Sub-label Visceral Laments designed to release albums that are similar in style, but still non-doom metal. Formed in the summer of 2013.
Anagram to Anna “God, Me & Monsters”
Steven Cannon — Anagram to Anna (interview)
First of all, I am very sorry to hear about the conflict going on in your area... As I mentioned before, I have contacts in both areas and it is my sincerest hope that this gets resolved very soon, and with as little loss of life as possible...
Thanks for your participating but, unfortunately, we don't really have much hope that soon the clashes will cease and conflict will be resolved, because its root lies much deeper than some mighty people are eager to see.
So what's your take on the situation; as it seems now there's a conflict over higher gas prices coming out of Russia...
Honestly, at first I came across such an interpretation of the current situation in Ukraine. Perhaps because of this they say in your country, on TV and in networks? We live on the territory of the self-proclaimed Donetsk National Republic, so we have no right not to be aware of all events.
I can say that a very powerful Puppeteer was able to pull the right strings, which stirred up in our people the dark that had matured for many decades and easily pushed to the escalation of mutual misunderstanding and as a consequence – a full-fledged armed conflict. The seeds were in a very fertile ground for the most part of our country covered by the nationalist fever and prosperity, and erected on a pedestal only right national idea slogans "Hail our nation! Death to enemies! Ukraine is above all else! Ukraine is for Ukrainians! etc" This ignites all Ukrainian media, politicians, public figures, influential people, oligarchs.. Until I face: as our lands "save" the Ukrainian army and multiple battalions of mercenaries, we see only a destroyed town, burned lands and hundreds of corpses of civilians. While comprehensive lies and cynicism comes from the mass media, there's something that is not shown on TV as it is; all international organizations have turn a blind eye to the fact of real genocide, without exaggeration. Too ugly! We've been trying to be convinced that black is white ..
What is surprising to me about the album "God, Me And Monsters," is that your record label Visceral Laments says that this is a "power metal" oriented album, but clearly the record is firmly rooted in very dark and haunting gothic music, and I don't mean the poppy, metal band with a female singer, but REAL gothic music, of which I was involved in the scene for quite awhile, with bands like Sisters Of Mercy, Bauhaus, The Mission U.K., and others... Any reason why the label might have misrepresented the album's classification?
Unfortunately, I cannot say exactly why we have ranked precisely this style, we have not discussed how it should be called :) Perhaps this was done for the simplicity of perception and classification. Non oriented listeners are hard to take (to) a new style. So if the musical elements are metal+female vocals, with a high probability this will be either gothic or power metal. Of course I would not compare with power metal. However, I also can not uniquely identify our style, but call it the puzzle of the existing ones. Something is closer to the symbiosis of styles marked darkwave + gothic + doom + metal.
As far as the latest record is concerned, it's PROPER gothic oriented doom metal, of a type seldom heard anymore... There's definitely some dark and haunting melodies, as I mentioned before... What prompted you to pursue this particular style, and do you listen to many gothic styled bands?
I will say that I prefer to create something of my own, not going the already proven path. Since the beginning of the period when I became interested in music in general, not as a background but the way of reporting thoughts, I was attracted by many bands and styles; not only gothic, doom, and darkwave directions, but also all sorts of styles from classical to avant-garde. Most noticeably, before creating music, I listened to a lot of music, interested in new trends in genres and albums.
Also, some say that gothic culture and literature/music started around the time of the Victorian era, but more recently in pop culture in the 1950's and 1960's with such T.V. shows as The Adams Family and The Munsters... Now, I don't know if you agree with that or not, or even if you've seen those shows, what do you say?
I think the Victorian gothic culture and the gothic culture that's been artificially created nowadays - are two different things. Anyway, all that is created for fun, and can not carry the true sense of such a sophisticated culture. It can create images that form patterns of behavior, but can not force into human consciousness craving to comprehend the true dark side of the world and himself. As you rightly named it – it's just pop (popularized) culture.
When I listen to the record, I am rather astounded because your voice sounds like you have way more experience and years on it than you look in your photos!! I'm curious how you came to sing with a somewhat operatic style but still retain a very haunting and dark presence... It's one of the most powerful and diverse female vocals I've ever come across... Do you have any opera training? Sometimes it's hard to believe one person is responsible for all the different vocal approaches you do on the record!
I haven't had any vocal training actually. I have not graduated from a musical school, have not taken vocal lessons or something like that. Only flute lessons connect me with the music education. Singing for me is a hobby, a state of mind and mood. Perhaps because I'm not held by any academic or pop styles of singing, I can bring to my songs any vocal experiment.
Are you much into extreme metal? I know Candlemass had an operatic styled male singer from early on in their careers, and bands like Therion have flirted with operatic voices, but mostly it's an unknown commodity in the metal realm.
I am. I once started acquaintances with classic doom, and Therion in its time also left an indelible impression with its operatic fringed metal. I am most attracted by subgenres of extreme metal marked avangarde, symphonic, atmospheric, something in the spirit of Septic Flesh, Ihsahn, Madder Mortem. Oh and do not forget about the good old Empyrium, Tiamat, Moonspell, Saturnus, etc.
As unique as your style and sound is, do you think it's difficult after over 40 years of guitar oriented music to come up with anything original or groundbreaking in any genre? I am constantly amazed that metal bands continue to defy their genre and reach out and expand with new sounds...
I think that the more you listen to other music genres, the more you have ideas that can be implemented into the metal genre. After all, almost all musical genres (including metal first of all) have almost become obsolete, and without non-metal music injections we probably get what we can not distinguish one from another metal band. If you strictly follow the canons of the genre, which someone has formed before, you may not find your face, the unique and catchy. That's why we use anything to enrich existing styles through the prism of own music. Now many people have turned to this "trick" and we hear the influence of jazz, classical, electronic and folk music inside extreme metal works. It allows you to add more "atmosphere" and, if you say, "soul," into his creation.
So the album title "God, Me And Monsters," how does it all tie in? Sadly I don't have a lyric sheet but would love to know what your thoughts on the title are.
First of all, the album title binds the songs thematically. Lyrics are interconnected and weaves the narrative thread about the search, finding and struggle against internal and external enemies. Briefly, the essence of the problem is how your ego can be both some divine creatively-destructive and some monstrous destructively-creative force for himself.
I am assuming that you write all the flute and keyboard parts, but you have a guitarist in the band. How do you convey to your guitarist how to come up with riffs or guitar patterns for the album?
All guitar and bass parts we created together and together we put them into the concept of the song. So difficulties with mutual understanding of what it should eventually it look like, did not arise. Sometimes firstly guitars parts appeared, on which the rest instruments relied later, sometimes keys, or just unplayed melody gradually transformed into instrumental incarnation.
So is Anagram To Anna a live entity? I am assuming that for you to play live you would also require the services of a drummer...
... and one more guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and back-vocalists : ) But seriously, while we have not had an opportunity to perform as a live entity, in general we'd like to adapt the songs so that will require a minimum of people on stage, but without pre-recorded tracks.
On that note, the liner notes don't mention how the drums were done; I am wondering if they were pre-programmed, but I am unable to tell...
In the album it's indicated (a) session drummer. In the beginning it was an idea to make preprogrammed drums, but then after experimenting, we decided that it wasn't the thing we wanted to get as a result, so our friend helped in recording the drum parts.
So how did you come to the attention of Endless Winter Records? It must make you proud to be the first band on their new sublabel Visceral Laments.
After a hesitation, at last we decided to release an album and began searching for the label. We sent a record to several labels and almost immediately Endless Winter responded. And since our music does not really fit into the concept of the label, the owner decided to create a sublabel, which would release such atypical doom bands. Undoubtedly being the first is (an) honor :)
I haven't seen a lot of press, but the few things I have seen written about the project were pretty positive. Have you seen any press or done any other interviews?
Yes, I've seen comments and reviews – mostly positive, that is good ;) Such a wide-ranging interview like this one is for (us) the first time.
So what other women in the realm of heavy metal do you admire? I know there are very few extreme female vocalists, though I do admire Dana Duffey, who pioneered one of the first all female doom/death bands in Mythic. Plus, Sabina Klassen from Holy Moses is still doing her thing, almost death metal like thrash since the 80's...
I never make idols from anyone. Therefore, to say that I admire or idolize any representative of (the) musical industry would be wrong. First of all atypical interesting voices or methods of execution always arouse interest in me. Extreme female vocals cause no more emotions than male; I do believe that the extreme singing style has no gender.
Do you listen to death or black metal at all? I know there was a lot of craziness perpetuated by the Norwegians in the early 90's, but many Russians and Ukranians have done amazing things with black metal, especially bands like Nokturnal Mortum, Raventale, Zaklon and the like...
I am familiar with many bands of these areas. But too I can't say that I'm a fan of classic death or black. I love music more complicated and multifaceted, devoid of conformity of specific styles. Like "something" with splashes of death or black, for example "depressive black," "doom/death," "atmospheric death," etc.
So now that the album is finished and out, are there any plans for another record? Any themes, song or album titles you can let us know about?
There are ideas, there are drafts, there is a desire. Unfortunately we do not always have time for their implementation as music is not our main occupation. There was an idea of a small shift towards acoustic, focus on a more active use of flute and acoustic guitar. But perhaps this wish will not come to life, and we would move towards something else.
The record definitely deals with some very sad themes; loneliness, depression, abandonment and also some haunting and dark matter as well. Do you have any spiritual or religious beliefs? I am not sure how widespread christianity is in your country, even though I am not a fan of the religion (to put it mildly).
To be honest, I'm an atheist and a skeptic in many things concerning spiritual practices. Perhaps the mention of "God" and "soul" in my songs may mislead (some) to thinking about some religious overtones, but their meaning is somewhat different in this case. As one example – "god," as one of the guide levers of our own consciousness in the construction of their relationship to the world.
What does the band name Anagram To Anna represent? Obviously your name is in the band title, and of course I can see in one song 'Dog's Soul Carnival' where the word dog can be transposed for god...
You're right :) As some of the letters can build words that are different in meaning (dog-god, monster-mentors etc), so the same words and actions can have different meanings and implications based on who will analyze or implement them. Transposing words (dog-god) for me has a special meaning: as a clean, open, not burdened by the human dirt, dog's consciousness is close to the idyllic picture of thinking of a human being as close as possible to the realization of his "god within."
A final question I have for you; I have been asking many bands, and wonder if you have any thought on where we go after this physical life is done? I know many religions have different ideas on what happens after we die; still some of those seem quite far fetched, yet we still have that inborn nature that we don't really want to die. Some people don't even really want to think about it much...
Because of my religious beliefs, or rather their absence, I do not believe in the existence of the afterlife as such that's described variously in different religions. But I do not reduce the value of a single human life from the point of view of the Universe; I.E. each of us definitely fulfills his role in the web of events. And after death we become a mix of what we put ourselves in life into. And the less you interact with the world, the less you have left in it after death.
Vibration of Doom Sept. 2014
Mourning — Anagram to Anna “God, Me & Monsters”
Gli Anagram To Anna sono la prima band entrata a far parte del roster della Visceral Laments, sotto-etichetta costola della più navigata Endless Winter, dedita a produrre album che appartengono al mondo doom, ma non di natura funeral o estrema in genere. Il duo ucraino formato da Anna (voce, tastiere e flauto) e Aleksandr (chitarra e basso) debutta con "God, Me & Monsters": una prestazione ascrivibile internamente al filone sinfonico, tuttavia ben lontana dall'esternare le proprie sensazioni tramite voluttuosi gorgheggi vocali e soluzioni zuccherose o particolarmente voluminose nelle costruzioni tanto di moda odiernamente; pensate agli Epica, ultimi Tristania o ai Within Temptation.
Il suono è distante da qualsiasi forma di strumentalizzazione commerciale, al contrario è costantemente cupo, pesante e in varie circostanze si ha l'impressione che il feeling rilasciato dai pezzi sia similare a quello insito in progetti in cui il cadere verticalmente verso il vuoto trascinati da più ombre è una costante; un po' come avviene nelle canzoni di Leandra (Ophelia Dax) o Emilie Autumn. La band si muove su di un territorio discretamente vasto, alternando frangenti eterei ad altri che pare vogliano schiacciare la speranza, passandole sopra come un rullo compressore, e altri ancora nei quali la malinconia si pone in rilievo assumendo connotazioni grigiastre non così fitte, grazie all'uso della strumentazione extra-metal (flauto, violino e violoncello, probabilmente programmati) che la rende maggiormente languida. Su tali basi poi si va a poggiare il cantato di Anna, alle volte delicato e obliante, altre enfatico e ammaliante.
"God, Me & Monsters" è un album discretamente maturo e le canzoni che ne compongono la parte iniziale e centrale ("Inside Our Graves, The Silent Whisper", "The Perverted Consciousness", "Dog Soul Carnival" e "He Thought He Was God") confermano tale impressione, resta però da capire il perché odiernamente si tenda spesso ad allungare il brodo più del dovuto (come capita a esempio nella traccia conclusiva "Finally They Came") e soprattutto c'è da comprendere quale sia la reale direzione da intraprendere. Per quanto sia apprezzabile la mutazione in corsa, facendo fluire l'animo darkwave nelle composizioni, esso non è stato ancora del tutto assimilato, lasciando così alcuni sprazzi d'incertezza.
Tirando le somme, si può dire che sia gli Anagram To Anna che la loro etichetta abbiano mosso bene i primi passi e nell'attesa di vedere e ascoltare ciò che sapranno produrre in futuro, non rimane che tenerli d'occhio.
Aristocrazia Dec 2013
Dominik Sonders — Anagram to Anna “God, Me & Monsters”
The underground truly is full of curiosities, and the Ukrainian duo Anagram to Anna is one of them. With their debut God, Me & Monsters, released on Visceral Laments (a subsidiary of Endless Winter), they appeared out of nowhere with the apparent goal of shattering expectations and stereotypes and giving us all a headache, provided that we do not dismiss their work prematurely.
The curiosity already starts with their name: it sounds weird enough as it is, but once you learn that Anna is actually the name of one of the two members, it assumes an almost schizophrenic quality, especially since it is her who writes the lyrics. Why would Anna (keyboards, flute, vocals, programming) write anagrams to herself, and is Anna even correct, then? With all the talk about anagrams, perhaps she’s actually called Anna (or even annA?), not that it would make much of a difference. The next thing that strikes you is the cover. Against a striped purple background calling to mind the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks, it shows two rough, childlike sketches of matchstick figures: a human figure in threatening posture and the tiny caricature of a dog looking up at it. Twisted drawings in the same style can be found inside the booklet, and then there is the band picture which may well be one of the strangest in the history of Metal: the photographed faces of Anna and the second member, Alexandr (guitars, bass, programming), are printed on top of two matchstick figures with the dog from the cover (here with a real ‘face’, too) sitting at Anna’s side. (For all we know, this may well be the same dog whose vocal contribution can be heard in the barking sample introducing “Dogs Soul Carnival”…) All of this seems ostensibly dilettante and certainly not Doom, so you half-expect the worst when pressing the play button.
It was interesting to observe how, when I first listened to the album more closely, my expectation of amateurism suggested to me that there was an actual lack of maturity and vision. But when I tried to ignore all the peripheral details outlined above and gave it another chance, it suddenly presented itself as a quality release. Stylistically, Anagram to Anna are definitely not one of those bands you would play to your friends in an attempt to demonstrate what Doom is all about. They are among the relatively few bands out there which could qualify as ‘Symphonic Doom’, though their label describes them as ‘Symphonic Metal’, which is misleading since the music on this album is very different from what is usually marketed under that genre tag. All of the compositions are moderately slow, and the intentional absence of dynamic changes and marked climaxes is something you hardly find outside of Doom. The same is true for the surprisingly bleak atmosphere pervading the songs.
Classical string arrangements figure quite prominently, and most of the time you hardly notice that they are synthetic. Fortunately, a session drummer has been used for this recording, preventing the music from taking on too much of a ‘mechanical’ feel. The gloomy guitar riffs alternate between power chords and dual harmonies and seem to be influenced by British Death Doom. They are often understated, but never drown in the strings. Anna’s flute sometimes takes the lead, thus constituting more than just an ornament, but her voice (combined with her idiosyncratic lyrics) is perhaps what moulds the project’s identity most: it is less dominant than the more typical Symphonic Metal voices of singers such as Tarja Turunen, and keeps oscillating between classical and ‘pop’ techniques with a slightly stronger focus on the latter, but without ever fully manifesting either of the two extremes. The most striking thing about the vocals is that they avoid the epic, over-dramatised tendencies typical of most soprano singers in Metal, instead conveying ponderous and resigned unhappiness.
From my above descriptions, God, Me & Monsters must seem like a lighter, less doom-laden version of Omit with some nods in the direction of Avrigus, and you may be expecting a dreamy piece of Atmospheric Doom. But the fact is, everything about this record seems slightly ‘off’. Apart from its outward presentation outlined above, the most obvious indication of this is, again, the vocal performance which consistently remains a tad out of tune and sometimes wanders off into less conventional territory, not even trying to sound beautiful in any traditional sense. And as the melodic arrangements progress and seem to lull you into a safe cocoon of melancholic bliss, a vague sense of menace creeps in from somewhere just beyond your reach. This eerie presence can no longer be denied throughout the last two tracks when the bleakness increases and some strange squealing vocals appear in the background. The music evokes images of someone cowering in a dark corner, rocking back and forth in contemplation of some horrific, traumatic experience, always dangerously close to a total psychotic breakdown. Imminent insanity seems to be hovering above the songs like the Sword of Damocles, coming ever closer as the album progresses. Only after repeated listens, this impression can somehow be integrated into the general artistic concept with Anna’s lyrics and drawings, and you end up wondering about the mental state of whoever this Anna and her companion Alexandr may be. Just how exactly the dog fits into all of this is yet another mystery to be solved…
This aspect of insanity is what makes God, Me & Monsters a unique piece of art. It defies clear categorisation and rejects the stereotypes of Doom and Metal in general, and it does so with an ease that seems to stem more from a genuine detachment from reality than any kind of intended meta-message. Needless to say that this album will not be to everyone’s liking, nor will everyone acknowledge that it is Doom to begin with, but with Endless Winter selling it for such a low price that it couldn’t possibly cover their expenses, there is little risk in giving it a try. At the very least, it should prove an interesting discovery for those on the lookout for underground curiosities. Just be sure to keep your dog leashed when the monsters appear.
Doom-metal.com May 2014
Luke Hayhurst — Anagram to Anna “God, Me & Monsters”
There is a very cliched Gothic piece of cover art for this release, that’s always a worry and often leads to unimaginative musical offerings.
Hailing from the Ukraine comes a symphonic Gothic/doom duo called Anagram to Anna and features vocalist/keyboardist/flutist Anna along with guitarist and bassist Aleksandr. God, Me & Monsters is their debut album, released through Russian label Visceral Laments, things get under way with Obscure Me and sees Anagram to Anna begin in a slow, sombre fashion and they rarely leave that groove over the course of the entire album. Musically Anagram to Anna are a soothing, well performed entity of graceful flowing flute tones, operatic synth play and beautifully sung vocals that remain mellow for the most part but which rise in power when the moment arises. On the flip side of this the bands drumming is precise and keeps the bands sound at a sluggish, cautious pace whilst the bands riffs are cold, dark and foreboding. There really is little to criticize when it comes to the technical side of the bands performance.
My criticism comes in that until track five entitled He Thought He Was God, the band make no effort at all to increase pace or intensity and so the first four tracks which span a good half an hour literally stroll by in a procession of bleak landscapes that differ very little from each other. He Thought He Was God is a blessed relief and finally sees Anagram to Anna up their levels of urgency and inject this album with some much needed intensity, the result being a very atmospheric and passionate tune! Yet Light that Deceived Me, the albums penultimate track reverts back to type and the album finishes in a similar fashion Finally They Come.
Don’t get me wrong the album itself is sublimely performed and casts a wonderful haunting atmosphere. This duo really are superb musicians and Anna’s voice is stunning. Yet their lack of drive makes them sound like any other symphonic/female fronted band, Draconian for example but without the diverse nature. This is a debut album and I hope the band take on board what I’ve said because the potential to be superb is there!
Destructive Music Feb. 2014
Steven Cannon — Anagram to Anna “God, Me & Monsters”
We welcome our brand new friends and partners from yet another Russian record label known as Endless Winter... We are indeed extremely honored and grateful to be able to showcase the very first release on Endless Winter's brand new sublabel, which, like the Solitude Productions/BadMoodMan Music co-op, is designed to showcase those bands outside of the "norms" of the doom metal genre. However, I wasn't expecting to be completely overwhelmed and taken in by this band. Right off the bat, the main front WOMAN, Anna, sounds like a voice out of the dark Victorian era. Folks, there's your whole talk of gothic metal with your Nightwishes, your Sirenias, your Tristanias; trust me, NONE of these bands know what TRUE gothic music is all about. THIS band not only KNOWS the true dark, eerie and haunting essence of the gothic genre, they have far surpassed the limits and boundaries of the goth genre. If you want to hear TRUE gothic overtones in music more akin to horror movies and graveyards rather than pretty flowers and makeup, then THIS is the band that will set you along the right path. Light bell notes, flutes and cellos start the album off, and I must say I haven't heard symphonics this rich and enveloping in quite some time. The star of this show is Anna, who looks a lot younger than she sounds, MUCH younger. Her voice far surpasses her years, and her mastery of a wide range of emotions, styles and atmosphere makes this album that much more amazing. One minute she can be near operatic and beautiful, the next minute she's near whispering or singing in very dark, occult like low tones. Her ability to weave in and out of emotions and "colors" makes these songs a lot stronger than they normally would be. The other "star" is the mixing of what I call "Victorian era" symphonics with doom metal guitars and heavy riffing; at times these songs resemble a doom metal waltz, if that makes any sense. The opening cut 'Obscure Me' is an amazing standout track, starting the album off well. There's a sadness in the lyrics and Anna's tone that paints a true hurtful sorrow, and not some whiny emo-goth crap that's infested the scene these days. When you hear Anna sing in sinister, low tones, that's the followup 'Inside Our Graves, The Silent Whisper,' you know she ain't singing about pretty flowers and frilly dresses. 'The Perverted Consciousness' has a doom metal feel about it, but with the pianos, cellos (or is it a violin? I can't tell), flutes and the beautiful but not overbearing singing, this is SO much more than the "symphonic metal" tag this band received from the label. The multitracked vocals at times sound like haunting ghosts trying to escape their fate. 'Dogs Souls Carnivale' was another standout track, though there are some odd instrumental moments. The female "ghost chanting" once again hits you the strongest here, especially when the music drives that point home so viciously. 'He Thought He Was God,' yet again floors me. An ethereal sadness permeates the setting of this track, and for an 8 minute piece, there's great instrumental and vocal variety. Yes, these songs are quite long, folks, which presents a tad bit of a problem on 'The Perverted Consciousness,' as it's a straightforward doomy affair that doesn't deviate much, and CD ended 'Finally They Came' at 10 minutes was just a bit too long. Still, that CD ender is one of their heaviest and overwhelmingly doomiest, complete with tortured screaming soul voices (witches shrieks can also be heard in places throughout the disc) and heavy & dark doomy guitar work. The flutes, as cheesy as they may seem ideologically, work extremely well, especially in parts where the music might seem a little too "light" or "fluffy." Sorry can't find the proper words on this, but believe me when I tell you, it's a band like this that comes out of nowhere and rightly places themselves in the top 5% of bands worldwide that DARE to unstring the binds of what conventional genres defines are it's limits. There's TRUE gothic music in here, doom metal, darkness, beauty, darkwave, symphonics, and ALL of it presented in such a MASTERFUL and PROFESSIONAL way, I'm convinced the main two players A. worked a VERY long time to perfect their craft and B. are many, MANY year veterans of the extreme music field. Overwhelmed am I...
Vibration of Doom Nov. 2013