I found this next band again off the website Progarchives. At the time, their album was newly released, and was one of the most talked about albums on the entire site. I immediately felt like I had to listen to them since so many of my peers felt so strongly about this album. After a search on Google, and sifting through many other artists with the same name, I finally found the band Anubis.
To my pleasure, I found out that Anubis is a progressive rock band from Sydney, yet another Australian rock band to add to my repertoire. The band consists of Robert James Moulding on vocals and bass guitar, David Eaton on keyboards and guitar, Douglas Skene and Dean Bennison on guitar, and Steven Eaton on drums, along with a several additional artists to support. Falling into the genre of progressive rock, Anubis has released three albums, their newest album being “Hitchhiking to Byzantium.”
Clocking in at almost 80 minutes, “Hitchhiking to Byzantium” is one of the longest albums in my iTunes Library. I love longer progressive albums, but sometimes get scared by them as well. I get afraid that artists may waste too much time on their albums, trying too hard to doodle around in order to generate a longer album, and spending less time on developing a coherent concept. This album does not fall into this category; each song is extremely high quality, with a impressive array of instruments and sound effects. Added to the musicianship of the band is the concept they deliver through the album.
When thinking of this album, I cannot help talking about this album more as a book or movie than as music. The feeling of each instrument is not only auditory, but is also felt emotionally and mentally. The use of multiple guitars adds power to the album, varying from heavy palm-muted riffs to high bent notes, notably in the song “Blood Is Thicker Than Common Sense.” The drums are authoritative, with each hit clearly purposed and planned to help develop the overall theme. The drum work in “A King With No Crown” is great, using drastic hits on the snare and cymbals. The keys act as the glue for the album, holding not only the songs together, but also holding the listener in their emotional state. This album would not be the same without the keyboard.
As much as the instruments help tell the story, the lyrics and overall composition add to it. Unlike their previous records, “Hitchhiking to Byzantium” doesn’t consist of a concept or narrative per se. According to Dean Bennison, he says of the album:
“It’s about growing older and trying to do better at things… and about the excuses we make for ourselves, all the crutches and braces that we find for ourselves along the way, and how good and bad they are for us.” (source)
With such an introspective idea for this album, Anubis succeeds musically in illustrating its concept. The album contains many upbeat moments with powerful guitar solos and soaring vocals (“Dead Trees” and “A Room With A View”), along with moments of obviously pained lyrics and vocals set to keyboard-heavy riffs (“Crimson Stained Romance” and “Silent Wandering Ghosts”). The mood set by the band forces the listener to be emotionally invested in this album. I remember my first listen of this album, that upon the end of the final song, I didn’t realize that the album was over, and that I had been sitting on the ground with my eyes closed for nearly an hour and a half. The effective use of the band’s story telling and emotional support is amazing, as one can feel the mood set throughout the album.
As much as I have praised prior reviews as being “a listening experience,” Anubis’ “Hitchhiking to Byzantium” truly is an experience of sound and mind. I urge all those who listen to progressive rock, or who enjoy a good story or narrative, to listen to this album. This album is a piece of art, and should be heard by everyone.