1. Asherah’s Hourglass
2. The Awakening
3. The Grasp of Ruin
5. Descent Into Chaos
6. Black Malice Construct
7. Black Malice Alchemy
9. Heavy Lies the Crown
13. The Final Delirium
A debut album today does not have to scream originality or push the envelope of the genre that it fits closest to. To put out a truly unique debut in this day there needs to be a strong sense of “Where the hell did this come from?” after the first listen. Ænimus‘ debut Transcend Reality barely misses this mark, but not by much.
This group of gentlemen from San Francisco have crafted a pummeling, head banging slab of technical deathcore which wears its influences proudly on its chest. However, do not let the deathcore element of this band put you off straight away. Opening with ‘Asherah’s Hourglass’, an intro track which pulls off more than many deathcore bands do in a full spin, we get a taste of what is it to come. The clean tones which feature prominently throughout this album open the track with some elegant fretwork before the rhythm section get to introduce themselves. Vocals enter the mix briefly before we are pulled into the real business of the album. ‘The Awakening’ sways and stomps with prominent harmonies and leads under crashing drums and pained vocals, ‘Grasp of Ruin’ has a groove which reeks of Sumerian and a smooth transition into the first real breakdown of the album which just as easily bleeds into the next movement of the song.
Next we have the band’s ‘Masterpiece‘. It opens with an almost majestic, clean, sweeping riff before descending into the best track of Transcend Reality. This song is a perfect mix of the bands use of clean guitars, harmonies and groove. Moving focus away from the obvious technical prowess of the guitarists, from the start to the end of their debut full length, Ænimus’ rhythm section crash and rip through technically demanding passages. The double bass fills and cymbal kills in ‘Inertia‘ keep the song moving forward at a thundering pace while the bass can be heard grinding away underneath the mix of several guitar tracks, coming to prominence briefly in ‘Thrive‘ and the aforementioned head banger ‘Grasp of Ruin.’ Vocally and lyrically there is not much new here apart from a solid performance and some genuinely interesting subject matter, the lyrics to ‘Intertia‘ painting a picture of a rapid descent to Earth and the thoughts of the subject experiencing this fall.
It cannot be said this LP hits the mark on all fronts. ‘Black Malice Construct’ and the twenty second ‘Chimerism‘ bring nothing to the album other than filler and the middle section of the LP contains several songs which may be worth skipping in order to get to the far superior closing tracks. ‘Black Malice Alchemy’ shows nothing new that the band have not showcased already while the All Shall Perish inspired ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ (featuring Mr Hernan “Eddie” Hermida) plods along without holding much attention. The lead and clean guitars, though they may be the stand out points of several tracks, are sometimes too far forward in the mix. Ænimus’ demo versions of several songs also on this album are much more natural and lack the clean edges in the cymbal hits and leads which take away some of the “heavy” of these tracks.
Thankfully the album closes on a much more positive note with ‘Convictions‘ which uses a multi guitar attack to create an atmosphere of dread underneath a seriously beefy deathcore swagger, and the closer ‘The Final Delirium’ which has the most extravagant leads featured through the album and a mighty breakdown. The piano piece which closes the album is a final respite from what is definitely a step in the right direction for deathcore of all sub-genres.
Ænimus are well on their way to becoming a recognizable force in their genre, they just need to trim the fat and maybe step out of their comfort zone somewhat so that they can avoid the unnecessary dead weight which is found on Transcend Reality. An interesting quote at the end of ‘Convictions‘ stuck out to me as potential advice for the band to take heed of themselves, maybe to give themselves a shot of something new to really push them above the heads and shoulders of their peers.