Review by Daniel for Anacrusis - Manic Impressions (1991) Review by Daniel for Anacrusis - Manic Impressions (1991)

Daniel Daniel / February 09, 2024 / 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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