What happens when you gather 5 musicians from different backgrounds? 9 times out of 10, it’s something quite special. Featuring members from the likes of Wolves In The Throne Room, Tortoise, Bloodyminded (to name but a few), Anatomy Of Habit have squeezed a 40 minute time frame in to just 2 songs for their Relapse debut. I get the feeling that this post-everything supergroup will teeter on the edge of sanity, as well as being super slow and dark. Here’s hoping.
Setting an eerie, uncomfortable mood right from the get go, the first track, ‘Recede & Radiate’ quickly makes a point that this album isn’t one to go in with a casual mindset. The initial monotone ramblings of singer, Marc Solotoroff, make you feel really uneasy, like a creepy guy on the bus that never breaks eye contact, we’ve all been there, it’s not nice. I don’t know whether this was intentional, but if it was, well played sir.
As well as being pretty uncomfortable, it’s also quite serene, until it all kicks off shall we say. Imagine this, you’re sailing on what you think is a peaceful lake, then you notice the sky grow black, creating quite an unsettling atmosphere. Then out of nowhere, huge tentacles emerge from the murky deep and drag you to your watery demise, as well as everyone on board, oh the humanity!! Solotofoff becomes the voice of said sea swine, as his voice grows more guttural and monstrous, quite the contrast it must be said.
As the air grows a hundred times heavier, the slow, yet mechanical, percussion tandem of John McEntire and Theo Katsaounis make you believe that the aforementioned killer of the deep is powered by gears and steam, rather than blood and sinew. His clanging and crashing is like an iron foundry at the height of the industrial evolution, especially on ‘Then Window’, which explores the insides of a completely different monster entirely.
One thing which frustrates me about this album a bit though, especially on the first track, is the fact that the music is obviously going somewhere, but it keeps taking you back to square one without passing go. The progression doesn’t quite deliver to its full potential in parts, but with that being said, when it works, it works, big time. A word of caution, be prepared to hear the words “Ciphers and Axioms” on repeat as you venture into track two, whether that’s good or bad, is for you to find out.
Please note that this is an album not to be taken lightly, as it will require your attention for the whole duration. It’s not an easy listen, but there are some real nuggets of brilliance peppered over this gloomy steak Anatomy Of Habit have cooked up. If you like being reminded of your impending doom, or just never smile, then I highly recommend this.