful I haven't had time to concentrate on them.

Guitars: As I've said, some great guitar here. Occasionally "heavy" but never metal. Some modern bands seem to think they always need metal in their guitar. Anubis proves this is not the case. Not that I don't like metal; I just don't think it's a requirement for being heavy or emotional. No fewer than four members are credited with guitar on this album. Two primary guitarists, along with the vocalist (someone needs to fix this on the PA credits) and the keyboard player. Can't say I ever hear more than two at a time, but hey.

Now for the lyrics. I generally don't care too much about the lyrics. As long as the singing is good, and the music is great, what more do you need? But I absolutely love these lyrics! According to their myspace page they tell the story of "...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". Before I read that I honestly thought it was a story about someones loss of religious faith and his arguments with God. Wonderful stuff, in any case!

Each song is 4.5 - 5 stars. I really can't choose a favorite, as each is wonderful, and each has its own distinct charm.

I got this too late (ordered in late December; received into January) to put it on my top picks of 2011, but here it is. Perhaps my favorite of 2011, in fact!

I will be buying their debut soon, and look forward to what they have to offer in the future!

(Yes, I am a fan of the exclamation point.)

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Send comments to infocat (BETA) | Report this review (#622715)
Posted Sunday, January 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#640065)
Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Released by Anubis in 2011 is A TOWER OF SILENCE. This is a pretty good album, but in the end I only downloaded 3 songs from it to my Ipod: "Archway of tears", "Final resting Place" and "Weeping Willow". They are labeled as Neo-Prog, but I would consider this Pop-Prog or Crossover-Prog. Very much melody driven rather than sound driven. I guess I would consider this a mix of Pendragon, Arena, Alan Parsons Project, and Yes. (Not the vocals, the music). I have seen some 5 star reviews of this album, but I cannot agree. It is good but not essential. The future of this band will be worth watching, though

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#746933)
Posted Monday, April 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Anubis were a band originally formed to bring a very specific concept to life, but evidently the warm reception their debut had amongst prog fans convinced them to give a shot at making something more of the band. A Tower of Silence is the make or break point - where it will either be shown that Anubis can create compelling material independently of the original concept, or where it will turn out that when you take the original idea behind the band away the whole thing collapses.

Amazingly, not only do the band survive the move away from their original reason for existence, but they actually thrive. A Tower of Silence is a neo-prog tour de force backed with incredible compositions. Standout track on the album is probably The Holy Innocent, which incorporates a blazing saxophone performance to back up the usual neo-prog guitar solos and keyboard flourishes. Few neo-prog bands have really used saxophone to such good effect - IQ on Capricorn from Subterranea is the only other example I can think of.

And, indeed, few neo-prog bands have been able to produce something sounding quite as fresh as this album, which boasts a distinctive sound which is clearly rooted in the prog tradition but isn't overly derivative of anyone else's style. Sheer glory from beginning to end.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#801228)
Posted Monday, August 06, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fellow PA member Infocat, Thank You!

I am a newbie and have been reviewing my favorites of the past mostly. So I thought I would come up to speed (sort of) and review this album which was recommended to me by Infocat in his response to my newbie introduction in the Forum. I have been listening to it for the past week and it is delightful, even though the concept of the album may not be so. It first sounded in a spiritual nature, but after further listens and reading reviews, it is about a mental patient but is uplifting

The first track, The Passing Bell, is the epic which starts out with sort of a Eloy sounding guitar (with much better vocals), but eventually gets to a Floydian sound in nature and ends in a majestic marching feel. Excellent.

The rest of the album is very good with various moods brought out in melodies that can stick in your head (in a good way). You can hear elements of Floyd, early Genesis, a little Beatles, as well as their own sound. It is filled with nice, deep moog sounds and ends in another majestic, beauitful tune (All That Is) that is full of driving moods and good vocal harmonies.

Having only listened to it a week, I give it 4.5 stars but will hold off to a 4 while I listen to it more.

PS-I would not have learned about this band if I had not joined PA and this been recommended. So join up if you are on the outside looking in.

AEProgman

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Send comments to AEProgman (BETA) | Report this review (#816524)
Posted Friday, September 07, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Transcendent! Outside standard

The typical disk you hear a few times and leave it, hear it again and gradually you discover that it is a rare piece, different, captivating. Admirable and compelling from the musical and emotional standpoint.

When conjugated emotion, melody and progressive musical ability, achieved a masterpiece like this.

The lyrics are intimate and on a spiritual quest, masterfully expressed. Regardless of creed, everyone is looking for answers, the meaning of life.

In the first issue, The Passing Bell, 11 energetic opening minutes, then the song turns into a prayer that begins with a piano that thickens with the rest of the instruments. Amazing! Super guitar work, and throughout the album.

This Final Resting Place, Tower of Silence and And I Wait For My World To End with its outstanding chorus, and masterful instrumental passages, smooth and powerful. The Holy Innocent is a rumble of energy, full of nostalgia.

All That Is ends with some pessimism, and little illusion. In another display of controlled force towards the end.

All musicians make a great contribution, the voice is also appropriate, with a distinctive intonation.

In short, no waste. To Discover and enjoy.

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Send comments to sinslice (BETA) | Report this review (#937545)
Posted Sunday, March 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars With the majestic layering of synths In the opening seconds of "The Passing Bell", it's apparent that something epic is about to happen on Anubis' album "A Tower of Silence". And the boys from Sydney don't disappoint.

The guitars kick in with one of the catchier 7/8 riffs I've ever heard. It never seems to outstay its welcome, even though it is used extensively throughout the 17 minute opener. One of the great strengths of "The Passing Bell" is how a number of different riffs and time signatures (4/4 and 5/4 are also thrown in) are all tied together so eloquently. Not only this, but we're treated to a number of emotions as new phases come and go. It's really a masterful piece of songwriting and execution and an audacious way to kick off the album.

That flow and sense of cohesion is still apparent as track two, "Archway of Tears" follows. As the harpsichord begins it almost feels as though we're still within the first track. As the other instruments join in, the bass takes centre stage. It's one of many great moments provided by bassist Nick Antoinette, who is amazing across the whole album.

The title track "A Tower of Silence" is also a highlight. There's more gorgeous piano from David Eaton in the intro, and vocalist Robert James Moulding is at his best here with a heartfelt, measured delivery.

"All That Is" closes out the album with another epic. The interplay of the rhythm section with the keyboards is at times mesmerizing. There's some great Gilmour-esque guitar to close out the album and, to ensure the hairs on the back of the neck are fully erect, a choir ensemble to add the finishing touches.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the drumming of Steve Eaton. It's consistently great across the album, and I love the slightly reverb-y production that has been used on the kit. It suits the album perfectly.

Aside from the music, the album cover is spectacular. It instantly sets an exquisite mood for the album and works as the perfect visual companion. Kudos to the photographer and art director in charge of that piece of work.

Overall a highly recommended album from one of Australia's most talented outfits.

4.5 stars

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Send comments to bonestorm (BETA) | Report this review (#951287)
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars On first listen this album took my breath away and for the first time in a long time I found myself restarting tracks consistantly in order to keep the music flowing and in order to varify that what I was hearing was as good as I was percieving it to be. After many listens now I am still blown away each time I spool this up.

"The Passing Bell (Part I - VI)" - This is an absolute giant of a track. It takes me on a trip outside of my head meaning that I get very personally involved in the music - it demands absolute attention. To compare it to something else is not easy as it holds melody and structures that remind me of the very best of all of my very favorite prog bands within the flowing, changing music scapes that make it up. It emulates none of the of the old prog giant tracks or bands however it encompasses them all. Quite simply this is at the top of the heap of my very favorite tracks along with "Supper's Ready" and the like.

"Archway of Tears" - To begin an album with a track as strong as the first one was and to keep the momentum would be difficult but Anubis get this track right as well. The bass lines in this are especially interesting to my ears.

"This Final Resting Place" - Not as strong as what came before but that isn't a negative as this is still extremely strong musical nirvana. Again I find the bass lines very interesting indeed.

"A Tower of Silence" - A quieter more moody piece. Very emotive and powerful. If the listeners mood isn't melancholy to start with this track will take him by the hand and take him to that place where loneliness resides. Very, very emotive and emotion inducing.

"Weeping Willow" - A short piece that continues the mood - it serves as a lull in the emotional storm of the music and in that it is brilliant.

"And I Wait for My World to End" - Musically this track kind of lightens the mood. Sounds very much like Floyd in parts, in a good way.

"The Holy Innocent" - With every listen I pick up things that I haven't heard before in this and that is a sign of really good music.

"All That Is" - Ends the album on a strong note. One feels as if one has been on a long journey after this closes.

This remains one of the strongest albums that I've heard and it remains at the top of my "will listen to again and again" pile of albums. It is a stunning whirlwind of emotion and intensity. I can't really categorise the music into the Neo Prog pocket however that is probably what it is closest to. A very solid 5 star effort as far as I'm concerned and I'm very suprised that this band and album haven't found more popularity here than 292 ratings suggest that it has especially where those 292 ratings average out at a 4.11 average rating.

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Send comments to sukmytoe (BETA) | Report this review (#996482)
Posted Friday, July 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Little-known Australian prog scene has been growing recently, but hasnt blown me away yet. Unitopia comes closest. Anubis sound like a cross between whiny Pink Floyd and indie rock. Some reequisite Pink Floydian guitar solos and buzzy, not too loud guitar sound, bu mostly layered synths.

This is a concept album. Most songs are quite long and take a while to make their point. Of those, Passing Bells (with its cool skipping riff) and All That Is, are most varied, with both more energetic and anthemic sections. But the rest is, maybe lush, but just too whiny and boring. There is a thin line between majestic and boring in prog, and hey, I like slow-moving bands like RPWL and such, and I like to write reviews - which by definition makes me boring - but even to me this stuff is same-y and tedious.

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Send comments to Progrussia (BETA) | Report this review (#1157720)
Posted Saturday, April 05, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Anubis' 230503 was a bit of a blindside. The band came from seemingly nowhere with a curiously edgy sounding take on classic prog. It had some excellent highs - the last two tracks sounded really vital, but the album was a bit patchy and was obviously a combination of first night nerves and inexperience. ATOS takes all of the promise, mixes in a confidence missing from the first set, adds a glorious cover, and sets it all to stunning music.

Anubis won't win any awards for being the most musically original band you'll ever hear. I will say that. The keyboard sounds are tried and tested, the guitar blends Gilmouresque melody with Govanesque pyrotechnics (so far so good) and the drums have the requisite blend of solid time-keeping and classic prog quirkiness. The bass is typically busy, Squire/Lee/Rutherford fayre, but with less bite and twang tonally.

However, none of that is a slight. As the songs are so bloody good that it doesn't matter how 'tried and tested' the sonics are. This album has majesty, it has heart and it's so damn well played, all of it, that it doesn't matter one iota if it's a mellotron or not.

The Passing Bell is a brave opener. If you can get through the opening barage (which I love) then you'll find the album opens up to you more and more, and by the time it reaches the haunting title track, you find yourself slightly mesmerized.

Where Anubis are different is their vocal sound. Robert James Moulding doesn't sound like Gabriel, or Fish, or IQ or Unitopia. There's lots of melody, lots and lots of vocal harmony and different voices too. It's not as much an acquired taste as say, Gentle Giant or Van der Graaff, but it is unique. There's a soulful rawness to the voice that seems to fit the albums desperate feel.

By the time it reaches The Holy Innocent - which I first heard on a Prog mag CD, it goes to another level altogether, and the saxophone solo of Martin Cook must surely be one of the best in recent prog. The last track, the beautiful All that is has a poignancy that grabs the heart strings and tugs for all its worth.

It's an album that continues to move me and make me think. Which all good music should.

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Send comments to RedKnot (BETA) | Report this review (#1188361)
Posted Sunday, June 08, 2014 | Review Permalink

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