With their channels flooding-forth unimpeded Lausanne, Switzerland-based technical death metal quartet Anachronism return for a third full-length album eager to explore every meaningful tangent their creative flow state would allow. ‘Meanders‘ is not only a broadened spectrum of their thusly gathered technical/progressive death metal emissions but a loud signal that their ambitions include wrenching free of the mold, building upon the topographic landscapes they’ve been hammering away at rather than deepening the erosion of any one particular rut. Though their craft still centers around dissonant, brutal, and progressivity warped death metal this third album lands as a strong leap beyond the successes of their second, making for a record which speaks to a watery set of possibilities, a surge toward something even more their own.

Anachronism formed as a quartet back in 2009 with guitarist/vocalist Lisa Voisard and drummer Florent Duployer (Cenotaph, session for Algebra) featuring as the longest persisting members from then ’til now. Although the band would self-release a demo back in 2010 and an album (‘Senseless‘, 2012) a couple of years later these are not currently available. This is usually due to a disagreement over royalties, credit or maybe the album just wasn’t very good, but in any case the gap in provenance will have to rest as a mild itch in the back of my brain for now. Two things are obvious enough as we step into their ‘Reflecting the Inside‘ (2015) mLP a few years later: Duployer is a fantastic drummer, his work ensures the first impression is that of a solid classic tech/brutal death metal influenced bouncer of a record. You can feel that post-‘Souls to Deny‘ and Malignity conscious era of brutality all over it while the guitar work searches for a point of abstraction to muscle into. Deeper shades of post-‘ObscuraGorguts and Ulcerate begin to infiltrate not only their sound but the very structural heft of their songcraft as their second full-length (‘Orogeny‘, 2018) arrives and that’ll be the one to impress most modern tech-death fans up front. More importantly it serves as the foundation for where Anachronism are today, or, the point of view from where they’d envision the horizon that is ‘Meanders‘.

When observing the greater ocean of technical death metal acts it only becomes easier (from the listeners perspective) to begin to recognize the linear throughways of techniques which are selectively adapted by each successive generation of guitarist and in this sense Voisard‘s work has always understood the need for dynamism, pieces colored by contrasting moods which will feel naturally effective to the average Ulcerate-attuned ear, myself included. Yet on ‘Meanders‘ we begin to see a deeper study of atmospheric lilt and surreal transfixion which most will associate with Artificial Brain these days. These are ugly generalizations to make within earshot of a musician, sure, but perhaps more helpful to a listener seeking a certain dissonant yet captivating moodiness which rings and writhes in constant motion. I’d posit that Anachronism has been written in a freer state of mind, less a puzzling-through technical ideation and more of an easy flow from point to point and I think this notion begins to develop most clearly as opener “Contrasts” and the title track kick off the record in an already pensive state, less a frustrated buzzing about and more a determined dance of knots as they twist and torse under the fusion-esque momentum of each piece. They are capped off by a previously demoed song, “Prism”, a first full breath of the core affect of ‘Meander‘ as dominated by shrugged-out and clawed chords as it is beauteous arpeggios and darting call-and-response runs.

The album opens feeling conversational in its phrasing but introspective nonetheless, reverberated off the walls for the sake of it being real to the confessor. “Source” finishes the conversation with some headier tones, a small feature of the bass guitar tone and its central groove while eerie guitar noise fills the greater space of the piece. Though I’d appreciated Side A as an intimate introduction to ‘Meanders‘ the real action and main interest on the full listen was generally reserved for Side B. When “Insula” begins to chime in the greater vernacular of the band doesn’t shift drastically but we do begin to awaken to the now differently aggro side of Anachronism, big bass slaps and rushes of blasts feel like some much needed energy after the painterly swipe n’ jangling froth of the first half of the record. “Mirage”, one of the more slick and chilled pieces on the album, finds at least a few stabbing points to break through the warming hum of it all yet we cannot fully escape the womb of ‘Meanders‘ entirely. Without the last minute of “Macrocosm” and the brilliant conclusive dramatism of “Dialogues” it’d all threatened to feel wholly introspective, meditative and washed of the furious battery one’d rightfully expect from the band.

While I cannot fully suggest that Anachronism have unveiled an entirely readable emotional palette here on ‘Meanders’ they have taken a considerable leap into a uniquely atmospheric, contemplative headspace which yet feels sensical in its direction beyond ‘Ordeals‘. The path here is nonetheless run-on, personal and spoken to oneself in an appreciably based sort of way as the listener is privy to those thoughts and feelings but may not fully understand them as a witness at face value. I don’t know how often I’d eavesdropped on someone talking to themselves in deeply introspective strands and thought “What a brilliant conversation.” yet in this case there is an intelligent design wrought here between the thinking hand and the feeling auteur which syncs up into a captivating, easily enjoyed experience which still manages to speak a technical/progressive death metal language fluently. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (79/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Unorthodox Emanations
RELEASE DATE:January 27th, 2023

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