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Anubis - The Second Hand CD (album) cover

THE SECOND HAND

Anubis

Neo-Prog


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5 stars Review from promotional copy:

After loving Anubis' second album - A Tower of Silence (still highly rated on PA after all these years) - a fairly heavy criticism of organised religion seemingly disguised as a ghost story; I had warmed to their slightly edgy lyrical and conceptual stance. 2014's Hitchhiking to Byzantium seemed to represent a different place, and whilst the songs were still very strong, it lacked the cohesiveness and the desire to hear it repeatedly as a complete piece seemed to elude me.

I caught the band in London a couple of years back, and with 'Silence' material dominating all else in their set, I felt they could maybe repeat the trick and turn out something else of comparable beauty and impact.

The Second Hand, largely, seems to have achieved this. Where a world has turned upside down, good guys aren't necessarily good, and nobody knows anything anymore, Anubis steams into the media establishment that gave us Brexit, Trump, ISIS and an endless cavalcade of bad news, anxiety and scalding, debillitating empathy.

By creating a Murdoch/Maxwell/Beaverbrook hybrid, the English public school educated, emotionally disconnected uber- tory James Osbourne-Fox, Anubis project their rage at the system that created the wealth inequity, the establishment and its self interest. It's like Marillion's FEAR in intent, but this one is really furious about it. He suffered some form of accident, or perhaps attempts suicide - 'a noose no longer evades' (we're not told, it's kept vague)

The lyrics are amongst the strongest the band ever had - with the plight of an incapacitated Osbourne-Fox dealt with from the point of regret and realization of the ultimate futility of wealth and power, the ultimate 'you can't take it with you when you go moment'.

Musically, the band have mined the 'classical' approach. It's a symphonic prog record in all but name. The band have claimed to have used vintage equipment, including Hammond organs and mellotrons, and it certainly has that texture all over it. But it doesn't feel like a prog pastiche either, it's literally burning over with ideas and different stylistic approaches that all seem to reach the same end goal. There's beautiful vocal harmony that almost has a west-coast feel, there's avante garde psychedelic moments, some strong stately anthemic passages, sound effects, and in the epic Pages of Stone, arguably their strongest recorded moment, where the ensemble playing is devastatingly effective and the climax rivals even 'The Holy Innocent' for emotional impact.

Is it as strong as A Tower of Silence? It certainly feels like it may be. Time will tell.

Report this review (#1707739)
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2017 | Review Permalink
Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
5 stars Are they serving their first or second hand here, or what? ... oh, it doesn't matter. It's not the bands first sign of life of course. This new ANUBIS album runs into a 70 minutes lasting revelation, when it comes to (my) prog standards. Going back to the very beginning ... similiar to Aisles due to 'Club Hawaii' this Aussie sextet made Fool's Gold and The Making Of Me available beforehand. Those songs are addictive really, sorta well sought out appetizer, which won't let you turn away in the aftermath, never ever. What stays, nothing but eagerly waiting for the release date ... and finally obsessively hoping for some more jewels, hell, yeah!

They are returning back to a concept album format, dealing with the downfall of media mogul James Osbourne- Fox, left paralysed and imprisoned in his own body after a severe brain injury, this obviously spiked with references to current conflicts worldwide. The cinematic touch predominantly comes from several interspersed samples, often representing the transition from one song to the next. As for that 'The Second Hand' ultimately comes as an epic unity, moreover somewhat ageless, sounding like a modern blend of neo and art rock, however, due to the offensive use of mellotron, organ and piano, also rooting in the early prog years too.

This album shows the band on its emotive peak, definitely. There's no need, respectively no chance, to emphasize any particular excerpt or involved musician. The entire compositional attitude belongs to the finest attempts I could listen to this year. Featuring diversity and a bunch of catchy moments, alongside with the technical and instrumental implementation, a really stunning result. By the way, Douglas Skene has offered another regarded effort with the band Hemina last year. Perfect, perfect, almost perfect! Hardly ever it occurs that I'll hand over a masterpiece status to a new album appearing ... now here we go!

Report this review (#1729831)
Posted Saturday, June 3, 2017 | Review Permalink

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