13 Apr 2014
Ancst - The Humane Condition [EP] (2013, Dark Omen Records)
Ancst are nothing if not productive. In the short time their carreer has spanned hitherto the German duo has produced no less than 7 releases, 5 of which were released in 2013. The prime question that springs to mind is whether or not this productivity comes at the cost of creativity and originality.
Though seeming to take a turn for bleak atmospherics, as is so trendy nowadays, Ancst narrowly avoid the usual clichés of the modern scene. The tempestuous vocals provided by Torsten tend to sound exceedingly hardcoresque in their crude, shouted manner, and at times - even if they're in the back of the mix - they detract attention from the formidable threads of guitar laid down presumably by the second part of the duo, Tom. The EP consists of the songs Ascetic and Entropie, two tracks that at first glance are so immaculate in their execution that they come off as aimless attempts at a modern trend. Only through further delving into their sound do the tracks open up for the immense detail work that lies hidden in the exceptionally well-crafted riffing.
Writing, recording and releasing only a few songs at a time looks to be the way Ancst get around being making a slew of uninteresting, mass-produced tracks. For the most part on The Humane Condition EP, it works. As mentioned the riffs are strong and creative, but this is where the fun ends. The lack of an actual drummer leaves Ancst at a disadvantage with programmed drums that never quite fills the roll appropriately. In much the same manner the vocals feel like a fish out of water. While this type of shouted vocals isn't entirely out of the ordinary in this genre, Torsten's screams never quite penetrate the misty atmosphere the same way the guitars do.
All in all every instrument feels well-balanced within the mix, but this doesn't mean every part that makes up this machine are equal in quality. It's all put together in a way that diverts attention from any shortcomings, and the vocals and drums aren't as such a complete blunder. But they never come through and prove their point. Entropie, the EP's last track, is arguably the best of the two songs due to variation crafted in a sleek and stylish manner and a great use of momentum and sense of pace. The Humane Condition is by no means a terrible EP, and it's entirely worth the roughly 12 minutes it takes. 7/10 guitars.
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