Australian proggists Anubis have already carved a niche for themselves in the ever-expanding world of nu-prog, and, whilst new album Homeless won’t do anything to destroy what they’ve already achieved, it’s nature and content might well frighten off a few of their more stern-faced and prosaic accolytes.
On Homeless Anubis have decided that the very un-prog tenet ‘less is more’ might be worth exploring. There are three songs on the album that are under four minutes long, meaning that there’s an urgency here often missing from artists in the prog field. That said there’s nothing unfinished or malformed about those tracks, and Anubis prove to themselves and us time and again on this album that they are masters of brevity, as well as the longer form.
Sumptuous single Home is perhaps the best exemplar of the ‘new’ Anubis, even if it does itself weigh in at over five minutes in length. Built on the signature drum avalanches of Steve Eaton (and yes, the Phil Collins style he uses does split listeners down the middle, even though it suits the music perfectly) and sparse guitars, the song relies on the fragility of Robert James Moulding’s fine vocal and some inventive bass patterns to build beautifully a la late eighties Rush. It’s enticing stuff, beautifully thought out and faultlessly executed.
It’s not all backwards-looking, however; The pulsing title track has a much more modern edge to it, to the point where you start making comparisons to names like Caligula’s Horse, whilst the jazzy tones of the solo prompt thoughts of Plini et al.
More superb lead work ushers in The Tables Have Turned, the album’s most appealing track. Moulding leads from the front with another convincing vocal performance, but not far behind is Douglas Skene (you’ll remember him from his work in Hemina) who once again proves what an accomplished lead guitarist he undoubtedly is.
Closing track Gone is another highlight, a languorous trip through the emotional side of prog that again shows how well the band control the ebb and flow of a song, building up and breaking down the intensity to provide a delicious end to proceedings, albeit one that leaves you wanting the song to go on for a couple of hours more…
Anubis never deliver bad music, but with Homeless they’ve stretched their own field of operations just enough to suggest that there’s more to come from this band in the future, and not just in a ‘pure prog’ sense. I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next…
Homeless is out on March 10th.