The Intestinal Fortitude News Feed

Black Anvil “As Was” Album Review by Vincent Daemon



BLACK ANVIL is: PAUL DELANEY: Bass; Vocals *(2007 – present) RAEPH GLICKEN: Drums; Vocals *(2007 – present) TRAVIS BACON: Guitar; Vocals *(2016 – present) JEREMY SOSVILLE: Guitar; Vocals *(2012 – present)\



Another mystery-mail from THEE B-MOVIE BRUJO & brutalizer of the techno-sonic airwaves, Horror Host/DJ/Radiocast co-host, the One and Only  ANDROIDVIRUS *(essentially encouraging me to get off my ass and back on the grid – – – to fukk the world in it’s sluicing eye socket and move on from the damage done due to the extraneously prolonged demise of TWO IN THE SAME BOAT + 1 – – – to which I thank him {and there will be an article coming soon to explain just what went wrong, why, and how simply it could’ve been avoided} – – – but I’m seriously fukking digressing here, so let’s get to the fukking album already!), meaning, essentially, I never know just what I’m going to get.

For me, realistically, 2016 was a fairly shit year for music, if it wasn’t CANCERSLUG, ROCK JONG IL, JOHN CARPENTER, DI AUGER or DOUBLE EYELID. Reviewing new music was *(almost) becoming a chore and a bore *(granted, I’m sure there’s much I missed, and some I never got around too, but by and large I wasn’t overly impressed). But BANG! 2017 starts off with this, AS WAS, the fourth Lp from New York based Black Metal band BLACK ANVIL. Admittedly, I’ve never heard of these guys, as my taste in Black Metal began to wean away once the white power and over-the-top, laughable Tolkien antics sprouted like lightning-seed fungi and overcrowded the core aspects of the genre with utter nonsense, attempting to make what’s supposed to sound rotten *(or, rather, rotting) as clean and grandiose as possible *(yes CRADLE OF FILTH, and DIMMU BORGIR, I’m glaring at you), or worse yet those who decided to make it a “race/purity” thing *(yes, VARG, I’m both glaring at and recoiling from your bizzare fresh-out-of-Norwegian prison, seemingly homeless, nomadic back-of-the-van-rants you litter youtube with – – – but again I digress).


BLACK ANVIL AS WAS LABEL: Relapse Records RELEASED: January 17th, 2017

However, over the years, to the chagrin of some, the disappointment of others, and the re-intriguement back into the music *(the category I kind of place myself in, here) due to the progressions of certain acts *(ULVER almost entirely alienating their original fanbase due to their experimentation and explorations with the bleakest elements of sound, unfortunately proving the tunnel-vision mindset so many “Black Metallers” have unduly carved out for themselves since the mid-1990’s; there’s also Germany’s amazing BETHLEHEM, whom also did pretty much the same thing – – – they grew, their fan-bases didn’t); the regression of others *(acts like DARKTHRONE and CARPATHIAN FOREST embracing retro-influences such as classic Punk or Goth/Deathrock into their sonic philosophies – – – alternately confusing the more dunderheaded of genre fans while proving to others [like myself, who always believed] that Black Metal was merely the Scandi-land’s own personalized version of Punk Rock); and the bands who’ve stuck with their own tried & tested “formulae” *(CRADLE OF FILTH, DIMMU BORGIR, MARDUK) that seems to have worked for them so, hey fukk it, why bother with experimentation in sound and philosophy.

BLACK ANVIL’s AS WAS takes those attitudes and forces the collective undersized cock thereof into it’s own tunnel-visioned ass. For starters, the production is top notch, very well thought out and applied to the music, without losing that feeling of persistent Cosmic Rot that Black Metal is *(or, in it’s not-so-humble second-wave stirrings, was) synonymous with, or at the very least attempt to elicit. And just how was that accomplished? To my perspective, it seems to come from the musicians themselves, who actually do manage to work with the “clean” Black Metal style of production by maneuvering it down dark and endless halls of claustrophobia and Abyss’ that stare right back to the eye in your ear. After listening to this a few times and doing my research on these guys, I came to find out some fairly interesting things, not the least of which are their influences: POISON IDEA, VENOM, CELTIC FROST, MERCYFUL FATE, TWISTED SISTER, BAD BRAINS, SODOM, KREATOR, BLACK FLAG, DARKTHRONE – – – a beautiful blend of varied Metal & Punk upon which I primarily grew up listening to. *(And hell, any band that lists POISON IDEA as their primary influence? Due to a strong personal bias/love of P.I. you’ve already caught my attention.)

With eight songs and a running time of about 50 minutes, this album both exponentially expounds upon the more progressive aspects *(and aesthetics) of what Black Metal has finally started to grow into since I’d stopped listening to the newer/rehash crap. It also harkens back to a simpler time in Metal history when there only were 8 – 10 songs on your standard Lp – – – QUALITY OVER QUANTITY *(an ethos almost entirely absent from all music with the rise of technology – – – and the only band who can pull it off is CANCERSLUG). There was always so much promise hidden within the Luciferian ideas of the sub-genre that lay untouched *(or possibly ignored, at that time, in favor of the “shock tactics” employed by many acts that, unfortunately, tried to ride their careers off of – – – MAYHEM, HAVOHEJ/PROFANATICA, KETTLE CADAVER, etc., – – – all acts I liked, but relied so heavily on whirling dervishes of visceral atrocity – – – which I’m all for, and most of my own bands, while not Black Metal, were also guilty of at times, and will be should another actually come to fruition – – – but that theatricality, perhaps unintentionally, ultimately belittled their own philosophies and eventually dragged those bands down into the annals of Black Metal obscurity, where most are to be found anyway. In some cases it just became too cartoonish, certain bands taking their schticks way too seriously).

ba4And I realize I’ve used that dirty, dirty word Black Metal fans *(and foolish Punks alike) absolutely loathe to hear: PROGRESSIVE. Yes, BLACK ANVIL’s AS WAS is what I’d term as Progressive Black Metal. For whatever reason, the term “Progressive” *(most commonly referred to the simplified “Prog-add genre here”) leads relatively unschooled Metalheads and Punks to think they’re about to be abused with DREAM THEATER or *(fukk-forbid – – – enlightened?) by KING CRIMSON *(who recorded the incredibly heavy album RED in 1974, a must for any Stoner/Doom fan). From the doom-laden opener “On Forgotten Ways,” to the fist-pump fury of the closer, “Ultra” *(if THE DICTATORS had been a Black Metal band, it would have sounded like this and it would have been fukking awesome), there’s nary a dull moment on the album. The focus here isn’t on pummeling blast beats and indiscernible vocal howls, but on creating something new, on the growth of a sound that sat on one plateau long enough to collect a half-inch of dust. BLACK ANVIL introduce moods and emotions on this Lp that, up until some of the more recent and/or lesser known Black Metal acts *(THE DEVIL’S BLOOD, GHOST, WATAIN, BORN IN ANGEL BLOOD, UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS, BARONESS, SLEEP OF MONSTERS, EVOKEN, SELIM LEMOUCHI AND HIS ENEMIES, etc.) not all of the aforementioned are directly or widely considered “Black Metal” per se, or in the traditional sense, but are all quite openly and genuinely “Luciferian” in nature, philosophy, belief system and lifestyle – – – it to me seems like the logical maturation of an “accidental” subgenre *(for those not in the know, research the history of the genre, and you’ll fully understand why I say “accidental”), originally and deliberately rooted and presented with an elitist militant barbarism – – – and that angry sonic barbarian, now a bit more mature, is wanting of it’s words to be heard and understood, not clouded with blast-beats and indistinguishable howls of fury, and realizing that this all really has nothing at all to do with “good” or “evil,” but indeed things far more complicated and infinitely more cosmic in nature. And nowhere is this more evident than with the title track, “As Was,” a tearfully beautiful and truly epic piece of songwriting that relies entirely on the emotionality and gut-grabbing flow of its interweaving clean and raspy vocals, as well as music, and an utterly classic build-up to one’s own psychological cataclysm. *(I’ve included the official RELAPSE RECORDS promo vid for this song/the album at the end of the article for those interested.)

All things change. Some for the better, most usually for the lesser. This is something that is most definitely for the better: of it’s genre; of Metal in general; and of the darker musics as a whole, for there really are so many atmospheres and genre crossovers here that to pin BLACK ANVIL’s AS WAS down as strictly Black Metal could be pigeonholing to a deleterious effect. One who’s properly schooled themselves in underground musics, they will hear not just the influences of BATHORY *(RIP Quorthon, aka: TOMAS FORSBERG) and CELTIC FROST, but also BAUHAUS, POISON IDEA, ULVER – – – even the MC5. Job well done, BLACK ANVIL.

ba5Of corpse, billing yourself as a “Black Metal” band is going to bring out all the “well it’s not TRUE Black Metal, WAH!” types *(you’ve seen them – – – they’re the one’s who show up at local gigs decked out like ABBATH DOOM OCCULTA from IMMORTAL, but really look more like a bottom-barrel PAUL STANLEY from KISS, a band I loathe more than life itself, so that’s really quite saying something). However, their response to this is just about the best and healthiest one to be had: We’ve dealt with shit from day one. From friends, reviewers, fucking bloggers, or whatever you want to call them. I don’t really give a shit what anyone thinks. It’s easy to put on a record and gather an opinion based on shit you have no idea about. Our record has a bigger production, which to me is still way raw. We recorded the album in 3 days, and our shit has our own twist to it musically. It’s not ‘real’ enough for people, yet these are the people that do nothing but sit home, sit on the internet & judge what other people do and create. These people do not know us, do not know what we are about, at ALL. I don’t need to make anyone else happy with what this band does. It’s not about pleasing the listener. If you are pleased, then great. If not, go fuck yourself. We could easily be carbon copies of other bands, but we still write what we want based on our reaction. Not that we’re this original band, to me we are, in the grand scheme we’re not. I think real recognizes real in the end of the day.” *(Actually the person writing this review has been performing music, off and on, professionally and non, for over 25 years, so they’re wrong, at least with this reviewer on that point, but generally speaking, yes, most “critics” and criers are not creators, so they’ve no fukking clue to all that goes into this, but otherwise, dead on – – – and I happen to think they’re highly original, I’ve never heard anything quite like it.)

Elephant skin thick and true to the gut, the way it should be. *(I always found the “true/pure” Black Metal argument one of PURE juvenalia – – – it doesn’t make a lick of sense and really only applies to the Second Wave of Norwegian and Swedish bands, the two communities despising each other in those simpler times – – – so really, it’s moot, a long dead argument – – – and just as knuckleheaded as the CHRISTIAN DEATH Rozz/Valor debates – – – if you happen to be of these mindsets, please just stop reading my columns [I’m not sure if anyone does anyway, nor do I really care].)  

And one last bit of trivia about the band, which I found incredibly interesting and further proves my point about Black Metal really being a mutated Punk of sorts: Every member of BLACK ANVIL has at some point, and some still are, with side projects, etc., in both the New York and Philadelphia Punk scenes, as well. Some of the other bands and projects the members have been involved in include SHEER TERROR, NONE MORE BLACK, DEATH CYCLE, and in fact BLACK ANVIL themselves rose from the ashes of Hardcore Punk band KILL YOUR IDOLS. Henceforth this massive overhaul and growth of the genre makes absolute sense, and it’s something also highly prevalent in many of the Metal genre acts they associate with. If this is the direction Black Metal continues to go in, my curiosity may have been rekindled.

BLACK ANVIL’s AS WAS is a deep, emotional, anthemic and personal journey about paths chosen and sufferings survived; it points to the room more dimly lit, but that one knows there be real knowledge to be had and a self that can use that knowledge in ways most profound. There is no schtick here. Listen – – – learn – – – like the best of musics. Recommended for: fans of metal that challenges and confronts, induces thought; Doom fans; German Thrash enthusiasts; fans of harder, darker and more obscure Punk and Hardcore; those longing for something new, original in metal, most especially of the Blackened variety.

And I thank that strange, dream-walking B-MOVIE BRUJO for sending this my way. I’d’ve probably never given this a second look if left entirely to my own devices, and it resonates with me in a way much needed right now. Afterall, I did kind of poison him with CANCERSLUG, to which he got me back with THE DEVIL’S BLOOD – – – a fair trade. BLACK ANVIL is another, as I’m already checking out their previous three albums, as you should too.

So stop being a lazy bastard, forego a coupla days worth of bathsalts, and pick yourself up a copy of BLACK ANVIL’s AS WAS, you cheap bastard *(I already know you’re cheap because you’re going to the bodega every half an hour for bathsalts instead of just getting some coke – – – really, is there no transparency left in this world? OH, that’s right, we live in a sissified Mommy-Trigger Culture right now – – – but that one’s for another time). In short, go buy the fukking album – – – you shan’t be disappointed.

BLACK ANVIL “AS WAS promo video: 

For info, merch, and more from RELAPSE RECORDS and BLACK ANVIL:

BLACK ANVIL – The ‘As Was’ full-length due out now on CD/2xLP/Digital via Relapse Records. Order Here:

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Order on Bandcamp:

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Official Links:

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