I haven’t had anything similar on my musical plate for a while, so Anubis’ fourth album The Second Hand was an interesting, beautifully surprising and absolutely brilliant variation. Again Anubis mixes progressive sounds with cinematic elements top notch instrumentation with the addition of dynamic riffing and amazing vocals. The outcome is a unique sound that is quite inimitable and rare to find. How much you enjoy the new record will mainly depend on how you respond to this incredible mix and the singing style used by the vocalist. Anyway Anubis rules, especially at night.
The Second Hand is a concept album charting “the downfall of an aging media mogul, James Osbourne-Fox, who, after a severe brain injury is left paralysed and imprisoned in his own body and left to contemplate the futility of his life of corporate success.” The Second Hand is for sure full of emotion and humanity and the way the Australian band reproduces in music the story and the psychosis of the protagonist is wonderful.
As it’s the case with most concept albums, The Second Hand requires time and patience to be understood and to gain the listener’s estimation and it will reward open minded audience. Play it in the dark to fully experience its great music.
The album kicks off with the title song which sets the tone and the mood for the rest of the 9-track record. There’s something disarmingly powerful about vocals from Robert James Moulding that add incredible depth to a song. The intermittent piano notes are just perfect and the dramatic keyboard sound is like a nice shade of color you don’t notice on painting but that painting wouldn’t be the same without it. A great bonus.
“Fool’s Gold” starts exactly where the title track ends but adding a dark shadow to the overall atmosphere. There are still vocals but now are slower and they mix perfectly with the other instruments. The bass is gorgeous and the way the song turns into a more ambient and atmospherical dimension is great. It’s such a damn good track. “These Changing Seasons I” is a slow voice-and-piano piece that also perfectly fits the story and musically serves as an intermediary between the album’s parts. The album continues with “The Making of Me” which feels straightforward for the most part, with vocals leading the game on this one. “While Rome Burns” comes with an atmosphere reminiscent of Pink Floyd; slow synths-driven opening with guitar work influenced by David Gilmour, it certainly is one of the highlights here. “Blackout” is far more song-oriented piece in a classic intro-verse-chorus manner, but it also includes some of the best instrumental work during its almost 8 minutes.
“These Changing Seasons II” is another slow-burning piece with Moulding in the leading role, accompanied with the acoustic guitar strumming. The 16-odd minutes epic “Pages of Stone” is a centrepiece where the band absolutely gives their best. It includes everything crucial for the story: an atmospheric cinematic intro and perfect delivery by the whole band.
An album which engages on a variety of levels, with The Second Hand Anubis have delivered something of power, emotion and beauty and one which sets you thinking on a variety of different levels. More importantly it’s a cracking good listen (especially through headphones) and one which familiarity only continues to improve.
The Second Hand is available from Bandcamp.