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HITCHHIKING TO BYZANTIUM

Anubis

Neo-Prog


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Anubis Hitchhiking To Byzantium album cover
3.95 | 188 ratings | 6 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fadeout (2:40)
2. A King With No Crown (4:37)
3. Dead Trees (6:38)
4. Hitchhiking To Byzantium (9:44)
5. Blood Is Thicker Than Common Sense (9:27)
6. Tightening Of The Screws (6:51)
7. Partitionists (7:43)
8. Crimson Stained Romance (6:58)
9. A Room With A View (15:51)
10. Silent Wandering Ghosts (7:13)

Total time 77:42

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert James Moulding / lead vocals, bass, percussion, guitar, additional keyboards, sound effects
- David Eaton / keyboards, guitars, backing vocals, sound effects
- Douglas Skene / electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals
- Dean Bennison / electric & accoustic guitars, steel guitar, backing vocals
- Steven Eaton / drums, percussion, backing vocals

With:
- Martin Cook / tenor saxophone & trumpet (5), flute (7, 9)
- Katrina Shaw / vocals (4, 8)
- Sarah Schols / vocals (4, 8)
- Becky Bennison / vocals (4, 8)

Releases information

CD Bird's Robe Records - ‎BRR043 (2014, Australia)

FLAC lossles digital download (www.bandcamp.com)

Thanks to MoonshineO for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Hitchhiking To ByzantiumHitchhiking To Byzantium
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ANUBIS Hitchhiking To Byzantium ratings distribution


3.95
(188 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
25%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
43%
Good, but non-essential (28%)
28%
Collectors/fans only (2%)
2%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

ANUBIS Hitchhiking To Byzantium reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I really enjoyed the previous two Anubis albums, and whilst I respect them for evolving their sound rather than treading water I found this latest effort, Hitchhiking to Byzantium, doesn't quite work for me. It naturally feels slightly less cohesive than its predecessors, because unlike them it isn't a concept album, but it goes further than that - Robert James Moulding's lead vocals bug me here in a way which somehow they didn't on the previous albums, and their musical influences have shifted from the likes of Muse and IQ to a blend which reminds me more of Keane and Pink Floyd (or rather, the castrated modern approximations of Pink Floyd lots of bands try to offer up). Decently performed and some will probably love this, but it isn't quite for me.
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Anubis shocked the progressive community with the acclaim generated by their previous album, the colourful 'A Tower of Silence". Owner of a dazzling cover and artwork as well as a series of riveting prog classics such as "Holly Innocent", "Archway of Tears" , "Passing Bell" , "All That Is" and "As I Wait for my World", one had to be very very optimistic for a follow-up to one of 2011's best albums . Well, the Aussies have decided to keep their talented crew intact, the only change is Robert James Moulding handling the bass guitar with rather pronounced results. With a bar set so high, there would be a natural tendency to compare and then judge accordingly. I generally prefer to stay away from such simple reasoning, as each work is inherently a separate entity, like going to see paintings by your fave Breughel or Monet, and being happy to imbibe yourself with the brush strokes.

Anubis have a style that is uncontroversial, a densely symphonic melange of symphonic keyboards , dual guitars that fill out the sound, a booming bass guitar that is up-front and center and a muscular drum kit that is unafraid to bash. But it's the vocal style of lead lung Moulding that really sets the band apart from its peers, a voice that has its own uniqueness, a hint of hysteria and a slight nasal twang that I find appealing but may grate on some more sensitive nerves.

Upon first glance, it pretty much par for the course, "Fadeout" humorously fading in as an intro, giving "A King With No Crown" its perfect platform and as such, is not far removed from the style espoused on "A Tower of Silence", a hard-edged, nervous and slightly psychotic vocal delivery, with crunchy guitars rambling nastily and the sudden synths pulverizing the airwaves, an aggressive opener that gets the blood flowing right from the start. Moulding howls wide and loud, very convincing but David Eaton's Moog solo is definitely a feature.

"Dead Trees" has a forlorn melancholia that searches out contrasts from serene to passionate, Moulding doing sweet stuff with his voice before exploding the next, he does remind me of Sylvan's Marco Gluhmann (one of the finer voices in prog) , a couple of sizzling guitar solos from both Douglas Skene and Dean Bennison , with Moulding holding down the bass duties. Typical Anubis tune, lush and delightful.

The nearly 10 minute title track wastes no time in presenting the guitar-led melody , a sleepy vocal emerges from deep in the valley, luxuriant washes of ballad-like contemplation, twinkling piano and one-two drumming, nothing complex or overtly aggressive. A dreamy voyage sprinkled with searing guitar themes, perhaps the calm before the proverbial storm, this is like a soothing balm in the pharmacy cabinet. Moulding mumbles like in a soporific cocoon, very convincing indeed.

Bang! Things get almost punky on the tempestuous "Blood is thicker Than Common Sense", a rocking piece that stutters, quakes, explodes and sizzles , Moulding doing a yeoman job with dueling vocals , introducing slight tonal variations to make the illusion complete. David Eaton shuttles a neat organ along, colliding with both guitar slashes in expert unison. Drummer Steve Eaton really shines brightly on the kit.

"Tightening of the Screws" is gentler and more pastoral in essence, yet still imbibed in a great deal of inner conflict , a passionately delivered vocal exalts within the profound symphonics, seared by a fiery guitar solo from Douglas, scorching the celestial skies as Dean scours the riffs below, tossing in some mandolin to boot. This is perhaps my favorite track here, a lovely ride.

The oddly titled "Partitionists" is slightly more nervous, lots of slashing guitars and snarly tone in the vocals, somehow this one does not connect with me. Maybe a need a few more spins but it's just pleasant. On the other hand, Douglas does a wicked axe solo, full of trembling exaltation.

The hulking presence of Pink Floyd stands over the otherwise luscious "Crimson Stained Romance", a clear tribute to the masters of space and time, celestial rolling harmonium waves surmounted by slippery guitar overlays, monotone drum and a sleepy voice that is bathing in psychedelia. The church organ comes bellowing into the congregation only to add some gloom and doom to the cosmic proceedings. Both fret board solos are awe- inspiring explorations as the mood gets more excited and angry.

Multiple radio channels get the proverbial second long chance before a piano and a drugged-up voice introduce the epic 16 minute monster and album highpoint "A Room with a View" (perhaps based on a romantic 1908 novel by EM Forster and a 1985 movie adaptation). Obviously lots of shifts, mood changes and changing scenarios but major kudos to drummer Steve Eaton for some amazing rhythmic mania throughout this sizzler. Moulding's voice is modulated higher, as if a cast member of some theatrical play, lots of harmony vocal help from all the other musicians. This is some of his best singing on the record, very demanding and highly expressive in the 'sweeter' moments. Bluesy guitar rips gracefully enhance the melody, painting a clearer musical picture, adding more crystalline soloing as the song progresses forward. Piano and rolling bass take briefly over, as the rustling flute suddenly shuttles this into almost Jethro Tull environments, the Sylvan singer reminder once again quite apparent. The finale gets all frizzled up with some spiraling guitar exercises, a section that will thrill all axe fans, as both Skene and Bennison unleash some magical licks.

"Silent Wandering Ghosts" terminates this fine album, in reverential melancholia, a sad vocal that has strong Steve Wilson-like despondence, roaming bass and insistent piano to keep things simple and in perspective. A truly great vocal line that may shift one's appreciation of Anubis' ultimate prog value, though Robert has a voice that is not unanimous in acceptance. The restraint shown by the shimmering guitar is to be commended, a sizzling fire that glows deep into the night, slowly fading into the mist.

In all fairness, Hitchhiking to Byzantium is an entirely worthy follow-up to admittedly a top- notch jewel of a neo-prog classic, so we will let bygones be bygones and suggest this to all of those who really loved "A Tower of Silence" and just enjoy the ride. It will probably take many more spins to really delve deeper into it inherent pleasures. I am somewhat surprised at the paucity of revues for this much-awaited release.

4 Free rides to Istanbul

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The Australian neo-prog band ANUBIS (a quick search will yield about 13 bands of the same name) continued their trend of taking three years in between albums which is exactly what they did on their third album HITCHHIKING TO BYZANTIUM (2014) after their critically acclaimed "A Tower Of Silence" (2011) and debut "230503" (2009). Despite occupying a small niche within the neo-prog sub- genre within the world progressive rock, this lesser known band from Down Under has made quite a name for themselves in select small circles if not yet reaching the worldwide household name status of bands such as Marillion, IQ or Arena.

Once again the same cast members which includes the five main musicians and a few guest vocalists and a wind player find a way to weave a conceptual theme into a single album clocking in well over an hour's length playing time. While the first two albums took the same approach with an overarching concept carrying the lyrics and music along for the ride, HITCHHIKING TO BYZANTIUM treads new ground in many ways without sacrificing the same catchy grooves augmented by acoustic dreamy passages, synth-heavy atmospheres and passionately delivered vocal narrations.

Abandoning the storyline concept, HITCHHIKING TO BYZANTIUM (an ancient Greek colony that later became Constantinople and even later Istanbul) takes the approach where each band member contributed lyrics based on personal concepts of their life's journey and conjures up all the emotional maelstroms and occasional successes that cover the entire human experience spectrum, thus the dominate role of lead vocalist Robert James Moulding and keyboardist David Eaton contributing as the main creators of content has been replaced by a more democratic show-and-tell session in musical format.

Like most albums tucked away in the sub-genre, ANUBIS relies heavily on the lyrical content which dictates the musical direction which takes on various styles ranging from Pink Floyd inspired space rock to heavy King Crimson-esque amplified rock guitar as well as the by now well tested neo-prog stomping grounds that include thick layers of synthesized atmospheric backdrops that allow the musical edifices to shapeshift from one emotional phase to another. While not as all encompassing as the first two concept albums, neither does the lack of unity detract substantially from an overall musical feel across the album's running time which includes several lengthy pieces with the longest emerging with the near sixteen minute "A Room With A View."

While upon first listen, it may seem that ANUBIS has fallen into the business-as-usual rut that many bands do with the expected neo-prog attributes following suit, but a more attentive listen will yield more surprises than just a quickie one-off listening session. Guitarist Douglas Skene admits to forcing himself to explore new musical arenas and therefore songs are written in a variety of different keys and playing styles in order to bring out new dimensions in Moulding's vocals which when compared to first two albums does ring true with tracks like "Tightening The Screws" sounding nothing like the band's previous efforts. In fact Moulding's fragile vocal approach sounds somewhat like the Norwegian band Leprous in their most tender and subdued moments.

With the stunning achievement of the first two album's ANUBIS clearly ran the risk of running away from their established band sound too far, too fast but while i'm the first to admit that HITCHHIKING TO BYZANTIUM does not usurp the one / two punch of the duo masterpiece set that preceded or even live up to them, neither does it find the band teetering off into irrelevancy. HITCHHIKING achieves exactly what any good neo-prog album of the 21st century should, namely long well thought out composition that connect lyrical content with catchy pop oriented hooks stretched out into progressive complexities

Latest members reviews

5 stars I have loved Anubis' second album 'A Tower of Silence' and was initially a little disappointed that Hitchhiking to Byzantium did not give me a follow up of that album, but a new one with a different feel. Gone was the oppressive haunted houses and ghostly apparations and were replaced by songs a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1767193) | Posted by AlexVigne | Saturday, July 29, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Expectation was high for H2B as Tower of Silence has been on repeat a lot since I got it. I heard it was coming through an online EPK which seemed to bode well, it all sounded damn fine. However, following a classic is never easy and the pressure was alluded to by even the musicians themselves ... (read more)

Report this review (#1188365) | Posted by RedKnot | Sunday, June 8, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album proves that Anubis' previous masterpiece was no accident. H2B is more original, has more influences and goes above and beyond AToS in a lot of ways. It has all the grandeur of the previous release but throws in some more modern, and retro, influences to create a diverse style, there's a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1180738) | Posted by praj912 | Thursday, May 29, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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