Anubis - Official Website

Dark Paradise

United States Country of Origin: United States

Dark Paradise
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Buy on: Bandcamp
Type: Full-Length
Release Date: February 23rd, 2024
Genre: Power, Thrash
1. Venom And The Viper's Kiss
2. Heartless
3. Priestess Of Dark Paradise
4. Fallen
5. Devour
6. The Uncreated
7. Symbolic
8. Strife
9. Thy Frozen Throne

Review by Greg on March 25, 2024.

Helmed by Devin Reiche, who also plays bass in long-standing, if average, San Francisco thrashers Hatchet, Anubis is a new rising force disguised behind quite a common moniker. Their fresh debut Dark Paradise doesn't bear the most original of titles either, but offers plenty of reasons to stay, from the infinitely cool colour scheme of the Dechristianize artwork, to encouraging advance singles.

Now, the band is advertised as power/thrash, but there's a noticeable emphasis on the latter component. Basically, if you dig something like Persuader, but want to hear somebody going for a similar route without the obvious Blind Guardian influence, Anubis is guaranteed to be your go-to stuff. I really dig Reiche's performance, arguably a match made in heaven for this approach: I'll be damned if his blue-collar, gravelly timbre doesn't remind me of Joakim Brodén or David Draiman at times (and I don't usually mean it as a compliment), but it's put to its best use, alongside some appropriate falsetto shrieks. The closest, if more obscure, comparison would be perhaps Thunder and Lightning's Norman Dittmar, who has a similar humble, muscular character.

Of course, an ulterior element of detachment from Sabaton is that, as said, this stuff isn't uplifting or similar, in the slightest – it's goddamn ferocious. Anubis go at full throttle at all times and no matter what, and I couldn't be happier. Admittedly, some instances might betray excessive enthusiasm, like how the aggressive verses of 'Heartless' feel a bit forced and clashing with the (this time) Sabaton-esque refrain, in what was fundamentally a slower number. 'Devour', which dates back to the band's first demo, even adds a pinch of harsh vocals, which is a choice that makes perfect sense in this context, just like Paul Gehlhar's less-than-rare blast-beats. The guitars of Justin Escamilla and Eleazar Llerenas are likewise energetic, with a topping of skilled yet melodic leadwork. Anubis sounds like a well-oiled singular entity, and I'm all here for it.

Dark Paradise also starts off on the right-est of feet: the title of opener 'Venom And The Viper's Kiss' is awesome, and still the least interesting thing the song has to offer, by a wide margin. Mainly a thrasher in its essence, disguised as power metal, literally every part of the song is memorable, and Reiche is all over the whole damn thing. It's really what everyone should picture in their minds after hearing the words 'power/thrash'. A perfect introductory song through and through. Now, the proverbial 'load blown too early' risk is tangible, but easily avoided, as the following songs clearly possess the same DNA, despite their different natures. It doesn't matter if it's 'Fallen' going for a more heroic style (and one can forgive its cliché piano intro, in light of the killer chorus that results) or 'The Uncreated' that could be the soundtrack for the next apocalypse: the quality mark over them is the same, and you can bet that they're also going to be simply infectious, whether you'll like it or not.

Okay, just like it usually happens with bands thriving on short, intense tracks, I was less impressed by the longest cut... which also happens to be a cover of Death's 'Symbolic', no less, and easily the biggest bone of contention. The idea of taking a song with non-melodic vocals and building whole new arrangements around it is an extreme rarity (although some may argue there must be a reason for it), and it's brave enough to be commendable, for sure. It's up to you to decide if it worked, but let's say that it isn't the track that's gonna win them the most fans – especially since it inevitably lacks the huge knack for melody exhibited on the other compositions, and feels like an unnecessary addition in the middle of the tracklist.

Luckily, Dark Paradise more than bounces back with the last two songs, the almost Trivium-esque 'Strife' and the closer 'Thy Frozen Throne'. The latter is a bit of an outlier, with an irresistible melody so simple I swear it could fit on a Christmas song, or maybe a stadium anthem, while also killing on constant Europower double bass mode. That guitar/keys duel in the middle even brings to mind DragonForce or Sonata Arctica of the days of old (hell yeah – remember when they used to write stuff like 'Blank File'?). This is the kind of hazardous stuff to put in your car stereo. Beware.

Dark Paradise is extreme fun and easily what I've been listening to the most throughout these early stages of 2024. It might not come without its venial sins, and the Death cover is admittedly a huge question mark on the whole release. Part of me wants to avoid getting carried away with enthusiasm and subjectivity, but that same part of me also can't stop humming 'Venom And The Viper's Kiss' at seemingly any time of the day since it was released. Fuckin' great stuff.

Rating: 8.4 out of 10