Before my introduction to Industrial music, my love for Black Metal was unparalleled by any other genre. Naturally, one of my most played albums this year so far is ‘Anathema’. This album achieves the sound that Dawn of Ashes have been reaching for since the beginning. They’ve always had a great sound – ‘In Acts of Violence’ had a great harsh EBM sound and ‘Genocide Chapters’ had an intriguing black metal tone – but the sound on this album is a perfect hybrid of Industrial and Black Metal. With help from the great Chris Vrenna, Kristof Bathory has produced a unique sound that is at once black metal and harshly industrial. This album is laden with brutal guitars and searing synths overlaid with an epic symphony and scornful vocals. Bathory’s vocals project straight from his hateful heart and work with the horror tone of the album to generate uncomfortable levels of malice. Every track is laced with evil electronic sounds and yet each seems to be possessed with some ancient, primal evil too. The vocalists/masterminds behind both Psyclon Nine and Dismantled visit this album as well, the former on ‘Poisoning the Steps of Babel’ and the latter on ‘Scars On Scars,’ and both are quite at home in the vicious world Bathory creates for them.
Psyclon Nine, Dismantled and Dawn of Ashes are all Los Angeles Industrialites who use that Rock/Metal edge to great effect, but it’s Dawn of Ashes that brandishes the sharpest, blackest blade. While this edge will probably alienate some of the cyber obsessed, neon clad Goths that are so prolific in today’s Industrial scene, the more progressive or metal-prone fans of the genre will find all this epic extremity an exhilarating evolution for Industrial. This album’s take on ‘Torture Device’ definitely won’t be dominating the dance floors, but as a work of art it’s far more terrifying and violently inspiring than its predecessor from ‘The Crypt Injection’, which is a trend that’s spread throughout the album. ‘Poisoning the Steps of Babel’ creates a chaotic, disturbing scene grander than any Harsh EBM track and more sleek than most Black Metal tracks – the perfect example of how ‘Anathema’ plays with the best elements of each musical style while avoiding the stale segments. Nero Bellum’s voice is that final layer that unifies the tone on this album. The next track ‘Insidious (Of the Judas Breed)’ then steps in with an absolutely insane Rock/Symphonic/Industrial/Black sound that pleads for me to stop using the very limited genre descriptors from here on out. At once the blistering guitar riffs work with the orchestral elements and mechanical samples to verify that Dawn of Ashes can do whatever they want, they can borrow all the best sounds from great music to do something new and untamed. The slick, sneering evil within ‘Morphine Addiction’ threatens everything in its path and – to me, at least – proves that recently, Industrial music has been sending synths to do a guitar’s work for far too long. ‘Systematic Guillotine’ is a blistering assault of filth and blood, hammering corruption into helpless hearts. Gary Zon’s inflicted, wretched tone from Dismantled lends itself perfectly to ‘Scars on Scars’ and then Bathory wraps the album up with the final instalment of the ‘Anathema’ tracks, the brilliant interludes that tie the whole thing into one unified, infectious, hideous mass. This grimacing art is engineered to infect and corrupt the appreciators of any kind of malicious, hellacious music. You think you’ve got a handle on evil? I dare you to experience ‘Anathema’ and let this wicked, genre-less thing prove you wrong.
Dawn Of Ashes – Anathema is available now via Metropolis Records.