|Review: Ansur - Warring Factions|
Label: Candlelight Records
Year released: 2008
Genre: Progressive Metal
Review online: January 25, 2012
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
I reviewed Ansur's debut a while back and had intended to give their sophomore effort the treatment soon after. Alas other releases cropped up and I kept moving this towards the bottom of the pile. So almost a year later, here we go. Warring Factions was a massive step up in quality from their debut, and if I'm being honest I'm hard pressed to think of another album or band like it/them.
Whereas Axiom had a good foot in the black metal of their country, Warring Factions is akin to the band leaping out of their regional chains, spreading their progressive wings fully and creating somewhat of a flawed masterpiece. The band show next to no restraint as far as arrangements are concerned, cramming in a ton of influence, some of which is admittedly non-metal (see the middle of "An Exercise In Depth Of Field" complete with its country bumpkin jam out). Fortunately this never sound overcrowded, with every change being masterfully executed.
The sound is excellent, and the inclusion of saxophones gives Warring Factions quite the classy sound. 70's style organs are used to brilliant effect, as is common of the progressive genre, and the album succeeds in being genuinely progressive. I've racked up a fair bit of mileage with the album and with each listen I still find myself surprised by the changes, and of course the skill and conviction such a young band could employ.
Standouts among the crowd would include the stupendous "Sierra Day", where gorgeous acoustic guitars dance in and over chugging riffs, building into an incredible guitar/saxophone play-off towards the end. "At His Wit's End" gives a good indicator to the sound of the album, which is excellent in arrangement and really shows the band doing everything they do best. Warring Factions is way more melodic than their debut and as a result is very pleasant on the eardrums, I wouldn't say this delivered too much in the way of heaviness, but as the old axiom goes: this is thinking man's metal. (See what I did there).
I found Warring Factions to be an excellent release, and I also happen to know that this can be tracked down for very cheap. As a result, any fan of progressive metal really has no excuse not to pick this up, I'm serious, we're talking pocket change here. This is a truly progressive release, and I'm really hard pressed to think of anything that sounds like it, a genuinely interesting listen with a great feel and atmosphere. Recommended.
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