Ansur - Warring Factions
Progressive Metal
7 songs (1:01:30)
Release year: 2008
Ansur, Candlelight
Reviewed by Goat

We live in a selfish world, sad but true. The situation in Africa gets worse daily, people steal, rape and kill, money is the new moral. Even if you lower your gaze a little to the global music scene, all is not well; people are more concerned with Timbaland than Tenhi, Trivium than Therion. The artistic element in music - that spark of life that stops it becoming as soulless and trite as what you hear in department stores every day – is becoming increasingly sidelined, pushed into a little sub-genre of its own. What started as a joyous, freeform experiment is being dissected and placed in individual jars like some genetic experiment gone very wrong. Nowadays, if you want Thrash, you have Thrash, if you want Death, you have Death. The boundaries aren’t being broken, far from it; they’re being built up even higher!

This, of course, makes listening to those bands that wear their artistry on their colourful sleeves fraught with danger. You really couldn’t mistake Warring Factions for anything other than a Prog album, just look at that cover! Yet thanks to the music industry, on the first play of the Norwegian trio’s second album, it’s impossible to know which way to turn. Is this genuine or false? Is this a valid exploration of 70’s Prog themes, brought up to date by some Black Metal-raised young ‘uns (the members are barely in their twenties), or a cynical rediscovery of a once forgotten genre, timed perfectly to coincide with a forthcoming Opeth release?

Well, for once the cynicism is gone, all dissenting voices locked up and the key thrown away. Where debut full-length Axiom was a promising late-Emperor clone, this is more like the Prog-Thrash of Australian maestro Alarum, albeit one more in touch with the 70s. Starting with gentle acoustics and moving rapidly through Tech-Death territory, Ansur has broadened its palette tremendously. The sheer range of riffage on show here is quite wonderful, even touching on Country in a wonderful moment in An Exercise In Depth Of Field, and Progheads that appreciate the likes of Dream Theater and Opeth will be in heaven.

If there’s one downside to the album, it’s the vocals, which are semi-harsh growls. It sounds like Warrel Dane doing a poor impression of Johan Hegg, and although the music is good enough to overcome them, they’re quite rare and not as bad once you’re used to them, there’s still enough niggling dissatisfaction to hold Ansur back from the highest levels of esteem. Little to nothing is added by the vocals, and the band would have been better without them.

Still, for a second album from a band only formed in 2003, this is sterling stuff. The seven lengthy tracks here will keep all manner of Progheads enthralled, from all ends of the spectrum. With promise like this, Ansur could be a future Opeth-beater in Prog Metal terms, and deserves attention from everyone reading.

Killing Songs :
The Tunguska Incident, An Exercise In Depth Of Field, At His Wit’s End, Cloudscaper
Goat quoted 82 / 100
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