Album Review: Anachronism – Meanders

Album Review: Anachronism - Meanders
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Technical death metal can be a predominantly US-heavy style to find, it’s interesting therefore to discover this record, Meanders, the third full length album to be released by a Swiss band for a change: Anachronism. Formed in 2009 out from Vaud, Anachronism released their first Demo a year later but jumped straight into their first full length release in 2012 with Senseless. Slowly but surely, Anachronism released more material: A 2015 EP, Reflecting The Inside; A 2017 Demo; a second full length album, Orogeny, 2018. Further Demos came about by 2021 but this 2023 album release marks the widest gap Anachronism have yet had between albums. I imagine prior fans are wild for this to drop, which it shall by late January. My first experience of Anachronism, I wondered what lay in store.

It’s interesting how Anachronism utilise a pretty rudimentary death metal sound for what is an intrinsically technical approach to songwriting. It doesn’t take long for our eyes to open up to what kind of sound the band are looking to deliver unto us. The band’s onslaught may possess a chunky and compact sound which certainly helps them propagate a hard hitting aesthetic, yet their riffs and general songwriting feels fully realised when this compact density drops away a touch and reveals the band’s more ethereal and warped signature mark. The overall approach to metal for Anachronism therefore is to unveil an immediately solid attack before slowly stripping its own layers, showing the true, strange qualities that actually lie within. Curiously, the band manage to craft a technical approach to writing songs without their instrumentation being wholly technical to the listen. It’s a very unusual yet welcome change to hear.

I did appreciate however the band’s choice to render the bass with just as much importance to the delivery of tracks herein, as they have for other conventional riffs, drums and vocal performances. That’s not to say the bass at times tends to dominate or overpower other forms of instrumentation, it feels to have been mixed in at just the right spot for it to stand alongside the guitar work as an equally important factor in the band’s performance. Now this is all the more essential, seeing how Anachronism don’t always have the throttle going at high gear. When we get segments where the riff solidity drops away, the bass lines are still playing away so even as the band undergo their more avant-grade technicality, we’ve still got a juicy insertion of bass maintaining the momentum the band’s aggressive performance created firsthand.

Album Review: Anachronism - Meanders

If there is anything overtly technical regarding the band’s performance that does require notation, it’s the drumming. The band’s assault may not be too in depth with technical playing (which I like, demonstrating Anachronism don’t want their record inundated with flashy playing), but the drums alone are arguably the most obviously technical element the band have going for them. Listening to the drumming patterns as they move and transform and evolve throughout any respective track’s duration, it’s clear, early on in the record even, that the band didn’t want this to be a blast beat marathon nor do they even try that approach owing to how they’ve structured their drumming. A blast beat will happen but soon overtaken by intermittent Tom-toms and then overtaken by a more sporadic pattern that uses the full kit available to their drummer. It’s a wildly inventive performance that’s sees us fully at its mercy, keeping us invested in the band and especially as their sound drops away to a something raw and stripped back.

We touched upon earlier how the band’s tone is pretty dense which results in a guitar performance not too vastly removed from a straight up death metal tone, yet there are numerous occasions throughout Meanders where the band’s guitar sound does morph into something more ethereal, more broken up etc. Its fascinating frankly, how the band are able to alter the general tone of their performance through guitar tone alone. You may be receiving a solid guitar attack while a secondary guitar is producing a raspy, scratching riff in the background; the riffs may then sport a perturbed tone that enables their technical side to shine a little brighter. All in all, Anachronism’s guitar work is capable of subtly changing its sound ever so slightly this way and that pending on what kind of sound the band need. It lends the band’s sound a far more natural aesthetic, allowing us to delve a little deeper into their performance because we know there’s very little flashy or superficial happening throughout our time spent with them.

In conclusion, Anachronism is a very interesting work of technical death metal that manages to straddle a very niche line between solid death metal and the more technical variant without delving too far into one or the other. I thoroughly enjoyed the band’s approach to songwriting, being one directed towards establishing a technical sound through structure, evolving songwriting and meticulously placed riffs and time signatures throughout. There is absolutely nothing flashy or attention-seeking going on with Anachronism’s sound; any attention that is given to their performance is firmly earned and maintains our attention by being this weird hybrid of technical and avant-garde elements. It’s a very grounded record in that respect, it doesn’t try and fly off the wall to leave us behind at any point, we’re always alongside it and understand totally where we are going. A most curious record to be sure and one that is certain to have a good many hooked.

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