Listening to and basking in the furious unbridled thrash spawned onslaught of Hubris, Inc. back in 2013, there was a moment where thoughts wondered where Anger As Art could go from there to eclipse the might of their acclaimed release. Quite simply it seems, the Californian quartet racked every element of their sound, from aggression and creative tenacity to adrenaline and individual imagination and come up with another inevitable crowd pleaser in Ad Mortem Festinamus.
Formed in 2004 by vocalist/guitarist Steve Gaines (Abattoir, Bloodlust, Tactics, Bitch, Dreams of Damnation, Pagan War Machine), Anger Of Art is a band unafraid of showing its roots whilst savaging ears with its own individual collusion of raw thrash and insatiable speed metal. The years and releases have seen the band becomes more creatively bestial and gripping, as proven by 2013 album Hubris, Inc. and even more imposingly now within its ravenous successor Ad Mortem Festinamus. Equally, the band’s melodic and sonic enterprise, which springs as effortlessly from the band as senses crushing ferocity, has also evolved into something as insatiable and creatively virulent to captivate like a high class hooker within a war driven landscape within their new offering. In Ad Mortem Festinamus every element of the band has hit new heights to emerge a psyche twisting irreverence of vicious rock ‘n’ roll which for us Anger As Art’s finest moment yet.
It all starts with the album’s title track, a relatively brief incantation of voice and portentous ambience which soon breeds an imposing sinister lit tapestry of intrigue laced with a pent up hostility which is just waiting to erupt, something it does in Pissing On Your Grave. The second track initially lays down a bed of rhythmic and sonic traps before bursting with unrestrained animosity through ears, in turn marauding through emotions and sparking the imagination. Gaines’ vocals leads the looting of the senses amidst a torrent of crushing riffs and searing grooves offered by his and Dan Oliverio’s craft upon guitar strings. Rhythmically the swings of drummer Rob Alaniz are welcomingly intensive whilst the bass of Eric Bryan incites primal instincts, each adding to a tremendous and spirit rousing encounter more than matched by the following Aim For The Heart. Just as predacious and uncompromising, the track rhythmically picks at the already placed bruises whilst sizzling on the senses with sonic imagination and a great blend of vocal rapacity across the band.
As expected, the pair of Tombward and L.A. State Of Mind show no mercy next, the first the most grievously enticing and volatile tempest so far upon the album whilst its successor is barbarous punk infused metal out to devour and annihilate anything in its way. Both tracks find a fresh gear for the album in their individual ways, the twists of imagination in the first a rival for the sheer irresistible and brutal rock ‘n’ roll of the second, though even so, the pair do get a touch over shaded by the similarly frenzied and venomous Unknowing, Undead. The great physically and emotionally caustic vocal pairing of Gaines and Bryan roar spitefully within the song’s blistering storm but just as easily wear the web of sonic invention which escapes the guitars to magnetic effect around them.
The album is nothing left than a series of highs but an inescapable pinnacle is the rousing anthem of Hammer, Blade, and Twisting Fire. It is a sure fire call to arms for spirit and energy driven by a relentless and deliciously nagging bassline. The track is like a brawling celebration on the eve of battle, with liquor like hooks and grooves extra intoxication before We Hurry Into Death becomes the vehicle for ears and imagination to dive headlong into a barrage of adversarial thrash fuelled rancor.
Anger As Art barely gives time for a breath to be swallowed let alone calm to approach body and emotions, Two Minutes Hate living up to an extended version of its title with its unsympathetic and combative animus of sound and intent. A moment to regroup is given by Praise Of The Firehead as it opens with a great melodic caress of guitar aligned to an earnest lure of clean vocals. In time though, its heart and underlying intensity bursts free in a mighty bellow with the song continuing to merge mellower reflective moments with angst soaked crescendos thereafter. Wrapped in volcanic melodic flames, the song, if without quite lighting personal tastes as forcibly as many of its predecessors, easily captivates as the band reveal further inventive exploration of ideas.
A final trespass of tumultuous energy and imaginative adventure is uncaged by Dim Carcosa; the track the link between the band’s unrestrained thrash intrusions and the more tenacious imagination of the last song, and ultimately another pinnacle of Ad Mortem Festinamus.
In many ways, fans know what they will get with Anger As Art, but with each release the band always surprises and provides a fresh encounter as they push themselves. There are many reasons why thrash metal excites so many of us and now Ad Mortem Festinamus provides yet another unopposed excuse to express that ardour.
Ad Mortem Festinamus is released March 11th via Old School Metal Records across most online stores.
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Pete RingMaster 11/03/2016
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