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Anubis - Hitchhiking To Byzantium CD (album) cover

HITCHHIKING TO BYZANTIUM

Anubis

 

Neo-Prog

3.96 | 196 ratings

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praj912
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 bit of everything.

'Fadeout' begins the album in a relaxed dreamy neo-prog way before 'A King with no Crown' arrives with its jagged groove and vocal hooks. Lyrically it deals with the 'fake' talent show phenomenon and realises the reality that it's all a short-term fame. It's a bit aggressive, and the hooks in the chorus may not grab you instantly, but they will get you in the end. It's main feature is a dreamy moog solo as an interlude and this really takes this song to another level.

'Dead Trees' skips off, sounding not too unlike something 'The National' would produce until the chorus catches you. Dealing with the end of a relationship, it's a worthy next single, there's some nice atmospherics, first with the drum loop intro and then the guitar and keyboard harmonies in the chorus. We are then treated to an expressive guitar solo with a great bass-line and drums, before the song changes completely and becomes a slow atmospheric piece with a great bass-line and concludes with a trancelike guitar to fadeout.

The title track is less bombastic than I expected, it has a laid back Sunday afternoon feel to it, but rather than sailing by, it draws you in to its lush melodies. The last 3 minutes of the song build to a crescendo of guitar and keyboard harmonies. Quite magic. Listen.

'Blood is Thicker than Common Sense' picks up the pace with a quick fire vocal trade-off in the verse and staccato riffing and drumming before the chorus comes in. The vocal trade-offs continue throughout the song while the drums keep the tempo busy. There's a great rhythmic interlude in the middle with a nice guitar solo followed by a great Hammond solo. The ending sprawls out with a nice progressive guitar riff in some time signature I can't be bothered to figure out.

The opening acoustic chords of 'Tightening of the Screws' lead into one of the strongest 'songs' on the album, The vocals are gentle and melodic with a marching bass-line before the strong chorus drags you in. There's some nice guitar tinkering, some mandolin and some creative drumming that intersperse the verses and choruses. At the end we are treated to one of the best moments on the album, with the guitar solo unisoning with the keyboards. Again, just listen. 'Partitionists' begins ominously before a funky 70s guitar riff takes us through the verses and onto the chorus. Again the theme of 'false gods' and society's love affair with the dollar and fake ideals prevail. This song is one of my favourites, it grooves along before changing tempo and allowing a chance to cut a little bit loose with a tastefully blistering guitar solo. Magic. Another tempo change before leading to a smashing Led Zeppelin Presence era-like finish. I love Zep.

'Crimson Stained Romance' is certainly drawn from the darker parts of Pink Floyd (it was inevitable at some point), but it is quite wonderful due to the female backing choir, before a beautiful solo with so much space to breathe leads us to what I love best about Anubis. A change. Then the church organ kicks in followed by a sweeping guitar solo and a real high point of emotion with the return of some sublime backing vocals.

'A Room with a View' is ~15 minutes of bliss. Anubis have tried before and succeeded with Track 1 of their last album, but this track beats that for me. It starts with a slide guitar intro and goes through many changes over its 15 minutes but never loses its flow, lots of musical interludes throughout the vocal sections. It starts ominously with a pensive piano riff and some slide guitar before picking up the pace. The initial verses feature a gentle lead vocal line before bringing in the vocal harmonies, then there's a flute driven musical interlude before the pace picks up again with some nice vocal harmonies and a stellar closing out sequence that I cannot describe.

'Silent Wandering Ghosts' brings things together with the emotive coming together of the album's theme, again you need to listen to this, it builds perfectly before finishing with an excellently restrained guitar solo.

It would be remiss of me to not mention the cover artwork, which is again excellent. Artwork is very important to the visuality of the music on a disc, it provides tonal colours to enhance the music. The overt blue of the previous album gives way to a darker but more multi-coloured scene. Quite apt.

So overall, there's more going on on this release, lots of little treasures hidden in the mix, guitar tinkerings, atmospherics, keys, lots of tempo changes. I haven't covered half of it. Anubis use all their influences to create an dynamic listening experience. A worthy follow up to AToS; it sounds more original but retains the stylistic trademarks that make Anubis a band to rival their contemporaries and their influences.

praj912 | 5/5 |

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