Distance & Devotion

Written by: AP on 25/04/2015 17:51:57

Having played over 450 shows across five different continents in the space of seven years, Swedish hardcore crew Anchor are a veritable touring machine, and with the aid of these adventures, a name most modern connoisseurs of the genre will be aware of. Renowned for their fiery straight-edge philosophy, it might come as a surprise to some that on this third studio album "Distance & Devotion", the band has opted to step away from the 90's vegan hardcore of 2008's "The Quiet Dance" and 2011's "Recovery", in favour of a sound more closely aligned with the Bridge 9 style of hardcore professed by the likes of Have Heart, Verse et al.

The ringing melody which introduces the first song "Upstream", the breathless shouting style of guitar wielding frontman Mattias, the energising riff upon which the chorus rides, and the self-empowering lyrics à la "I'll keep my head up high, I'll live before I die. Two words: live free!" should all be familiar ground for fans of those bands, and these central elements persist throughout the eleven tracks that comprise "Distance & Devotion", albeit with varied results. Anchor's general abstinence from the simplest d-beat drumming and their eagerness to season the songs with plenty of melody combine to make the effort accessible to listeners less versed in the foundations of hardcore as well, so that even if the fist-pumping rhetoric dealing with frustration, personal struggle and firm convictions grows a little passé at times, the dynamics and subtle, yet unmissable melodies in songs like "Survive" and "Out of the Storm" do their part in maintaining a level of intrigue so many of Anchor's peers seem to fail at.

Not surprisingly then, it is the most traditional pieces like "Into the Storm", "Losing Faith" and to a certain extent the aforementioned "Upstream" that prove the least interesting, and the occasions when Anchor unfold the full breadth of their muses that produce the most memorable moments of the record. Most prominent is without a doubt "Roads Unknown" with its low key, wave-inspired slow burn and gloom that makes no secret of the Swedish quartet's affection for Defeater, though neither the melodious "Hopes Die Last" (preceded by the masterful, tension-building instrumental intermezzo "Devotion"), which features a guest appearance from Ritual's Julian Laur de Manos, nor the already noted "Survive" & "Out of the Storm" are lagging far behind.

So despite the fact that on "Distance & Devotion", Anchor show flashes of the sort of brilliance that has the capacity truly to ignite their career as a band, there is still inconsistency to be uprooted here. It is entirely possible to shed the shackles of traditionalist hardcore without sacrificing the core values of the genre, and at least in my book, this is exactly what Anchor should focus on in future records. A message sounds all the more powerful and urgent, when delivered with a rich and engrossing instrumental backdrop.


Download: Survive, Out of the Storm, Roads Unknown, Hopes Die Last
For the fans of: Bane (on “Don’t Wait Up”), The Carrier, Have Heart, Verse
Listen: Facebook

Release date 06.04.2015

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