Since releasing their debut album Time Insults The Mind back in 2008, New Yorks black metal masters Black Anvil (formed from the ashes of respected New York Hardcore group Kill Your Idols) have honed their distinctive sound with stunning results throughout the next two albums the band released delighting fans and gaining plaudits aplenty and with their newest opus As Was, they up the stakes once more and have reached a point where their furious black metal assault attains a more melodic and epic nature while losing not one iota of their harshness or intensity in the process.
Opening with the majestic On Forgotten Ways, Black Anvil waste no time in stamping their intent with their music and this continues for the duration of the album. The band build on what they have achieved in the past but they are much more focussed in terms of the songs they have built and the results are are simply breathtaking for the most part.
The tracks on here combine sheer heaviness with expansive parts and and that melody which includes some stunning clean vocals but this doesn’t take anything away from the heaviness and in fact, only adds to it. The albums title track is perhaps the best example of this with an amazing vocal performance from singer/bassist Paul Delaney but there are so many to choose from that it is difficult to pick them out although the conclusion of Nothing has to rank extremely highly as does the song As An Elder Learned Anew in its entirety.
The centrepiece on As Was is the truly massive sounding Two Keys: Here’s The Lock, a sprawling epic with some truly vicious vocals intertwining with a focussed metal attack atop a bed of rhythms that again concludes in the most monumental way possible. The song is a joy to listen to and is aptly followed by The Way Of All Flesh which is a stirring and beautiful instrumental interlude that sets up the albums epic finale Ultra, a defiant but ultimately triumphant black metal anthem complete with vocals that are both venomous and haunting that sums up exactly where Black Anvil are at today and a perfect way to finish this album off.
Like Samael and Absu before them, Black Anvil are taking black metal into new and exciting places and As Was is the first step into the future for the band and the future looks bright with the material on show on this album, an album that shows a band hitting their peak and As Was is destined to be looked upon as a classic metal album in the years to come.