ANTISOPH - Antisoph
There is a German word that I really like that doesn’t really have an equivalent translation in English: Etikettenschwindel, which you might paraphrase as false advertising. I had to think of that word when I first listened to the eponymous debut album by German trio Antisoph. Their musical genre is described as progressive avantgarde black metal, and while the first two words truly make sense in the context, the black metal component is only very minor in their music. This is not meant as a criticism, but rather had me rejoice that this three-piece is not one further progressive / post / avantgarde black metal band as we have had just too many lately, with only few adding anything worthwhile to the genre.
Not so Antisoph, but then they are not really a black metal band, at least anymore. Formed in 2014 as a duo under the name Orb – which is a really unlucky name, considering there was a same named band that pioneered the ambient house genre in the Nineties – they released their debut album Craft one year later. Soon they grew to be a three-piece and changed their name to Antisoph, releasing this year their first longplayer.
It’s really hard to describe what I am listening to here. My first comparison is the long defunct German progressive metal band Annon Vin, but that must be a coincidence, as that band has been gone for about twenty years already. So mostly we get very busy guitar riffs full of little melodic details, with a just as industrious rhythm section keeping things moving along from the back. The vocals are rather high and melodic. The songs rarely adhere to your typical verse-bridge-chorus structure, making listening to the music an epic adventure. Occasionally the guitar delivers frosty rhythm sequences that still hint at a faraway black metal past, but in the end the band’s sound is best described as an avantgarde exploration of progressive metal music. If you want more recent artists that might have had an influence on these guys, try thinking mid-phase Voivod, later Sieges Even although Antisoph are definitely more aggressive, or also Virus but without the crooning vocals. But these are just maybes, because Antisoph had crafted their very own, original and unique sound.
Usually the songs are about five minutes long, with Hypnoroom at only a little over four minutes best depicting the guy’s sound. Distant Scream makes it to thirteen minutes and is proof that Antisoph are also adept at creating long tracks full of suspense. Ghostking is at eight minutes also a longer track, although the final fade-out minute makes it seem as if they just wanted this track to be longer than it actually is. The album concludes with the acoustic ballad Rejoice, a Radiohead-like ballad that is definitely not sounding as its title might suggest.
Avantgarde is the name of the game, and those metal fans that desire to discover new movements in a genre that is often and not unjustly considered rather conservative, might find here just what they have been looking for. There are only so many metal bands that went off the trodden path, and Antisoph from Northern Germany are therefore in the fine tradition of bands like Cynic, Thought Industry or the aforementioned artists. They may not have that much in common from a musical vantage point, but they will give you something to chew on that will have lasting effects long after you have stopped listening to it.