Aussie progressive rockers, Anubis, have released their fourth studio album, entitled The Second Hand. The new album is similar to its predecessors, being a narrative driven story concept laid over some technically complex instrumentation. The story is charting the downfall of an aging media mogul, James Osbourne-Fox. After a severe brain injury, he is left paralysed and imprisoned in his own body, contemplating the futility of his life and corporate success.
I am not normally a progressive rock listener, and I think the only real bands I’ve listened to, at length, in that genre are Pink Floyd, Yes, Tool and Opeth. Still, I was intrigued when taking in the link to the video Fools Gold and that is why we have ended up here. Defined as cinematic progressive rock, this nine track album is a ride that takes the listener almost 1 hour 10 minutes to get from end to end. Full of mournful harmonies that soar into melodic crescendos, crunching riffs, emotive keys, melodic licks and solos. All driven along by some really nice bass lines and versatile drumming, the album is definitely a worthwhile journey to listen to end-to-end.
Some of the highlights of the album:
The Second Hand is the opening track and it kicks off with a hospital scene that evokes memories for me, of I Remember Now from Queensrÿche. A nurse is asking James to open his eyes and we are introduced through various new clips to the tragic tale of James Osbourne-Fox to get a bit of his background – was it attempted suicide or a murder attempt? A keyboard intro gets the song underway leading into a distorted riff accompanied by the mournful singing of Robert James Moulding, from within the thoughts of James. The song ebbs and flows, dripping with emotion through both the music and the lyrics “Time ticks away, these memories, the darkest dreams are all I see. My legacy, of constant greed, won’t set me free, cause time ticks away”. The lyrics throughout the album are thought provoking and provide an amazing, well thought out story.
While Rome Burns – a jazzy track in its nature. The track starts off slow, driven by a walking bass line throughout the verses and then breaks into a chorus that is a real swing track in its nature. It continues to fade in and out in that fashion through the verses and interludes and choruses. The track is completed by excerpts from various news media clips playing over the music, citing the mogul’s use of the media to incite fear (sounds a bit familiar at times to today’s media agendas). It finishes, overlaying a funky solo before a final media clip of one male voice shouting out “What do we want?” and being answered by a group of females “We want freedom”.
The wonderful Pages of Stone which clocks in at almost 17 minutes, and this song is the crescendo of the album. James’ struggle is happening inside his head and the song is taking the listener through the roller coaster of emotions in James via a range of expressive technical indulgence and heartfelt lyrics. The song builds up the hope until the final point and realisation of the hopelessness sets in through the following lyrics:
“Eyes beneath the blindfold
As this cage becomes my home
Stripped from the towers of old
The fallen I’m called
Taken down from my throne
Seasons change, I am left alone.”
Robert James Moulding – Vocals, Guitars, Percussion
David Eaton – Organs, Mellotron, Piano, Synthesisers, Guitar, and Vocals
Douglas Skene – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Electric Sitar, and Vocals
Dean Bennison – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Slide Guitar, and Vocals
Anthony Stewart – Electric & Acoustic Bass, Moog Bass Pedals, and Vocals
Steven Eaton – Drums, Percussion, Glockenspiel, and Vocals
The Second Hand’ Track listing:
- The Second Hand (06:15)
- Fool’s Gold (6:33)
- These Changing Seasons I (4:20)
- The Making of Me (6:16)
- While Rome Burns (9:40)
- Blackout (7:45)
- These Changing Seasons II (3:59)
- Pages of Stone (16:45)
- These Changing Seasons III (7:22)
The Second Hand is now available through the Anubis Bandcamp website at anubismusic.bandcamp.com
Check it out. To me, it was well worth taking the journey.