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Anfel - Icy World

Anfel - CD Review
Icy World

Anfel Icy World



CD Info
Chrysella Records
12 tracks
English lyrics


It’s certainly interesting when life presents a sound track for other activities occurring in your life. I’d been reading “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by the Afghan writer Khaled Hosseini, clearly one of the darkest interpretations of life I have ever been exposed to while listening to this release. Both are beautiful, haunting and riveting. Can’t take your eyes off the pages, can’t turn off the iPod. But, both present an interpretation of life that clearly takes a dark road, a road that this type of music is perfectly suited for. Anfel caught my attention early on, there was an association with another Russian sound I have always been attracted to, Blackthorn; Russian witches from Moscow. Blackthorn has evolved from a relatively Gothic sound to a more Gothic / Death metal sound with the last release, the vocals taking a turn to the current harshness with the two principle vocalists going Death metal for much of the release. Well, Blackthorn is represented here; guitarist / keyboardist / vocalist Elvira Achemida is featured as the guitar player on this release. That’s good enough to get my attention. The main dude here, however, is Denis Lobotorov who does a bunch of things; bass guitar, composer, death vocals and putting it all together. There’s a fine femme metal vox; Viktoria Belchenkova who does nothing to detract from the musical excellence we get with this release. But, this music is classified as Gothic / Doom, not something you get every day from Russia. And, damn, this is as fine an interpretation of the concept as I have heard.

Well, I want to talk about the music but I also want to talk about the lyrics, something I tend to focus on with the music that attracts me. And, it may be the lyrics that drive this release. The Hosseini work I was reading at the time drew it’s inspiration from a poem about Kabul from the Afghan poet Saib-e-Tabrizi in the 17th century:

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

There is a similar treatment to the lyrics of Icy World; the Russians have a solid ability to look at the darkness and provide a beautiful interpretation to that concept. That happens here. Of course, it would be meaningless if the music didn’t also capture that emotion. Somehow, I just don’t hear One Direction or your typical rapper giving this the interpretation it deserves. But, Anfel does, and they do it with style and grace.

Gothic /Doom is a specific musical style. There is a metal component, there is a beat to keep you moving on most tracks. But, there is a vocal quality that takes multiple directions. We talk about B & B, “Beauty and the Beast”. Rarely is it seen more often than in this style of music. The beauty on this release seems to predominate. But, the Beast is there, not often in the forefront, but it is there. Denis seems to take a back seat on most tracks but he is there, and it defines the music. He has some outstanding femme metal vocal to work with and, when that’s the case, let it shine.

Individual tracks make use of a variety of musical approaches. But, the lyrical work is consistent, it takes a dark direction both in vocal style and in lyrical content. Viktoria has an interesting voice, one that reminds me of some of the vocals found on Blackthorn. The first track is “Cry,” and we get an interesting introduction to the vocals. It starts softly enough, a sound from a child’s toy, but, as the soothing tone continues, the drums evolve it into a rocker. Viktoria goes in a haunting direction here, both vocally and with the lyrics:

Heartbeat and broken strings / Look around and you'll see
Come on, don't be afraid / We're splinters of life

Endless whisper of dust / Endless rain in our eyes
Where then did we belong / Or the ashes just burnt

There’s more than enough metal here, and it’s a consistent throughout the release. A couple of the tracks have videos so we get an introduction to the music. “My Truth and It’s Gist” and “Why" provide a solid introduction to the sound. The former is a darker, slower waltz, a more beautiful sound, one that utilizes the male death metal vocal at appropriate times. The later may be the best track of the release. Here we get the darkness in spades, this one screams from the grave. The sound is pure remorse, the message confirms this direction:

Why did you come into his destiny / And draw him into a ruthless game?
He became as a toy, But in misery / His love was the same.

Why did you turn his loving soul / Into a scene for the cruel play?
Why did you give him such role, / Which brought only one pain.

Good as the lyrics are, and I’m not sure who wrote them, the vocals do a solid job of delivering them. They are as dark as the Blackthorn material, just with a slightly different vocal quality. Some tracks are of a Doom oriented perspective; “In the Darkness of the Night” for instance. But, the girl can do the classical work as well. “Station of Sadness” provides some of the beauty on this release, over a string arrangement coupled with a keyboard sound. The message talks to the hopelessness found in life.

The creaking of wheels could not be heard anymore
Under the voice of the wind and rain / He stands here and remember so much
As he was waiting for you here

On this forgotten station / No one appears
He is alone with his hope / And waiting for your train

There are a variety of sounds delivered by Viktoria, some of them harder, some of them taking us to the Doom that defines the release. “In Black and White Dreams” takes the vocalist into those harder regions we get occasionally on this release. Again, the dark harsh vocals work with this sound over a variety of musical vehicles to provide something we just don’t ordinarily get in this type of music. Other tracks go softer, and with a more pounding ethereal sound; this is the Doom. “For Nothing” provides little in the way of hope, we are taken down an endless road, but one where the music makes it a ride that is more than worthwhile:

Once again, the vision returned / In your infinite quiet dream
Luck turned to death / And world was covered with ice fire }
for nothing / Your sorrow in the overcast window
for nothing / Pain and tears in the burning crepuscule
for nothing / your loneliness / Everything here is for nothing....
for nothing
Eyes closed, perhaps for ages, / Mouth was bounded by dumb sorrow
Don’t afraid, you're not a human now / You have never been by him, may be never

Anfel is a new sound, who knows what will evolve from this release. But, this is one to treasure if you appreciate this style of music. The Blackthorn girls do nothing to detract from the excellence, but there’s certainly more than just that. And, in fact, there are 4 versions of this music that will be soon released. Each with a different focus.

Musically, and in so many ways, this is “A Thousand Splendid Suns”.