Black Anvil – As Was (Review)

Black AnvilThis is the fourth album from US black metal band Black Anvil.

2014’s Hail Death was a firm favourite of mine. They’ve now produced the follow up to this, and it’s great to have them back.

Black Anvil play black metal that combines elements of thrash metal with a more epic, expansive side. On As Was the band have progressed and developed their sound, enhancing their atmospheric side even more than previously.

The band’s core extremity is still intact, so lovers of aggression will still find a lot to like on As Was. What’s also here though, is an increased amount of exploratory, emotive content that shows the band’s increased complexity and sophistication, while still also allowing them to just let loose and melt some faces when the need arises.

This progression is quite extraordinary in some ways, although it shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise, I suppose, considering how good Hail Death was. The roots of As Was originate there, after all. What they started to explore and develop on Hail Death they have now fleshed out and expanded upon.

Here they have created something quite inspiring and impressive. This is sophisticated black metal that’s very cognisant of the past and the rich history of the genre, but definitely has its ambitious sights set firmly on the future.

Some of the playing on this album is wonderful to become absorbed in. The songs take the listener on journeys and travels they might not have even been able to conceive of without Black Anvil’s stirring guitars and triumphant songcraft.

As far as progressive black metal goes, (as that’s what this essentially is), this is a tour de force of how engaging and captivating the style can be. The songs on this album have been written by masters of their work, carefully balancing black metal’s cold dark heart with something more forward-thinking and complex. The music on As Was is a near-perfect blending of blackened worlds that has resulted in a supremely confident album of progressive music.

Impressive and essential.

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