I recently ran into a guy with whom I used to hang in High School back in the Eighties. We were both really into Metal and as the decade progressed our tastes kept leaning heavier. He got me into a little-known band that actually recorded under the name “Death” (“Dude! The album’s called “Scream Bloody Gore” – you’re going to LOVE this!) and I introduced him to a new act called Obituary that I believed would never be bested as far as heaviness and brutality were concerned (two decades later I still cling to that observation).

We got to talking about those halcyon days and, interestingly, he revealed that he doesn’t listen to Metal anymore. I couldn’t believe it. I almost choked on a swallow of beer when he mentioned it. He’s more into experimental and avant-garde rock now because, in his mind, Metal stagnated and hadn’t been at all exciting in the past decade and a half. He wanted the style to continue pushing the envelope and grow increasingly more adventurous yet, in his mind, that stopped happening before the mid-Nineties. All the acts from that point onward possessed a stale lack of originality that pretty much ended his love affair with all things dark and brutal.

Now, I disagree with him strongly and let him know as much. I kept throwing out band names at him (Emperor, Opeth, everything out of Gothenburg, Sweden…) but he’s over it. And a lot of that sentiment has to do with two things, I think. 1.) He was never really as into “Metal,” per se, as much as the extreme nature of something that was (at the time) fresh and new and 2.) there are new Metal bands coming out each week and it’s almost impossible to keep up with all of them. Beyond that, many of them are just cheap imitations
of great acts that have come before.

Which brings me to Anima. Deathcore is still a recent phenomenon which isn’t as played out as most any microgenre that includes “-core” in its title and these five young German lads ranging (raging?) in ages between 17 and 20 are playing with a ferocity that merits admiration even as it comes across as painfully derivative. There’s nothing here that really stands out but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy the collection. While there’s a sameness inherent in this band’s approach I actually enjoyed listening to The Daily Grind a number of times so I guess I can’t give it a decidedly negative review. Even so there’s nothing in these nine songs which merits actually seeking out the CD and it’s doubtful I’ll be pulling it out for a spin again any time soon. As such I suppose I can’t award it with any sort of recommendation.

Acts like Suicide Silence and the Red Chord as well as Whitechapel have been making a convincing case for the validity of Deathcore, though as I listen to much of this music I’m waiting for something other than the obligatory breakdowns to shake up the monotony. I realize that Hardcore isn’t given to flashy soloing but hearing some proficiency in instrumentation that goes beyond the drummer’s penchant for nimble blast beats might make things a little less static. Anima certainly prove themselves able musicians and the glossy production helps tremendously but what they really need is a little creativity in their approach that will enable them to stand out amongst a growing list of similar acts.

With a running time of just over a half hour each track passes by rather quickly and vocalist Robert Horn keeps things somewhat interesting with low, Death Metal growls and high, Black Metal screams. The riffing by Guitarists Steven Holl and Andre Steinmann is good if entirely predictable and their sound is a big black roar that completely drowns out the bass. Even so bassist Justin Schuler does manage to poke his instrument out briefly in the closing moments of “Sitting In The Wardrobe.”

I’m not going to use this album as a means of convincing my old friend to throw up the horns again, though I may include some Red Chord on the mix CD I will use to enlighten him and bring him back up to speed. Even so, The Daily Grind sounds good enough to include in a random mix with a variety of other bands, provided it doesn’t already have plenty of quality Deathcore. Anima would just get lost in the fray.


(Two and a half out of five horns)

[Anima on MySpace]

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