by Mike Avakian
Progressive metal has been very prominent in 2023, and us prog rock/metal fans have been spoiled with new music from bands like – Periphery, Haken, and AVKRVST; just to name a few. The most recent release to add to the 2023 roster is from The Anchoret, with their debut album “It All Began With Loneliness”.
Underground prog rock/metal is a very special thing, in the sense that it usually is comprised of like-minded, talented, and true knowers of the genre in and of itself; The Anchoret appears to be that very special thing. The gems scattered throughout this entire album are complete ear candy with absolutely stunning performances.
This album opens with the track, “An Office For…”, a two-and-a-half minute moody intro to lead us through an hour of epic music ahead. The David Gilmour-esque lead pushes its way into lush vocal harmonies with smooth and seductive saxophone playing underneath. It channels Pink Floyd, and somehow combining their latter two eras, with songs like Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Wish You Were Here) and Marooned (The Division Bell). It then effortlessly merges with the next track, “A Dead Man”. The song kicks off with nothing but energy and clever riffs. With the blast beats from James Christopher Knoerl, this song really shows off, not only their talent, but the stamina to keep you on your toes.
Other standout songs on this album are “Forsaken” and “Burial”. The performance of all of the members are top tier. The keyboard solo in “Forsaken”, performed by Andy Tillison (The Tangent), gives strong Kevin Moore, from Dream Theater alumni vibes, and fits perfectly within the song format. The climax of the song makes you want to nod your head along with the Between the Buried and Me-inspired guitar riffs and fast double kick. The following track, “Burial”, begins with a softer and tamer vibe that takes a page from Porcupine Tree and Opeth, before it kicks into crazy riffs and soaring vocals. If you combine Darroh from Fair to Midland (please come back) with M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold, you get Sylvain Auclair; and the power in Sylvain’s voice is intoxicating and palpable.
It’s alway a pleasant surprise when a new prog rock/metal band comes out of nowhere, and hits you right in the face with a brilliant album that you didn’t know you needed. I’d be willing to bet that these guys are just getting started with their progressive journey into the realms of virtuosic playing, odd time signatures, and long, epic, and perfectly crafted songs. There is one thing for certain – “It All Began With Loneliness” is a masterpiece and The Anchoret is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Released on June 23rd, 2023
1. An Office for… (2:40)
2. A Dead Man (6:32)
3. Until the Sun Illuminates (6:40)
4. Someone Listening? (8:05)
5. Forsaken (7:26)
6. Buried (4:28)
7. All Turns to Clay (8:32)
8. Unafraid (7:18)
9. Stay (7:00)
Total Time 58:41
Eduard Levitsky / bass
Sylvain Auclair / vocals
Leo Estalles / guitars
James Christopher Knoerl / drums
Andy Tillison / keyboards, synthesizers