Anicon – “In Shadow And Amber”

Anicon titled their debut full-length Exegeses? Huh. That’ll get the brain gears turning. Because, well, the NYC black metal quartet didn’t seem to be aiming for exegesis on their previous EPs, nor their split with Belus. In fact, drummer Lev Weinstein (also of Krallice, Bloody Panda, Geryon, many others) had this to say to CVLT Nation last year: “What makes bands healthy, what makes music engaging is not necessarily having some sort of ethos in mind. Itís about playing music.”

And Anicon, in opposition to others proselytizing their untangling of life’s WTFs, played music first and foremost. Though it was always complex, that music was immediate, visceral; whatever other over-labored music critic thesaurus word you want to wedge in there denoting an antonym of pedantry. So, Exegeses? Yeah? Then you see the fire raging on the album’s striking cover and you’re like, Ah, maybe that’s it. The catalyst, the result, probably other things. Maybe. To pull another word from the thesaurus: multitudes.

“In Shadow And Amber” is the first stream from Exegeses (shared by Invisible Oranges). It’s built around killer black metal riffs. These riffs, as killer black metal riffs often do, sound like cold winds rushing down mountains. Definitely cool, but there’s more there. Nolan Voss and Owen Rundquist (Trenchgrinder) flavor these riffs with wonderful bends and slides, giving character to a timbre that grabs at what people are searching for in this genre, whether the music or searcher is old or new. It’s, uh, a feeling. It’s just, uh, hard to explain what that is.

Rundquist gets that, though. From the same CVLT Nation interview: “For me personally, playing music is about tapping into something that is outside the realm of words and images. It’s a way of communicating the abstract.”

On a note by note level, “Amber” is labyrinthine, abstract to the max. Voss and Rundquist’s twisting riffs are one thing, but check out how Alexander DeMaria’s bass lines fulfill expectations as often as subverting them. Weinstein’s drumming, too, seems like it’s attacking from all angles. At the microscopic level, “Amber” is inextricable knots all the way down.

But when you pull back, “Amber” isn’t complicated at all, is it? The riffs stick in your head like simple hooks. The more becomes a digestible less, though both weigh the same. In a way, it’s like Rundquist’s vocal philosophy, as explained to Invisible Oranges, is seeping into Anicon’s other areas. “Often times the vocalist is kind of the first point of entry for the listener when you’re dealing with harder music so it’s important for the vocals to convey what the rest of the music is getting at.” The growls — a huskier version of those on Dissection’s The Somberlain — definitely do, but now the playing does, too. The players’ fervor, their fury; you can hear it in each member’s performance. Every ounce of “Amber” conveys what the rest is getting at. And true, bits of it are abstract, complex, insert your word here. The music, the whole, that feeling though, interprets it better than words or images.

Exegeses is out 7/7 via Gilead Media and Avantgarde Music.