One thing I love about this genre is that it has some of the most visually attractive album covers. Some of my personal favorites include The Faceless’ Planetary Duality, Decrepit Birth’s Polarity, Spawn of Possession’s Incurso, Fleshgod Apocalypse’s Oracles, and The Vile Conception by Hour of Penance. So obviously, the thing about Anno Universum that initially caught my eye was the vibrant album cover (and the extremely complex logo). But just like they say: looks can be deceiving. Unfortunately this is one of those cases where that statement is true…in a sense.
The intro track kind of reminds me of the first song on Symphonies of Sickness by Carcass. The thing that makes me think of that is the disgusting sounds made by mixing the sounds of deep inhaled gutturals and high-pitched pig squeals (although they sound exhaled…regardless, it still has the same basic sound). That was something that made me cringe because I’m not really a fan of that sound (probably because I don’t hear it a lot). Then (without any obvious notice) the music perfectly blends into the first full song, which is much more what I was looking for. Here’s the interesting thing about Anno Universum; there are so many faults, but there are so many strengths as well! Usually, mediocre albums are harder for me to review because there isn’t really anything about them that sticks out to me as being really good or bad (which is why they’re mediocre). But Anno Universum’s faults are too big to let the pros cover them up, but the pros aren’t strong enough to completely cover up the faults. So that leaves you with an album that has a perfectly balanced scale of pros and cons.
The thing that bothers me the most about Anno Universum is that it lacks the interest that keeps me engaged. I get distracted easily and the album seems to be over in 10 seconds. Instead, I would like it to grab my attention and keep me engaged and interested. That’s pretty much a fancy and more detailed way of saying that the songs don’t really differ from each other. So when there are songs that generally sound alike to the point that it all sounds like one song, you get a listener that gets bored quickly and moves right back to listening to the newish Hate Eternal record. The sound production is professional, but there are still a lot of changes that I would make. The first one is that the guitars sound too monotonous and mushy, as opposed to being very tight and staccato-ish. This is something that’s very important in technical metal because it makes the band sound even MORE technical and MUCH tighter. So this is what it sounds like when you take out that extra step in the production process. I also can’t even tell if they have a bassist or not (hopefully they do because that would be blasphemy!). Here we go! I just heard a bass guitar at the end of Obviated Geocentrism. So I’m glad we got that cleared up! But that was only when he was soloing, I can’t hear him anywhere else.
Their vocalist needs to go because he ruins the music…well…most of the time. He can’t pull off high-pitched exhales, his inhaled growls are good, but sound irritating when put on top of Arkhum’s music (he would sound a lot better in some other band, but with the way this album was produced, it’s stinky garbage). I also can’t seem to get used to the deep inhales being mixed with the black metal-style highs; it doesn’t sound good! Now I am understanding that there are some of you out there that either aren’t affected by or like these kinds of vocal tricks, but it’s just not my thing…at all.
But that aside, what’s good about these guys? The answer lies in the lead guitarist and the drummer. The drummer is unfortunately put more in the background. His kick drums are hard to hear, but if you listen closely, you can tell that he has got some fucking skill. He’s always on-time, I can’t hear any screw-ups, and his blast beats are non-traditional and bring most of my attention to him instead of the rest of the band. The other guy that impresses me is the lead guitarist (or whoever is pulling off all those slow, melodic solos). The guitar solos are beautiful and get my stamp of approval. But they aren’t anywhere NEAR being close to the best I’ve ever heard. The reason why they stick out to me so much is that the rest of the music is so boring, it makes the solos sound so much better. The last thing that I would like to talk about is the creative fusing that’s done throughout the album. They sort of do it the same way Fleshgod Apocalypse did in Oracles; the soft guitars and pianos are just at the beginning or ends of the songs instead of weaved in the entire album. Some examples are the piano outro at the end of Bloodgutter Encircling, the really cool acoustic guitar solo in Grief Urchin, and the surprise that I will let you find out for yourself in Nilpulse. I would give this album 10/20.