NECROSAVANT - Aniara MMXIV
Few among us, outside of Sweden, may have heard of Harry Martinson, an author who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1974. This was followed by some controversy, as he was on the board of the Nobel panel and had endorsed himself, leading up to his suicide in 1978. In the mid-Fifties though, he released a science fiction poem titled Aniara which leads us finally to Necrosavant.
Jonas Martinsson is another Swedish guy I havenít heard of before. He seems to be most popular as the drummer in electro pop rock band Me The Tiger, but also has dabbled in post metal with Majalis. Therefore it feels quite unexpected to see him transform into Necrosavant, his blackened death metal alter ego which worked hard, with a crowdfunding scheme, to translate this over half a century old poem into a three-quarter hour long epic death metal song.
This could have failed quite badly, but even after my first time through Aniara MMXIV, I have to admit that you wouldnít guess that this is the artistís first foray into the more extreme world of metal. Influences are Behemoth, Decapitated and (early) Opeth, which all makes sense, although I also felt parallels to Dissection and especially Edge Of Sanity who twenty years ago were the first death metal band to come up with a really long song, in their case the forty minute monster Crimson.
Aniara MMXIV is a solo album, with Jonas Martinsson playing all of the instruments and also doing vocal duties, although he shares those with four guest singers. Especially the fact that Martinsson is a drummer allows for a very powerful and dynamic drum sound which gives the music more life that you usually get to hear on solo albums. Apart from that, Aniara MMXIV may be a rather classical piece of melodic blackened death metal, and while stylistically it may not reinvent the genre, the songwriting is quite intriguing, with leitmotifs recurring throughout the song/album, plus lots of atmospheric parts to lighted the tension between death metal attacks. I am especially grateful that Mr Martinsson makes it through the forty-five minutes without ever having to rely on kitschy symphonic or gothic parts.
Were this a regular song based album, I would have given Aniara MMXIV eight points thanks to the really mature songwriting skills, near perfect production values and a deft knowledge of the genre(s) the artist is using, but considering Necrosavantís daring sense of ambition, I even give his debut album one point more. Fans of sophisticated death metal brimming with atmospheric and progressive elements should be delighted by this majestic tour de force.