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4 stars With SCREAMS AND WHISPERS, Anacrusis come out with their best effort since they're amazing debut, SUFFERING HOUR. It's interesting that a band like this could come out with four radically different albums... Their debut was progressive thrash par excellence, REASON dipped into much more atmospheric and moody compositions, and MANIC IMPRESSIONS was a concise and "cleaned-up" metal album. This time around, the band experiments with orchestral arrangements...

The idea isn't new for metal fans, who unfortunately had to endure the ambitiously awful Metallica misfire, S&M. Other metal bands have also tried their hands at this sort of thing with some success, most notably Therion. Anacrusis really does deserve some credit, though, for helping to pioneer this kind of thing...

It's the way that Anacrusis incorperate the symphonic elements into their sound that makes this album so successful... Take "Too Many Prophets," for instance... The strings in this track are seemlessly layered into the songwriting instead of written OVER it... Part of the reason why S&M simply didn't work was because it simply sounded like an orchestra playing over Metallica. SCREAMS AND WHISPERS, on the other hand, sound like the songs couldn't stand on their own without the classical elements. There's some absolutely stunning subtle-string work in "Tools of Seperation" that really adds to the song. That's another thing... Anacrusis doesn't go overboard and saturate their music with too much of that orchestral work. They find a great balance that really compliments both of the aspects at work here. The classical elements really lend a sense of grandeur to the song "Grateful." The band really deserve applause for pulling this off so well.

Stand-out non-symphonic tracks include the amazing "Sound the Alarm," which is one of the best songs in the band's cannon, "Sense of Will," and the catchy "Release." You can download the entire album from Anacrusis' website, so what are you waiting for?!?!

Report this review (#74881)
Posted Thursday, April 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Breaking up the brotherhood

Anacrusis released their fourth and final album in 1993, just 5 years after their debut. "Screams and whispers" contains predominantly new material written for the album, with the odd track left over and developed from "Manic impressions" included. The band themselves feel that this is their most sophisticated release, even including keyboards on a few tracks to create a more orchestral feel.

The cracks which would lead to the demise of Anacrusis began to surface during recording of this album. This difficulties were not really related to the music at all though, but to the band's lack of commercial success. As a result, while drummer Chad Smith was heavily involved in the development of the songs for the album, he does not actually play on it at all, his drum stool being taken over by Paul Miles. While things went well with Miles initially, he never moved on from being the new boy, causing further unrest within the band.

Right from the opening "Sound the alarm", it is clear that the sound and style of the band has indeed been refined. The rough vocals are still there, together with the dominant guitar work, but the atmosphere is often more mainstream than on previous albums, with a greater focus on melody.

The song "Release" appears twice on the album, in original and remix forms, reflecting its potential for single release. It is primarily the melodic, chiming guitar riff which distinguishes the song, the vocals (on the verses at least) being relatively understated. Grateful mixes the heavy riffing on which the band base their sound with quasi-symphonic dramatics. On the other hand, some tracks, such as "Division" and "Tools of separation" suggest that the band has made virtually no progress at all since their first album, apart from in terms of the recording quality. Such songs will appeal to those who seek only the thrash element of Thrash metal, but for me they are easily forgotten.

Many of the lyrics on the album appear to indicate that the band members knew this was potentially their last album together, indeed the final verse of the final song Brotherhood? seems to sum things up well: "We're weaned on empathy, To satisfy our doubt While attempts at unity have scattered us about Should we invent a common bond through means misunderstood? Or are we simply widening the gaps? Should we force a brotherhood?"

"Brotherhood" is quite different to the rest of the album, and indeed to what has gone before. An acoustic intro quickly gives way to something more powerful, but the symphonic keyboards and complex arrangement add up to something much more substantial, and indeed satisfying.

In all, an album which is not as advanced from its predecessors as the band had clearly wished for. That said, there are distinct signs here that Anacrusis could have gone on to find a unique identity while developing their adopted style into something more commercially successful.

Report this review (#173897)
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Screams and Whispers is the fourth full-length studio album from American progressive metal act Anacrusis. It´s safe to say that I have not been impressed with any of the previous efforts from the band even though their third album Manic Impressions (1991) did make a promise of better things to come. Screams and Whispers is finally an album from the band that I can appreciate. There´s been a lineup change since Manic Impressions (1991) as drummer Chad Smith has left to be replaced by Paul Miles.

The music is thrashy metal/ alternative rock with some progressive elements like occasional symphonic keyboard parts ( very few though). The vocals are both harsh ( not growls) and clean. The music is mostly mid-paced and the faster thrash metal riffing which dominated their previous albums are now almost gone. There are a few times during the albums 62:05 minute long playing time when Anacrusis speed the music up but it´s not very often.

The musicianship is tight and professional and even vocalist Kenn Nardi who I have been complaining about in my reviews of the first three albums now sounds confident enough to deserve his place behind the microphone.

Singer/ Guitarist Kenn Nardi acts as producer on the album and he has made a powerful and very clean metal sound. I really enjoy this production.

If you like albums like Coroner - Grin (1993), Alchemist - Austral Alien (2003), Killing Joke´s early nineties albums ( Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions (1990), Pandemonium (1994) and Democracy (1996)) and Morgoth - Feel Sorry for the Fanatic (1996), there´s a chance that you´ll find Screams and Whispers exciting. Many of the elements that those bands have in their music can also be heard on Screams and Whispers. Screams and Whispers is ( for now) the final album from Anacrusis and you can chose to view the album in two ways. Maybe this was the first promising release from a band that had yet to unleash their full potential or maybe this was their best shot and it was for the best that they called it quits when they did. I´m afraid it was the latter and I for one do not mourn the loss of a potentionally excellent future album from the band. Screams and Whispers is a good album though and deserves a 3 star rating. I´m happy for Anacrusis that they at least released one respectable album in their career.

Report this review (#201958)
Posted Saturday, February 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Upon its arrival on my favourite radio program in 1993, Screams and Whispers made quite an impression. Most of the songs are very convincing and best of all, it's free. You can download it at quick speeds from their home site for nothing. Chances are you might also find it cheap second-hand. This eclectic gang of thrashers didn't find themselves an audience in the speed metal dominated scene of their times, which is a bit of a shame.

Anacrusis plays a blend of industrial metal, progressive metal and thrash with some gothic overtones. A mix of Ministry, Metallica, Voivod and Killing Joke if you want to put band names on it. The vocals are mainly hoarse bellows similar to the great Jazz Coleman on Killing Joke's 90's albums, for some reason Kenn Nardi also does occasional extreme raspy screeches. Due to the Jazz Coleman vocals, the steady pace of the music and some psychedelic elements, they also remind me a lot of the more recent band Alchemist, one of my favourite recent metal flavours. Recommended songs to check out are the 3 first standout tracks. Also the weird Division is interesting. The band also sits close to Prong here. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#259861)
Posted Friday, January 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Matured Anacrusis.

After three crossover hard core/thrash metal albums, Anacrusis settled down on their final album and went for respectability and sophistication.

When a pretty original sounding band seeks mainstream respectability, they normally forfeit their reason for being and their own sound. This album is no exception from this rule. I have never rated Anacrusis at all, but this new matured version of the band is pretty dull. Their mix of AOR, avant-garde and hard core sounds neutured and forced upon them. There is little originality around and even the avant garde stuff here sounds lame. The songs are decent enough and this album is by no means a turkey. Neither is it a good album and I ends this session on a two stars verdict.

2 stars

Report this review (#379179)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Manic Impressions is a thoroughly original progressive thrash metal album. Although the thrash genre was in dire straits in the early 90s, only half of the problems were caused by a changing musical landscape, rather than merely a lack of ideas. Bands like HEATHEN, OVERKILL DARK ANGEL and SEPULTURA were churning out their best and most progressive releases at that point of time, as was the vastly underrated ANACRUSIS.

Although the album, as much as its successor SCREAMS AND WHISPERS somewhat smacks of the fatalistic negativity that was dominant in the 90s (remember the grunge phenomenon), and musically originates from thrash metal, it's closest relatives can be found among the progressive death metal like ATHEIST, DEATH, and perhaps even more strikingly the German DARK MILLENNIUM. Also the hard-to-pinpoint VOIVOD and CORONER may be seen as frames of reference.

Still, comparisons belie the fact that ANACRUSIS really struck new ground. Manic Impressions is a combination that is as unlikely as it is successful of melodicity and harsness. Cold, crisp riffing is juxtaposed to the sometimes aching, depressive, mournful, angry or contemplativ vocal melodies of Kenn Nardi, who steals the show here.

The mix is as cold as ice, and I am not certain whether this takes away of the emotional content of the material. or adds to the feeling of alienation that pervades it. You decide! By all means, this album is a killer, and sadly was misunderstood by a lot of people who unsuccessfully tried to pigeon-hole this band.

Report this review (#1231907)
Posted Sunday, August 3, 2014 | Review Permalink

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