Despite its origins, black metal continues to be a subgenre that pushes boundaries with the sound in new ways. It was originally intended to sound inherently evil to blaspheme against organized religion and spit on society writ large. The places its gone since then leave that far behind, exploring new sonic realms of all kinds. New York’s Anicon takes that idea of newness and injects it into their new album, Entropy Mantra.
Anicon is known for their atmospheric take on traditional black metal. It’s not quite Wolves in the Throne Room or Harakiri for the Sky, but it’s not exactly Mayhem either. It sits in a very interesting spot in between the two. If you took the image of the steps of man evolving from ape into homo sapiens but for black metal, Anicon would be sitting square in the middle. They can be spacey and droning while also having bombastic erratic drums and heavy dissonant riffing.
And as long as we’re discussing the drums, we have to talk about Lev Weinstein. The drummer from Krallice is involved in so many different projects, and Anicon is one of them. It makes so much sense that there’s a Krallice connection here since Anicon will dip their toes in that experimental arena. There’s no way that a band can experiment with the genre as much as Krallice does, but you can still hear. There’s definitely some playing with dissonance and trying new things.
Not to denigrate the record at all, but a lot of this record is still based in a traditional sound for black metal. Lots and lots and lots of blast beats combined with super crunchy guitars and tremolo picking means you’re not reinventing the wheel here. Add on top of that the gravely growled lyrics, and you’ve got yourself a very fine black metal record. However, what should really grab your attention is Alexander DeMaria’s bass. Black metal is not known for their bass players, but Anicon clearly realizes that having that low end is still important. While it isn’t prominently displayed as a main melodic instrument, it’s definitely brought out of the mix much more than one would expect.
All of the aspects come together to form a completely engaging album. Anicon dropped “Drowned in the Mirage” to introduce the album to the public, and it’s a great example of their sound on this record. You hear it in everything they do. First, the atmospheric sample that introduces the song draws you in. After the 40 second intro, you’re immediately hit with everything the band can throw at you. Crunchy tremolo picked guitars and pummeling blast beats ride the wave created by the driving bass. The melody riff is very dynamic and ends on an interesting note, drawing you in more for a very unique melody. The riff slowly changes in very subtle ways and adds a harmony layer on top. “Drowned in the Mirage” shows off their unique songwriting skills. It’s very progressive. Every song is made up of multiple differing parts that ultimately form very unique songs. This sort of writing isn’t isolated to this one track. Every song on it is made in this way and makes this album very special.
If you’re looking for some black metal that’s spacey but not too atmo-black, Anicon’s Entropy Mantra is the perfect record for you. It has a healthy mix of subgenres that make it a very original listen. It’s well worth your time and you won’t regret it.