After re-releasing their first two albums back in September, Metal Blade have now moved onto the remastered and repackaged third and fourth albums from St. Louis progressive thrash act Anacrusis.
Released in 1991, the band’s third album Manic Impressions (Metal Blade) helped continue the band’s swift, upwards career trajectory. Razor-sharp guitars with biting riffs combine with the vocals of frontman Kenn Nardi as he switches effortlessly between clean singing, snarls and high-pitched shrieks while John Emery‘s bass is played with smooth fluidity, especially on cuts like opener ‘Paint a Picture’, ‘Something Real’, and penultimate track ‘Idle Hours’.
Elsewhere, the band turns to UK post-punk/rock act New Model Army for an unlikely but superb cover of their 1989 song ‘I Love the World’, while the likes of ‘Dream Again’, ‘Still Black’ are full-on tech-thrash with as many stops and time-changes as you could wish for. ‘What You Became’ turns the prog up to eleven, and like much of the album, ‘Explained Away’ and epic closer ‘Far Too Long’ are dripping with anger and despair.
With demo versions of ‘Tools of Separation’, ‘Paint a Picture’ ‘(Grey is) Still Black’, and ‘Far Too Long’ featured as bonus tracks, Manic Impressions is a great example of exploratory ’90s thrash, which leads onto what many fans see as the band’s finest hour…
8 / 10
Right from ‘Sound the Alarm’, the opening track to 1993’s Screams and Whispers (Metal Blade) Anacrusis sound stronger and bolder than ever. A powerful statement of intent which continues unabated with each successive song, the confidence displayed by the band making it even more disappointing that it was to be their final studio release.
Nardi’s vocals are the best they’ve ever been, his voice expertly reflecting the mood and personality of each song. The riffs are muscular and lean, all excess fat cut away to let Emery’s bass, and the drums of new sticksman Paul Miles shine through a great mix.
Not a disappointing song on the album, ‘Release’ and ‘Driven’ are Anacrusis at their melancholic and proggy best, ‘Division’ and the Coroner-esque ‘Too Many Prophets’ are pure drama, ‘A Screaming Breath’ isn’t too far removed from Tool, ‘My Soul’s Affliction’ is full of tension and release, while their use of keyboards on ‘Tools of Separation’, ‘Grateful’, and the darkly twisted closer ‘Brotherhood’ hints at avenues where the band would have likely ventured next.
Featuring more bonus tracks, included this time is a remix of ‘Release’ plus demo cuts of ‘Sound the Alarm’, ‘Forsaken’ and ‘Brotherhood’.
“Go out on a high”, they say. Well, that’s exactly what Anacrusis did with Screams and Whispers.
Is it too late to ask for an encore?
9 / 10