Monday 19 January 2015

Anatomy of Habit - Ciphers + Axioms (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 3/11/2014
Label: Relapse Records

‘Ciphers + Axioms’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

1). ‘Radiate and Recede’
2). ‘Then Window’

Anatomy of Habit is:

Theo Katsaounis | Percussion
Will Lindsay | Guitar
John McEntire | Drums
Kenny Rasmussen| Bass
Mark Solotroff | Vocals


This album is a masterpiece of huge noise. Anatomy of Habit has produced a musical titan composed of two halves: the rolling ‘Radiate and Recede’ & the intense ‘Then Window’. Anatomy of Habit simply roll with unrestrained mass in their sound, using what sounds like a stadium to push wave after wave of fuzz and bass over the listener. The songs aren't short jaunts through ideas either, but winding 20+ minute paths that wind through poetic ideas. The band is basically a super group, using members from other notable acts: Mark Solotroff (Bloodyminded), John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake, Gastr Del Sol), Will Lindsay (Indians, Wolves in the Throne Room), Theo Katsaounis (Joan of Arc), and Kenny Rasmussen (ex Radar Eyes). These talented individuals have brought you an album that is closer to art, than just simply heavy music. I have minced words too long, let’s dive in!

The first epic, ‘Radiate and Recede’, is pretty spot on. The entire song is basically following a tidal pattern of having the guitars and, I think, string accompaniment roll in at measured times, to flow over everything. It's like God slowly rolling up the volume of universal life to just drown out petty humanity. It's somewhat akin to white noise, the repeating chords and notes just seem to blank out whatever is inside your head, while Solotroff simply gives an odd beauty with his nearly chant-like vocals. It’s a weird combination, but one that sticks in the listeners head pretty nicely. He doesn't alter his cadence, using a monotone baritone to deliver his simple lines, but it winds well with the building wall of noise and doom rolling around you. The vocals do change in a couple of spots, where he gets some scream time in, but nothing as terrible as screamo or other style so terrible. It arrives in time with a huge change in tempo and attitude with the band, and peaks to break into the lulls it so commands. The song, when at its simplest, uses percussion and minimal guitar to just leave a resounding space for Solotroff's voice to echo into infinity, which has to just knock angels out of their clouds. The ending of ‘Radiate and Recede’ is really heady, as it becomes more plodding doom, with a subtle transition from the earlier parts. It gets all kinds of heavy.

‘Then Window’ is quite different from ‘Radiate and Recede’, it starts with some heavy feedback, which then just morphs into differing textures and patterns. After about a minute of that, they go right into a heavy marching pattern, with the stringed half playing quite percussively with the drums. It has a purpose, and it's not stopping for anything. The vocals are in the same vein as ‘Radiate and Recede’, following a specific pattern and still that odd chant singing. This is by far my favorite song, as it has a bit more energy than the first song, and also because of the change in the last 7+ minutes of the song. The first 13 are more traditional doom and rock styled, as you have intense grooves with extremely hard delivery. It almost sounds like they had to get this last one out of their strings, so they went for broke on some sections. It goes immediately from groove city to light sections with minimal playing and more vocals. The lighter sections aren't to leave you hanging, as they slowly ramp up from behind to deliver right back into heaviness. The change happens at the 9 minute mark, where the song just starts fading out from the vocals, like they were all just sneaking out to leave Solotroff alone with himself, but then he stops on the repeated line of "Ciphers, and Axioms", and the song takes a rolling, ambient feel. It's like watching the baby float through 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s just epic. It’s rolling noise with an underlying riff right below it, probably best on certain chemicals. 

Overall, ‘Ciphers + Axioms’ by Anatomy of Habit is one of the best albums from last year, perfect for the heavy aficionado who likes to mix it up with their collection.

Words by: Hunter Young

You can pick up a CD/LP copy here.

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