Album Review: ANUBIS – The Second Hand

Anubis - The Second Hand

Australian masters of cinematic progressive rock, Anubis, have returned with the release of their fourth studio album last month. Titled The Second Hand, a follow-up to 2014’s excellent Hitchhiking to Byzantium, is a concept album that “charts the downfall of an aging media mogul, James Osbourne-Fox, who, after a severe brain injury is left paralysed and imprisoned in his own body and left to contemplate the futility of his life of corporate success.

The Second Hand is an amazing journey filled with passages of extreme high intensity, soft introspection, delicate acoustic transitions, and high exaltation. In places it will instantly take you from a powerful, relentless, drummer Steven Eaton driven musical blitzkrieg to a soft and inspiring dreamy acoustic passage. Tons of ideas and melodies flow through the album, and even though the inspired instrumental parts and the odd time signatures are always there, the music and the melodies remain accessible for anyone. There’s just so much talent here.

It’s clearly a “larger than the sum of its parts” album, but still one can find plenty of highlights in it. Like the opening title track for example, or the Marillion inspired lead single “Fool’s Gold.”

The album includes a three-part suite called “These Changing Seasons.” The first of them comes right after “Fool’s Gold,” and is a lush tune which is singer Robert James Moulding’s moment to shine. “The Making of Me” is clearly one of many band moments on the album—the guys are delivering astounding instrumental work led by Moulding’s voice.

Anubis 2017

Almost 10-minute long “While Rome Burns” starts with an atmospheric intro similar to Pink Floyd, but it’s not for too long until incredible odd signatures come in. “Blackout,” jumping in with such a tasty guitar solo right off the bat just to bring the heat down before the vocals kick in, is yet another strong moment on The Second Hand. The transitional “These Changing Seasons II” is for the better part an acoustic piece which leads to the following 16-odd-minute epic “Pages of Stone,” a truly remarkable centerpiece of the album. Not that the previous songs were bad, it’s quite the opposite actually, but what “Pages of Stone” shows is that Anubis’ strength is fully displayed in long compositions. Most of its time, the song feels as a soundtrack, and that feels natural considering that The Second Hand is a concept record. Full of emotion and divine melodies, Anubis are on their best here.

Finally, “These Changing Seasons III” completes the suite and The Second Hand, with Moulding singing: “Seasons have changed / As we reclaim our hearts, unchained / We can always put aside / All the differences inside / And reach out, we cannot hide / It ends this way, all alone again.

The Second Hand lives in that magical sweet spot where the listener doesn’t know what is coming next, but when it happens recognizes it couldn’t have gone any other way. It should go without saying that if you’re already an Anubis fan you will absolutely love this album. It is well within the “typical” style of complex music enhanced with adequate lyrics.

The album is amped up into something unique. It is clear evidence that Anubis is continuing to grow and elevate the quality of its music. Then again, it’s hard to imagine there is a ceiling to the quality of this band’s output. There simply are no weaknesses in this lineup and each member provides a powerful contribution that makes the whole even greater.

The Second Hand is out now; order it from Bandcamp.

Tracklist:

1. The Second Hand
2. Fool’s Gold
3. These Changing Seasons I
4. The Making of Me
5. While Rome Burns
6. Blackout
7. These Changing Seasons II
8. Pages of Stone
9. These Changing Seasons III

Line-up:

* Robert James Moulding – vocals, guitars, percussion
* Douglas Skene – electric & acoustic guitars, electric sitar, vocals
* Dean Bennison – electric, slide & acoustic guitars, vocals, producer & mixing
* David Eaton – organs, Mellotron, piano, synthesisers, guitar, vocals
* Anthony Stewart – bass, scoustic bass, Moog bass pedals, vocals
* Steven Eaton – drums, percussion, glockenspiel, vocals

With:

* Tom Winters – vocals (9)
* Lochie Winters – vocals (9)
* Reece Denton – vocals (9)
* Brian Dade, Marcus Mulu, Cliff Pearson, Patricia Eaton, Andrew Eaton, Jessica Skene, Andrew Craig, Sasha Ioshpe, Chris Tracey / additional speaking voices

Links:

anubismusic.com

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