Album Review: Anchor - 'The Singles Collected'

26 March 2011 | 2:39 am | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

A solid release of intense, politcal hardcore featuring hard-to-find material

Anchor is name that is synonymous with heavy, intense metallic hardcore, and also a name that is not heard often enough on our sunny shores. The band hail from Sweden, forming in 2007 and featuring former members of Damage Control and Set My Path. Anchor are famous for their work ethic, touring nearly constantly to spread their brand of straight-edge, vegan hardcore across the globe. On an Anchor release you aren't going to hear standard lyrics about sticking together with your mates or other generic slop, this is a band that is politically active and has something to say. One of the best parts on the record is on the first song, Atlantis, hearing frontman Claes stating, almost spoken word "there is no solace in hating the world, and there is no redemption in repeating what's old."

The album title is somewhat misleading, as rather than a collection of singles, the album is three releases (a split and two EPs) included in their entirety. The first four tracks are taken from the Relations of Violence EP, track five and six are culled from The Kind That Kills split, and the last five songs are from the Captivity Songs EP. The album is available in vinyl format, coming in limited pressings of red, black and blue. The release also includes a digital download coupon.

There are moments on this record that don't sound too far off from the direction Carpathian have taken with their recent material, with distortion soaked melodies coalescing over one another and a relentlessly grim vibe throbbing out of the speakers. Anchor take a somewhat more metallic approach than our local favourites (who toured across Europe with Anchor in 2009) with some riffs on this release no doubt taken from the old-school metal book of rules. Check out the mid-section of Far Above for one of the most slamming riffs ever laid to tape. Expect plenty of chugging down-picking and fast thrashy verses mixed in with droning, doomy sections. The vocals are mostly comprised of throat shredding shouts and barks, but Claes keeps things varied enough that his harsh vocals are never grating or repetitive, and his lyrics and intensity of delivery make him stand out among other frontmen.

With compilation releases there is always the question of the motivation of the release, whether it is merely a record company cash-in. This album I believe is an exception, given the release is comprised of material that may be out-of-stock or hard to find. The songs off the Relations Of Violence EP and Captivity Songs generally outshine the songs off The Kind That Kills split, largely because of the muffled production on the songs featured from the split. The production is raw, but doesn't detract from the experience otherwise, and the album flows together nicely despite being a compilation. If you want the consistent sound of an album, look up The Quiet Dance, Anchor's excellent 2008 release. If there are any complaints to be made, it's that The Singles Collected features absolutely no new material, live tracks etc., so if you have already acquired all of Anchor's releases there will be nothing for you here.

If you are a stranger to Anchor's savage, metallic hardcore, then this is a good place to start. Even if you are familiar with the band, this could interest you as it includes tracks from several hard to find releases. It includes a good cross section of Anchor's sound, spanning from fast, in-your-face punk, to droning ambience, through to heavy metal riffery. There is enough melody, albiet heavily distorted, running throughout to prove Anchor is far more than just pure aggression. All in all a great hardcore record, only slightly marred by the differences in production on the three releases showcased on this compilation.

1. Atlantis (Relations Of Violence EP)

2. Walls (Relations Of Violence EP)

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3. Violence (Relations Of Violence EP)

4. Vanity (Relations Of Violence EP)

5. Vengeance (The Kind That Kills/ Anchor split)

6. Hamnd (The Kind That Kills/ Anchor split)

7. It Kills You To Know (Captivity Songs)

8. In The Throes Of Passion (Captivity Songs)

9. Far Above (Captivity Songs)

10. Captivity (Captivity Songs)

11. Beyond Reason And Logic (Captivity Songs)