Anguis Dei – Angeist (Review)

Anguis Dei - AngeistThis is the debut album from Anguis Dei, a black metal band from Japan.

If you have a craving for old-school symphonic/orchestral black metal in the style of bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, and Cradle of Filth, then Angeist is one for you. Across 45 minutes Angus Dei transport me back to the early 90s more effectively than most any other bands I’ve listened to in quite some time.

Based on the second wave, Anguis Dei’s musical approach caters more to the symphonic side of the style than many bands that take influence from this era. Yes, the influences that the band favour for the basis of Angeist are ones that most second wave-influenced bands shy away from. Why? Because its far too easy to sound like pale imitations of these greats, so if you’re going to do it, you’d better be damn good at it. You’d also better be able to let your own personality shine through when you do it. Thankfully, Angus Dei are more than up to the task, and Angeist is a revelatory record in some ways; who knew that you could play music in the style of the masters mentioned above and manage to actually hold your own? Well, Anguis Dei clearly knew, and their debut album is confident in its own abilities and charismatic presence.

This is black metal that’s highly expressive and filled with orchestral grandeur. It’s black metal, of course, so there’s plenty of bite and venomous aggression here to satisfy fans of blackened intensity. However, what’s less common is the sense of feeling and emotive atmosphere that the band so effectively portray. Think of what the bands mentioned above did so well back in the 90s, and you’ll bend a good idea of what makes Angeist so good.

Alongside this there’s a well-developed theatrical side to Anguis Dei, one that goes beyond the aforementioned band references. I’m reminded of Peccatum, (and to a lesser extent Arcturus), in this regard, although I should say that this influence is not felt all of the time across the album. I also occasionally hear some elements that sound more like they’ve come from the first wave, (some solos, for example), as well as some parts that would be more at home on an early Therion album.

Wherever the various component parts come from, a lot has gone into this album too make it as enjoyable as it is. I can’t stress enough how shocked I am that this isn’t derivative crap. These are damn good songs in their own right, and the band should be proud of their creations. This absolutely won’t be to everyone’s taste, but as I was brought up on this sort of thing, I absolutely love it.

Anguis Dei have learned from the greats, but have developed a strong personality of their own. Essential listening for any fans of the symphonic 90s.

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