Black Anvil – “As Was” (Relapse Records)
Until I heard of Black Anvil, I never realized New York City had any black metal bands! Formed in 2007, the band have already released a respectable 3 prior albums and are no spring chickens, having cut their teeth musically in hardcore punk band Kill Your Idols, as well as in life on the mean streets of Queens! Probably the ideal spawning ground for the moribund, hate filled style of black metal one might say – and yet Black Anvil take their roots from Black Sabbath and Judas Priest and offer more, much more in fact than your garden variety evil doer. While certainly possessing the rudimentary sounds of blackness in harsh vocals, raw guitars and blastbeat capability, there’s a whole lot more going on in the 8 tracks here – with most of them clocking in over the 6 minute mark. Call it the NYC effect, call it touring with Watain and Behemoth, call it good coffee, but Black Anvil also manage to stylishly incorporate pure rock, massive amounts of tasteful melody both positive and dark, and an acoustic ambience to create huge soundscapes of atmospheric artistry. Add in spiritual harmonies but equally uplifting ethereal passages and the complexities of ‘May Her Wrath Be Just’, ‘As An Elder Learned Anew’ and ‘The Way Of All Flesh’ soon go well beyond the music into something far more thought provoking, not to mention emotionally consuming. Even the band themselves seemed sucked into their own creative vortex, resonating as a singular driving force, with little regard for the individual rising above the diverse musical genius here. Certainly deep, and in keeping in line with all things NYC, also very cutting edge indeed.