Ana Kefr - The Burial Tree
2011 Muse Sick Records
What the hell is “Philosophical Metal”? I must admit, it was a new term to me when I heard this is how California's Ana Kefr is described. I can only speak of this genre from my experience with Ana Kefr and their latest release, The Burial Tree, but I tell you, it is much more than just simply the music. Whatever you want to call these guys, they come across as a talented bunch of progressive musicians with the brains of a thinking man, and they are not afraid to throw an 18- second song or even a 9-minute epic song at you.
The band wastes no time getting the listener acquainted with their brutality by means of the opening track “Ash-Shahid.” Blast beats from hell and aggressive guitars match the guttural vocals. Singer Rhiis D. Lopez reminds me quite a bit of Randy Blythe from Lamb of God – which I find to be an attractive, yet hard to actually perform vocal style. Just when we are getting into the metal meat of this song, they show their progressive side with a sudden break into an almost funk drum and bass interlude. They are somehow able to transition into heaviness with a natural feeling of progression.
Don’t ask me what “Ash-Shahid” means, but I can offer this insight: Apparently, the band name Ana Kefr means “I am Infidel” in Arabic. I am assuming with other such song titles as “Emago” and “Monody” you may have to search other languages or obscure texts to find their meanings – or I could be totally wrong. Either way, I really enjoy the unorthodox naming of their songs. In particular, their previously- released single “Tonight We Watch the Children Burn.” That’s pretty damned evil, scary, fucked-up, and intriguing at the same time.
Throughout the album there is the constant undertone of death metal that seems to combine sounds from bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, Cradle of Filth and even Dream Theater by means of their song structure and usage of non-typical metal instruments. For example, they use an alto saxophone for the introduction to “Monody.” This song develops into further soundscapes featuring a female vocal performance followed by a black metal sound that could be from any major Norwegian black metal powerhouse. The song continues to ride the progressive wave with another bass interlude which is later accompanied by clean guitars and once again, an appearance by the saxophone.
In addition to being able to write some very interesting songs with progressive structure, Ana Kefr actually has talented musicians who can perform on their instruments as guitarists Kyle Coughran and Brendan Moore play some ear-splitting leads on “In the House of Distorted Mirrors” and “The Collector,” as well as solid and confident rhythms.
If having just a saxophone wasn’t enough for the progressive fans out there, they go on to include even more obscure metal sounds on “Thaumatrope,” as the song begins with an orchestral arrangement (not atypical for metal) but also what sounds like a clarinet. Just when you might think they are getting soft on you, these guys proceed to kick your ass with some brutally heavy music, followed once again with some syncopated rhythms. This band is all over the place, but they are able to successfully pull that off by producing a magical glue that holds the entire album together – and the best way I can describe it is just that “it makes sense.”
Another great example of their ability to not follow the rules yet make sense is the song “Jeremiad,” as it is only an 18-second piece that logically flows into the following track “Apoptosis,” a dizzying, unique song of organized chaos.
An accurate description of Ana Kefr is to call it an auditory trip. Like every band out there, their biography also calls their music “fresh” and “truly different.” Well, unlike most other bands, these guys can walk the walk. I can name bands that some of Ana Kefr's parts sound like, but I cannot think of a single band that comes in the type of package that these guys do. Their music is filled with a multitude of sounds from death metal to black metal to melodic metal and everything in- between.
It is like a giant mixing pot of metal, and music in general, and the final product is a new taste drawing the best from each of its ingredients. In addition to their music, one can not overlook their lyrical content and style. After reading their lyrics, you will gain a better understanding of what philosophical metal is. The lyrics are well-crafted and the band draws references from biblical stories and other spiritual thoughts. I would recommend checking these guys out if you want something new to hear or something new to read and ponder. The Burial Tree is a great release by Ana Kefr, who continues to spread their thought-provoking musical style across the globe.
Friday, February 04, 2011
Ana Kefr - The Burial Tree