Album of the Week 12-2015: Kenn Nardi – Dancing With The Past

Anacrusis was one of the most unique bands ever to have graced the Metal scene. Want proof? Name one band that sounds like them. See? Their one of a kind blend of Thrash Metal, Progmetal and hints of New Wave and even some suspenseful film score music made 1993’s ‘Screams And Whispers’ the progressive masterpiece that it is. The band never had a chance to outdo that album, since like many Thrash related bands, the nineties ultimately proved fatal to them. There was a glimmer of hope for a sequel when the band reunited for a few gigs, but the band quit again. However, in ‘Dancing With The Past’, singer and guitarist Kenn Nardi has released a spiritual successor to ‘Screams And Whispers’.

Nardi had intended this material to be on Anacrusis’ fifth studio album. When the band split up again, he turned it into a massive work spanning two CD’s and over two and a half hours. Commercially, making two studio albums – or even three – would be a more attractive option to release the album, but I’m not sure if selling records was the motive behind this release. There’s no need to draw new people in here and those who loved Anacrusis are accustomed to this kind of inaccessibility. In fact, this is more than just a release to fans of the band: it’s a treat.

The sound of the album is very much reminiscent of nineties Anacrusis, but it isn’t a blatant ‘Manic Impressions’ rewrite. The progressive approach and fearless experimentalism was always a strong feat of Nardi’s compositions and ‘Dancing With The Past’ is no different. It finds Nardi exploring all corners of his influences and often the ones that stray from what one may have come to expect are the most pleasant surprises; ‘Submerged’, for instance, is a dark Rocker with a prominent New Wave flavor, but stands out considerably as such.

Generally, the album has four distinct chapters with only a few deviations. The first cd starts with relatively simple, atmospheric midtempo stompers – only broken by the Thrash monster ‘Fragile’ – before moving into a bleak and doomy second act, highlighted by the first disc’s desparate, pitch black closer ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and the almost ballad-like ‘The Dark And The Light’. Familiarity will arrive during the first half of the second disc, which sounds closest to Anacrusis’ dark and complex Thrash sound, before moving toward a somewhat more melodic final act. Of course there are a few exceptions, but that seems to be the general grid.

While Nardi wrote almost all of Anacrusis’ material, his brilliance has never shone through as much as it did here. He plays all the instruments himself and wrings everything that he has out of his voice, screams and whispers in deed. Anacrusis bassist John Emery contributes to a few tracks and according to the liner notes, drummer Mike Owen had a significant role in arranging some of the drum computer parts. I wouldn’t be surprised if the drum sounds were samples from his kit. Regardless, ‘Dancing With The Past’ is a work of art that shows how versatile Metal can be. Recommended even to those unaware of Anacrusis.

Recommended tracks: ‘Submerged’, ‘Creve Coeur’, ‘The Scarlet Letter’, ‘The Dark And The Light’, ‘The Runt’

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