With “Screams And Whispers” ANACRUSIS continued to build on the progressive Thrash sound that defined their previous album (“Manic Impressions”), and to a lesser extent the one before that, “Reason”. By the early 1990s the Thrash Metal scene was already on its last legs, but this album gave it one last much needed shot in the arm before both the band and the Thrash sound imploded gloriously. It’s a sad thing since this band always managed to put out material that was just that one step ahead of the pack.
Anyway, this album represents the highpoint of ANACRUSIS’s career. I actually still like “Manic Impressions” a tad more but this album really is the better of the two. The riffs are more intricate, the drum parts more technical, and Ken Nardi’s vocals are as varied as ever. All this cost the band’s sound a bit of catchiness, but then again these guys were never meant to sound like sing-along Thrash *coughTANKARDcough*. It really is a superb album but not a perfect one – at times the experimentation sounds forced and just plain bewildering, with tracks like “A Screaming Death” and “Driven” just being all-out bad – bogged down by excessive stop-start rhythms and all sorts of vocal idiosyncrasies. Fortunately this album also features some of the band’s best ever songs like the classic opener “Sound The Alarm” with its haunting melodies and excellent pre-chorus riffs, Division” and “Release”, a track that features one of my all-time favorite riffs. Hell, they even throw in an orchestra on “Brotherhood”! Oh yeah, they also shot a cool video for “Sound”, so look for it on Youtube sometime…
The previous album suffered a bit from a dry sound but on here the production is rich, adding an eerie (in a good way) texture to the songs. Ken Nardi has always been the lynchpin of the band and it’s the same here – if you are not moved by his unique vocals then you better check that you still have a pulse.
I can’t really say much more about this album. It’s testament to this band’s ability to write intelligent music that still retains heaviness and if you love stuff like NEVERMORE then I’m sure you’ll lap this up as well. Overall this is a slightly flawed release (perhaps they were a bit too ambitious at times?) but nevertheless a very atmospheric and rewarding listen. Metal needs more bands like this. As I mentioned before, all the band’s albums can be downloaded for free at their site, so you know what to do.
(Online July 26, 2007)