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Anguish : Magna Est Vis Siugnah

Technically-proficient, but a little lacking in structured compositions: the latest full-length from Sweden's Anguish.

It must be tough for a Doom band coming from Sweden. The moment your name appears on the Doom "map", comparisons to greats of Doom Metal such as Candlemass and Katatonia are inevitable. It's hard to imagine that many new bands could eclipse the afore-mentioned in their respective fields so acts like Anguish always start on the back foot. Personally, I try to approach things neutrally because anything other than that approach makes reviewing very difficult. However, I have to confess that, as a long-time fan of all manner of Metal from Sweden, I was excited to have another excuse to foray into their plentiful scene once more at Anguish's expense.

Ironically, the very first impression I had of this release was not that they sound like a Swedish band but was more of a "this is a bit like Cathedral" musing. The trouble with that approach is that they're not Cathedral, of course, which means that the listening experience wasn't as enjoyable. Don't get me wrong - Anguish are no mugs. Technically speaking, they're an impressive enough band - the guitar-work alone is enough to prove such. However, they lack the "punch" that Cathedral always delivered so powerfully, which can make the music plod along just a bit too much. The best example I can think of at this moment in time is the song 'Jaded Entity', which is one of my all-time favourite Doom tracks. The vocals are ridiculously powerful and the song is structured brilliantly with a patient build-up before it erupts into a fantastic Doomy groove. To me, that's utter perfection in true Cathedral chaos format. I get the impression that Anguish have taken some of those elements but haven't taken them all which leaves me feeling a bit of anti-climax because the songs don't seem to go anywhere. The chaos is there but the finale is not.

Furthermore, Anguish seem to struggle to decide which vocal approach they want to use. I'm all for bands using more than one approach on a release but it's got to be done well and I don't feel that it is here. The vocals are often "shouted", which I seldom find to be a good approach, and although some of the growls are reasonable enough, it's hard to buy into this music because of the lack of direction within it and/or lack of memorable riffs/hooks. Even a somewhat "chaotic" approach to Doom Metal has to actually reach a destination.

In terms of lyrics, this is quite an interesting piece. The band appear to be pushing their religion of "Siugnah", and have done so for all of their musical existence. Religion/Mythology - solely as concepts - have always fascinated me and any band that takes the trouble to go into such detail in a decidedly esoteric one such as this certainly gets a thumbs-up from me because I appreciate their work ethic and creativity, irrespective of whether the band members are actually religious or not.

Still, my overwhelming impression from 'Magna Est Vis Siugnah' is that the band haven't really decided if they want to go down the Trad Doom or Stoner Doom route. Based on what I've heard, I think that Trad Doom would be better suited to Anguish's strengths but I still don't think they'd set the world alight in either sub-genre without working on their song structure more. There are some good elements, and I think Cathedral fans would associate the most with Anguish, although I have to emphasise that I am not necessarily endorsing such here because Cathedral are a much better band! I think the foundation is there for Anguish to build upon but as this is now their third full-length release, I am inclined to doubt that they'll ever reach their true potential.

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Reviewer's rating: 6/10


Tracklist :
1. Blessed Be The Beast
2. Magna Est Vis Siugnah
3. Of The Once Ravenous
4. Requiescat In Pace
5. Elysian Fields Of Fire
6. Our Daughters Banner

Duration : Approx. 52 minutes

Visit the Anguish bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-03-30 by Ian Morrissey
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