July 15, 2008

Black metal therapists use change as a constant

In January 2008, Anagnorisis (pronounced Anne-Ag-Nor-A-Sis) founder and frontman Austin Lunn left the band amicably, and the remaining members turned what could’ve been a negative into a new outlook.

“When Austin left, people thought we couldn’t continue,” Zach Kerr, bassist of the Louisville band, says. “But we’ve worked harder, toured longer and recorded more since he left. With as much of an unstoppable force as we claim to be, we weren’t going to let a member loss slow us down.”

The band just released its debut Overton Trees, and it’s doing well, considering both Hot Topic and ear X-tacy, two retailers, have sold out of it multiple times. “We’ve been working on it for about three years,” Kerr says.

“Well, let’s say two years, because the first year, we scrapped everything we wrote.”

Recording for Overton Trees began last summer at Mana Studios in St. Petersburg, Fla., with Brian Elliott. Both the studio and the producer are iconic in the heavy metal industry. “Cannibal Corpse, Hate Eternal, Soilent Green, Goatwhore and a bunch of others have all recorded there,” keyboardist Sam Hartman says.

The album gets its title from its own genesis. “When our old singer, Austin, was going through a lot of personal stuff,” Hartman explains, “he would walk around Overton Park in Memphis and just write. Eventually, most of that ended up being the lyrics on this record.” 

The band has now been around four years and had several lineup changes, but there seems to be a lasting chemistry with the latest incarnation: guitarist Zak Denham, Zak’s brother and drummer Jake, and new vocalist Nathan Armageddon. Although they’re still looking for a second guitarist, “everything’s gone pretty smooth,” Armageddon says.

“Satan,” Zach responds with a wry smile, when he’s asked about the band’s influences, drawing a chuckle from Sam and Armageddon. “No, mostly we’re influenced by black metal,” Zach clarifies. “Bands like Behemoth, Nile, Necrophagist, Dimmu Bourgir, but we’re trying for a more well-rounded mix of black metal and death metal to allow for a wider audience.”

Listening to Overton Trees, it’s impossible not to be bombarded by the sheer intensity of the music. The riffs are thick, and bursts of apocalyptic keyboards and violent growls punctuate the band’s philosophy of … “Godlessness,” Armageddon says. “No spiritualism at all.”

“I mean, the aggression releases certain aspects of our personalities, but deep down we’re all a bunch of nerds,” Hartman says. “Music is a huge part of self-realization in all parts of our lives, but we’re not pissed off. In fact, privately, our outlook is pretty positive. It’s positive for us to say you can succeed without letting religion rule your life. I kinda like to think of it as holding a black metal therapy session.”

Fans have reacted warmly to the counseling.

“The metal fans here in Louisville have embraced us really well,” Zach says. “And it’s only getting better. The scene in Louisville is just now rekindling itself, but there needs to be some new bands that step up and just make straight metal again. There’s great music and culture in general here but we want to see it like it was in its heyday, with lots of bands that have the means to go on the road but still play around here a lot too.” 

You can catch Anagnorisis at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 21stst at Uncle Pleasants, 2126 South Preston St, 634-4147, www.unclepleasants.com. The all-ages show is $20. www.anagnorisismetal.com.