Monday, 2 November 2020

Anubis - Anubis (2020)

Country: USA
Style: Power/Speed Metal
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 6 Jul 2020
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

It felt strange not being able to access my music library while my server was down. However, I shifted over to submissions and found a real gem in this second EP from LA based power thrashers, Anubis, which is a glorious way to return Apocalypse Later Music to regular activity.

I haven't heard of this band before, but they seem to be figuring themselves out. The core of the band seems to be Devin Reiche on bass and vocals and Robin Salazar on drums, both former members of a Pennsylvania band called Stagewreck. The guitarists keep changing but I believe it's Justin Escamilla and Tom Warner on this recording. The result sounds very tight indeed for a band only formed in 2018 and with two new guitarists this year.

They're fast and heavy but with everything rooted in melody, an approach that reminds far more of European bands than American ones. This EP sits firmly in the European heavy power metal tradition that grew out of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and especially the German bands that started putting out amazing material around the time of Powerslave, like Helloween, Rage, Gamma Ray and the rest. Like those bands, there's speed metal underneath everything that's put to service of the power.

It's really refreshing to hear this come out of LA, the hair metal heart of the country. Heavy power metal was always there, below the hairspray that floated over the city, and that reminds me that the legendary Armored Saint have just released a new album. I'd suggest that Anubis would be a fantastic support band for the Saint, but maybe they've already done that by now. The American band cited as an influence in their bio is Savatage and I can hear that, but Anubis are a lot less theatrical.

The biggest problem with this EP is that it's short. There are only three tracks on offer, one fewer than on Ashes in 2019, and they're hardly epics so the whole thing wraps up inside twelve minutes. I wanted it to keep going, because these three songs could easily have been the opening trio on a solid full length album. Ending here feels like that album was whipped off my deck, leaving me wondering about the other half dozen. Let's hope that this line up is stable and we'll see a full album soon. I do see that a third EP is due later this month, Hurricane of Hate, this one with four tracks, so maybe we can see it as a short album split into a couple of separate releases.

At least, for now, I can just play these three again. And again. For a while, my favourite song here was Everything Disintegrates because it kicks off with an unabashed energy that's impossible to ignore and it's the formative imprint of the band on my brain. Gradually, though, Sin for Me took over. Not only does it also feature Salazar's relentlessly upbeat drumming and the twin soloing of Escamilla and Warner soaring around me like mating dragons, but Reiche's vocal has an extra level that's not just performance but the product of excellent songwriting too. Prayer for the Prey isn't merely track three, because it's excellent in its own rights but it lagged a little behind the other two in my mind. After a gazillion listens, it's up there with the opener but Sin for Me remains the standout.

Anubis is available for a measly three bucks on Amazon, so it's a good way to check out this promising band ahead of the new EP on the 20th. And, given that they're only one road away from Phoenix, let's see how soon COVID goes away so I can see these guys live!

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