Album review: Mord’A’Stigmata – Ansia

Ansia Genre: Avant-garde black metal.
Release date: October 29, 2013.
Label: Pagan Records.
Recommended to: Fans of ambient and progressive black metal; atmospheric doom; experimental prog metal; drone and sludge.

This is the kind of music your parents warned you about if your mom and dad were really stupid.

More perceptive parents might encourage their cuddly little 23-year-old children with black-and-white painted faces to listen to this album for its educational qualities. It presents a gripping, disturbing and magnificently moving sensation of what it must feel like to be a tortured soul writhing in the depths of Hell.

If your parents are hyper-intelligent, they’ll listen to this and shout, “Unholy non-gods! This is a splendid exploration of new directions in the darkest of metal!”

By the way, I’m a parent and I’m becoming more intelligent every day. My IQ has risen to 2.37. That makes me almost as brainy as Tiny Tiny Cakey Kitten, my grossly overweight cat, who slept on my desk all the way through Ansia. What more evidence do you need of just how hypnotic this album is?

It’s the third studio album by Mord’A’Stigmata, a cutting-edge foursome from Poland. When the band formed with a somewhat different line-up in 2004, they set out to create new approaches to black metal. The line-up for Ansia has upheld this mission. They continue to integrate diverse metal genres into their thoroughly experimental style of darkest black.

I had to listen to both of the previous albums, Antimatter and Überrealistic, a few times to get a full experience of what Mord’A’Stigmata is all about. (Actually, that was a darned good excuse for indulging my eardrums and not doing less enjoyable things.)

The guys in the band use tags instead of real names. There’s Ion on vocals and bass, Static on guitar and synthesiser, DQ on drums and Golem XIV on guitar. Collectively and individually, they demonstrate how much depth of technical prowess, creative skill and solid brain work is required to write, arrange and play fuggin’ good metal.

Mord'A'Stigmata - IonThe entire album has a vault-like resonance. Ion’s haunting, anguished vocals, backed in places by chanted incantations, become the voices of the damned. There are passages which are as slow-paced as funeral doom, darkened even more by bass fuzz and subdued but insistent synthesiser.

The orchestration achieves a different kind of counterpoint. The guitar and bass alternate in time signature, one playing twice as many beats to the bar as the other, then halving its pace while the other speeds up. The drums and synth do the same at perfectly planned intervals throughout the album. The synchronisation is masterful.

It feels as if the guitar and bass are constantly questioning each other. This instrumental dialogue builds tension to a peak, then releases it like a flow of freshly tapped blood. (Ooh, I do get melodramatic, hey?) The guitar soars away into the void… it’s a little like Pink Floyd in Purgatory. It almost breaks free but never escapes. The instruments all have too much of a hold on each other.

By now you may have gathered that this is not metal for moshing. It’s for introspection and contemplation. It’s totally absorbing.

When you play Ansia for your children, tell them this – after they’ve listened to the album, they may want to hug puppies and bunnies and love everyone. Mord’A’Stigmata awakens the self-awareness of human frailty and vulnerability.

Geez, did I write that too? Hey, I said this music is hypnotic.


Posted on December 4, 2013, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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