Review: “Dark Paradise” by Anubis

Having spent the past five years building a reputation for themselves by playing shows all over Southern California opening for bands like Allegaeon, Raven and Warbringer and self releasing a collection of EPs and singles, Los Angeles bases Anubis finally bit the bullet and inked a deal with M-Theory Audio for a debut full length album. Fronted by Devin Reiche who many will know as the bassist of Hatchet, who is joined by guitarists Eleazar Llerenas (Delusional Fate) and Justin Escamilla (Tower Guard), bassist Will Buckley and drummer Robin Salazar (both formerly of Hydera), the band are all seasoned veterans and bring with them a myriad of guests for the ride. Recorded at Notes From Underground Studios, “Dark Paradise” was mixed by Josh Franks (Once Human, Railgun, Highland) and mastered by Mika Jussila (Nightwish, Avantasia, Gamma Ray) in Finland…

Somewhere between the Worlds of Traditional, Power and Thrash Metal is the place that Anubis call home and with opening cut “Venom and the Viper’s Kiss” which features a guest solo from Balmore Lemus of Lunar and formerly Warbringer fame, they find the perfect balance between the two sounds. Reiche is an impressive vocalist with good range who has improved steadily since the bands debut EP, capable of the kind of warbling higher pitched moments that you get from Power Metal but cleverly not over doing it while the band provide a tune of blood and thunder to wrap around it. The solo is nothing short of majestic with flavours of Speed Metal to help make this one something that grabs the attention, the lyrical narrative intriguing. While Paul Gehlhar is known for his drumming in Railgun on “Heartless” he adds acoustic guitars to a cut that otherwise leaves fretboards smouldering, a fearfully addictive sing-a-long anthem with sumptuous leads. Given the title you might think its a power ballad but in truth its anything but, forming a nice bridge to the album title track “Priestess of Dark Paradise” upon which Salazar offers up a powerhouse display from behind the kit. The pace and energy of the tune is a key part of what makes it magnificent, the sharper riffs giving it much more of a cutting edge while the roots and influences shine through. In truth its hard not to crack a smile and not find yourself enjoying this record because if you had any doubts, Anubis win you over with the quality of their musicianship and ability to write a catchy tune.

A session musician who has appeared on cuts by Carnifex, Heirs Of Isildur and Aurora Borealis to name but a few Cassie Morris provides a piano introduction for “Fallen” which gallops away from the melodic introduction with verve and swagger. The soloing into the final third is nothing short of jaw dropping, the speed and dexterity as mind blowing as Reiche’s story telling abilities. It’s common place to find an older cut carried forward to a debut record and here Anubis do so with a reinvigorated version of “Devour” which finds David Ainsworth of Our Dying World lending his throat with some vicious unclean vocals. Another lightening quick affair, this one feels like a bolt of lighting from a wrathful God, the vocals from the pair intertwining as they exchange lines about riding into battle to dominate and devour. Power Metal lyrics can be a little cheesy at times but here they work incredibly well and as the intensity increases with the breakneck speed riffage of “The Uncreated“, it’s impossible not to headbang. Another white lightening solo is at the heart of this one, a clever play off between spoken and sung vocal lines adding something a little different. A cover of “Symbolic” by Death might seem like a strange choice but Anubis put their own stamp on the classic like a boot print to the skull and add a turbo to supercharge it. The vocals are obviously higher pitched but wrapped around them the riffs are faster and harder, the cut playing out at the tempo of the damned to make this something special and not just Metal by numbers.

An unclean vocal layer underneath parts of the cleans helps gives “Strife” more punch as the band unveil another absolute ripper that borders on Extreme Metal as it gets the adrenaline pumping once more, Llerenas and Escamilla inflicting maximum damage with their flaming guitar work. The pummelling percussive battery and bombastic bass are equally as persuasive on this one, every element coming together in perfect alchemy. Key is that the band have the confidence to match their vision of how they want to sound and the result is that every song sounds like they’re having fun while giving their all. Last but by no means least is “Thy Frozen Throne” which once again has glorious story telling from  Reiche but also has riffs and technicality which reach August Burns Red Christmas album levels. That’s how good this sing-a-long anthem is, a grand finale that wipes the floor with the opposition in stunning fashion. The musicianship is crazy, everyone bringing their A game and the result is a fun filled, action packed blockbuster of an album that everyone can enjoy… [8.5/10]

Track Listing

1. Venom and the Viper’s Kiss (ft. Balmore Lemus of Lunar, ex-Warbringer)
2. Heartless (ft. Paul Gehlhar of Railgun)
3. Priestess of Dark Paradise
4. Fallen (ft. Cassie Morris)
5. Devour (ft. David Ainsworth of Our Dying World)
6. The Uncreated
7. Symbolic (Death Cover)
8. Strife
9. Thy Frozen Throne (ft. Paul Gehlhar of Railgun, Diego Valadez of Anthea, Cellador)

Dark Paradise” by Anubis is out 23rd February 2024 via M-Theory Audio and is available over at bandcamp

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