From the experimental days of early black-metal through the rise of death- and grind-metal subgenres, Sweden has always played an important role in the development of different styles and approaches to heavy music. On their sophomore release The Final Warning, Ænimus remains deeply rooted in the melodic side of Nordic heavy metal and borrows cleverly from both modern and classic influences, crafting a sound that is familiar yet distinctly their own.
Much of the band’s musical identity lies in the clean vocal stylings of their singer/bassist Anders Sevdin, whose massive range and ever-present vibrato bring a triumphant epic-ness to the album. He’s the sonic embodiment of Mel Gibson in Braveheart; the Scandinavian answer to Klaus Meine of The Scorpions. On songs like “For Every Voice” and “The Stone and The Sea,” Anders’ vocal melodies shine brightest as he deftly nails logic-defying high notes.
Instrumentally, the record is more akin to Gothenburg-style death metal acts like At The Gates and early In Flames; plenty of heavy riffing and melodic leadwork with hints of American thrash thrown in for good measure. Solid drum parts are prominent throughout The Final Warning, as are solos from guitarist Jesper Mattsson, whose playing ranges from pure shredding to the smoothly expressive interlude on “Battles Turned, Bridges Burned.” These guys seem really comfortable in their own skin, musically speaking.
The strongest songs from this album strike a nice balance between highly singable choruses and robust, muscular metal riffs as in the title track and “The Promise.” Occasionally straying into arena-rock territory, the band is content with using lighter passages to accentuate the sections that are really crushing. They make good use of instrumental transitions and show maturity in their writing.
In an effort to stay true to the origins of metal, Ænimus proudly professes that the album was recorded entirely without the use of a metronome and that drum samples – a central feature of most modern metal productions – were not used on the record. This approach has produced a rather ‘live’ sounding release that breathes dynamically and helps to further distinguish the overall sound of the LP. The drum tones themselves never suffer from this treatment and the band sounds very ‘together’ –the few timing hiccups created by this production style are easily forgiven.
While the absence of grinding, guttural vocals may dissuade some fans of typical Swedish metal, Ænimus have continued to polish their brand of heavy music, and have produced a really worthwhile follow-up to 2014’s This Illusion. I’m interested to see what 2018 holds in store for them.
Written by Mickey Ellsworth
*edited by Danielle Kenedy