The Second Hand by AnubisRelease date: May 23, 2017
Australian progressive rockers Anubis are a band who sit firmly within that region of emotive music which crosses the line between the plaintive sound of Pink Floyd and the bluster of cinematic indie. Now on their fourth album, The Second Hand, they return to the age old trope of the concept album with a narrative, which feeds into the at times explosive music.
Telling the story of an ageing media mogul who, after an accident, is left paralysed and imprisoned within his own body, left to contemplate his futile existence, you may consider it all a bit convoluted. At nearly 70 minutes long it does test your patience and you may find yourself drifting away from the main theme. Give it some due listening though, and you’ll find a concept which works to keep your attention.
Although thematically it’s difficult to keep up, within the music you find a way to enjoy this album. Cinematic in not just scope, but in drive, the peaks and troughs of a film are recast within some wonderful playing. Particularly good are the plaintive guitar solos, feeding off a classic sound developed by masters of prog such as Gilmour and Rothery, and given new life here. They are moments which lift the album to another level and become moments of transcendent emotion.
Anubis can do heavy too and on the tumultuous end of ‘While Rome Burns’, the devastating centrepiece of the album, they bring a new heaviness to prog rock which only the metal maestros dare explore. Unafraid to raise the tempo, it’s fascinating to listen to the way the band use their music as a kind of soundtrack of emotion, rather than a classic style of songwriting. They may veer on the more predictable side of prog, but at least they do it well.
Whilst the album is a tad overlong and at times you wish they would calm down on the bluster, there is plenty here to excite prog fans. It’s always difficult to deliver emotional music such as this without veering into cloying territory and with a concept verging on the slightly pretentious, you’re edging towards dodgy terrain. All dues to Anubis for pulling this off in the main though, and if you’re willing to give it the time you’ll find plenty to keep you coming back. Pour yourself a drink, stick your headphones on, and lose yourself in the story for a while. You’ll enjoy it.