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Album Reviews : Anubis – 230503

By on November 25, 2010

Sydney progressive rock band Anubis was formed in 2004 by vocalist Robert James Moulding and keyboardist David Eaton, with the sole objective being to create their debut LP ‘230503’. The album title refers to a date in which one of their mutual friends was accidentally killed, and it is tributed to him. Such a tribute would require unparalleled scope, but over the course of three long years, the band has crafted 70 minutes of old-school progressive rock that is almost beyond words that can bring it justice.

When I say old-school progressive rock, think Porcupine Tree crossed with Marillion, with intricate layers of sonic texture so delicate that a single shudder could destroy the universe as we know it. The vocals are at times abstract, yet this adds to the beauty of the final product as you can never quite work out where the band is going with a particular song and the complexities continue to build, always pushing the concept, dragging you further down the rabbit hole.

The concept revolves around the disappearance of a man who falls into the ocean off the side of a boat whilst travelling with his lover. His family is told of the tragic news, and he then washes ashore on a beach, unaware of who is or what is going on. He makes his way back to the city only to have to face reality and reckon with who he really is. But is this all just a dream? Someone else’s dream.

It is clear that the band have really poured their hearts and their souls into creating this album. The opening track begins with the ringing of a phone, and from then on it is a descent into a semi-fictional world of madness that feels like an emotional rollercoaster. Tracks often traverse a myriad of emotional and stylistic approaches, whilst tracks such as “Waterfall” are quite desolate and sombre and tracks such as opener “The Deepest Wound” are more upbeat and energetic. “The Doctor” even has a 1970s swing feel to it. The band use an abundance of synths to help achieve these often epic, climatic moments of sonic bliss, whilst there are enough moments of heavy, guitar-dominated rocking to keep metal and rock fans happy, including some truly awe-inspiring guitar solos.

Most of the tracks go for about five minutes, except for a few of them, including the final track “Disinfected and Abused” which goes for roughly 18 minutes. Whilst most songs of this length tend to become stagnant quite quickly, not once does this song sound like it is being unwillingly dragged on past it’s expiry point. When the music finally fades, we are left with nothing but the ringing of a telephone, the same one we heard at the beginning of the album, bringing everything in full circle.

Three long years of crafting this album was three years well spent, as Anubis have created a tribute that hits every emotional extreme and leaves you in awe, as listening to this album from start to finish really sucks you into the concept and the journey that plays out across the ten tracks. Listening to ‘230503’ reminds us that there is a delicate art to classic progressive rock that is rarely replicated with such finesse in today’s rushed and creatively drained music scene. 9/10

Band: Anubis
Album: 230503
Year: 2009
Genre: Progressive Rock
Origin: Sydney, Australia
Label: Independent
www.anubismusic.com

Track listing:

1. The Deepest Wound
2. Leaving Here Tonight
3. Breaking Water
4. Waterfall
5. Anonymity
6. The Bond of Mutual Distrust
7. The Doctor
8. Flying/Falling
9. The Collapse
10. Disinfected and Abused

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.