Anacrusis - Manic Impressions (1991)Release ID: 3060

Anacrusis - Manic Impressions (1991) Cover
Ben Ben / March 26, 2019 / Comments 0 / 1

Manic Impressions is a fantastic album! I'd heard of Anacrusis before, but had never actually listened to them until a couple of weeks ago. I really wish I had of given them a shot earlier to be honest. It reminds me of several bands, but many of them were after 1991, so I have to think that Anacrusis have had a large influence on many bands in an underground way, without getting much of a mention over the years.

Their sound is very progressive, with technical proficiency throughout. As is normally the case with progressive metal, the bass has much more of a role to play than in some of the more extreme parts of the genre. The riffs occasionally have that jagged edge that Pestilence regularly created in their prime. The song structures remind me of bands like Atheist and Cynic, but Anacrusis are not as heavy or technical as either of those bands. They're probably more easily described as a more contained Voivod, having loads of creativity and heaviness, while focusing on melody. They create some truly memorable tracks with hummable choruses that will stick in your head for days.

The most impressive thing about this band for me though must be vocalist Kenn Nardi. Apart from the fact he's the guitarist and main songwriter, his various vocals styles are all fantastic. He has a vicious scream, a decent growl, and an awesome clean vocal delivery. I think that Burton C. Bell from Fear Factory heard Anacrusis at some point as the style is very similar. Aggressive verses are replaced by extremely melodic and catchy clean choruses without ever falling into cheesy grounds. Highlights are Paint a Picture, I Love the World, Explained Away, What You Became and Far Too Long, but this album is gold from start to finish. Can't wait to check out their other releases, particularly Screams and Whispers!

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Daniel Daniel / February 09, 2024 / Comments 0 / 0

Missouri-based thrash metallers Anacrusis & I have had a fairly long affiliation that kicked off in the early 1990's through their 1990 sophomore album "Reason" & would expand to cover their entire discography over the next couple of years. I have to admit that I always quite liked them too but my brother Ben would go on to be a much bigger fan of them than I was. During more recent times I've revisited their supposedly classic 1993 "Screams & Whispers" fourth album which is generally considered to be Anacrusis' finest work & found that it has lost a fair chunk of its luster over the years. I certainly got some enjoyment out of it but can't see the justification for it being claimed as any sort of classic. It did however lead to me wondering whether 1991's "Manic Impressions" might suffer a similar fate which saw me nominating it for The Infinite feature release status this month.

My first revisit to "Manic Impressions" was a pretty challenging one to tell you the truth. The album's flaws immediately presented themselves as an obstacle to block my path to any sort of enjoyment & it took a full four listens before I felt that I'd managed to develop a firm & justifiable position. The first & admittedly pretty major flaw is the production job which presents this material in a format that I wouldn't have accepted for a live release or even a demo if it was me. Music of this complexity requires a crisp, clear production that allows the listener to take in all of the finer nuances but here we find a rough & ready sounding record with the ultra-dry & noticeably raw guitars being too far back in the mix & the tinny drums booming out over the top. The vocals also seem to hide behind the instrumentation most of the time & I can understand why they might have voluntarily gone with that approach given that guitarist Kenn Nardi's vocal skills are very patchy indeed. In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest that he can't sing to save his life so I was understandably doing it really tough early on.

Thankfully there are some great musical ideas hidden beneath the mess described above though. Unlike "Screams & Whispers" which is entirely focused on the progressive side of the equation, "Manic Impressions" is a much more pure representation of its progressive thrash metal tag which is an immediate plus in my book. In fact, I can see strong similarities to artists like Atheist, Voivod & Watchtower which can't be a bad thing now, can it? There are a number of tracks that eschew the thrash elements altogether though for an undiluted progressive metal sound or one that's heaped with US power metal ambiguity but at least half of the tracklisting sits very comfortably in thrash or tech thrash territory. It's kinda sad that many of the more technical & complex sections are left sounding really messy due to production issues that see the instrumentation lacking any sort of cohesion. Tracks like "I Love The World" & "What You Became" are the most obvious examples & are subsequently the biggest failures but "Something Real" & "Dream Again" aren't much better to be honest. Luckily, the back end of the album sees things taking somewhat of an upward turn but it's too little too late as far as I'm concerned with the impact of the stronger material still being curtailed by the production issues.

This latest experience with Anacrusis has not only left me disappointed with the widely praised "Manic Impressions" but has also led to me questioning my long-time position on Anacrusis as a whole given that neither of their two most popular records have managed to secure a respectable four star rating out of me. I'm not sure if my taste has just changed & become more refined over time or if I was simply naive to begin with but there's no way that I can justify these records being held up on the pedestal they so often seem to be. "Screams & Whispers" is clearly the better of the two though & I wouldn't hesitate in recommending that you give "Manic Impressions" a miss in favour of that release if you're new to the band.

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Shadowdoom9 (Andi) Shadowdoom9 (Andi) / October 15, 2023 / Comments 0 / 0

Anacrusis has reached a greater progressive height in their tech-thrash sound. Their two albums before this one showed subtle hints of progressiveness, but with Manic Impressions, they have reached their signature style that has formed the bridge between the thrash of Testament and the prog of Voivod. This album and Coroner and Dark Angel's respective albums that year form the 1991 tech-thrash triptych!

Manic Impressions shows a new vision for Anacrusis, along with a different drummer, Chad Smith (not the guy from Red Hot Chili Peppers, though that would be quite cool), whose skills added to the complexity. Soft breaks and multiple time signatures have become more common than before, as are the mid-paced progressive aspects that would be in full force in their swan song album Screams and Whispers. With the songs and lyrics in cohesive flow, you can almost consider this a concept album when it isn't. Not every album has nothing but strong songs, but this album stands out as that.

"Paint a Picture" opens the prog-thrash gates as the talented voice of Kenn Nardi crashes in. Their cover of "I Love the World" by New World Army is so unique, you might end up thinking it's the band's own original song. The riffing in "Something Real" shows that their influence from bands like Metal Church is real. If music from other bands can enter their minds subconsciously, that's an interesting motive.

Breaking away from any tiredness, "Dream Again" unleashes some brutal death-infused rage in an absolute highlight to stun even fans of hardcore bands like Vicious Circle. "Explained Away" is another masterpiece of progressive thrash, as dark atmosphere and intense heaviness collide in a dramatic mix. The best and most ominous riffing comes in "Still Black", which continues this perfect streak as is my personal favorite here. "What You Became" has more spine-chilling darkness to discover and possibly become with once you're already immersed into the experience.

"Our Reunion" has some of the most memorable thrash here, perfectly balanced with the mid-paced sections surrounding, slowing down to heavier doom in the second half. "Idle Hours" experiments with a more melodic progressive metal sound that there would be more of in Screams and Whispers. The atmospheric riffing works quite well especially in the technical ending. Wrapping things up as an atmospheric heavy ballad is "Far Too Long", with some of the most compelling leads to be heard from the band.

All in all, Manic Impressions is an album any tech-thrash/progressive metal fan should hear. Just brush aside the muddy production and let the dark technical emotion in the music and lyrics show you what progressive tech-thrash is all about!

Favorites: "I Love the World", "Dream Again", "Explained Away", "Still Black", "Our Reunion"

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Release info

Release Site Rating

Ratings: 7 | Reviews: 3

3.6

Release Clan Rating

Ratings: 7 | Reviews: 3

3.6

Cover Site Rating

Ratings: 5

2.7

Cover Clan Rating

Ratings: 5

2.7
Band
Release
Manic Impressions
Year
1991
Format
Album
Clans
The Infinite
The Pit
Sub-Genres

Technical Thrash Metal

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Thrash Metal (conventional)

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Progressive Metal (conventional)

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