Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Sleeping Shaman on Anatomy of Habit

Anatomy Of Habit ‘Ciphers + Axioms’ CD/LP/DD 2014

13th November 2014

Anatomy Of Habit 'Ciphers + Axioms' 

Anatomy Of Habit is the brainchild of noise icon Mark Solotoroff, and Ciphers + Axioms marks their Relapse Records debut. Two monolithic tracks of heft and crush, combining vast post metal riffs and noise rock menace, make one of this year’s most interesting releases.

The band has that talent for putting you totally at unease. The rich, poetic spoken word of the creeping, hypnotic intro to Radiate And Recede builds into a looming wall of thick guitar. The vocals get more agitated as the piece moves, layering crushing Neurosis riffs over slow, pounding drums. There’s some cool dirge riffs around the five and a half minute point, that roil and sway like a stricken ship. There are softer moments too, where the layers of gloom are stripped away for barely a minute before some grinding faster riffs appear. The song builds into a crescendo of crashing riffs, where the vocals become almost like an impassioned preacher, then it drops away to begin again. There’s a beautiful sense of ebb and flow, and the title encapsulates the song perfectly.

Second track Then Window is the slightly longer of the two, and opens with squalling feedback that builds into a juddering riff fest. It then descends to a more melodic and gentler passage, while not necessarily more mellow, definitely adds variety into the mix. There’s something mesmerising about Solotoroff’s vocals on this track, that baritone vocal sounding somewhere between the croon of Maynard James Keenan and the more eccentric style of David Tibet. The repetitive nature of the vocals in this track, particularly the album title refrain, is very effective while the music swells and fades behind him. When that part comes to a close and it becomes just instruments, there is more than a hint of Jesu peering over this. It’s a perfect moment of calm, tranquil and ethereal. It bleeds atmospheric all over the next 7 or so minutes, a droning buzz saturating subtle melodies that seep out of the murk. It finishes off the record perfectly, and it’s almost saddening when it finishes.

Ciphers + Axioms is a strange beast. Equal parts atmospheric droning beauty and crashing, riff heavy goodness, Anatomy Of Habit has created something rather good here. If you like Neurosis and Swans, but like a nice slice of relaxing drone in there too, this could be for you.

Label: Relapse Records  
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 on Anatomy of Habit

Anatomy Of Habit - 'Ciphers + Axioms' - Relapse Records
Anatomy Of Habit - 'Ciphers + Axioms' (Relapse)
Genre: Post Metal

It's difficult to categorize or label the sound of Chicago's Anatomy Of Habit and their second full-length Ciphers + Axioms. They incorporate a lot of different elements and genres.

Doom metal is a noticeable influence, with heavy riffs and slow tempos. There are also hints of '80s alternative in the vein of Joy Division along with '90s shoegaze, noise rock and post metal. The album only has two tracks, each one clocking in at around 20 minutes, but the band's constant shifts and sonic evolution holds interest throughout.

Rating: 3.5

(Chad Bowar)

FREEwilliamsburg on Anatomy of Habit

Sonically, all of this segues nicely into Anatomy of Habit’s winningly weird Relapse debut, Ciphers + Axioms, which, like the rest of the band’s catalog, combines elements of noise, post-rock, and doom into a thoroughly bizarre, but entirely intoxicating listen. Like Old Man Gloom, Anatomy Of Habit (another “supergroup”, fronted by Bloodyminded’s Mark Solotroff and featuring the crushing guitar work of Indian’s Will Lindsay) specialize in the sound of things coming apart. Over the course of its two twenty-plus-minute compositions, Ciphers + Axioms does its best to replicate the sound of rivets popping, seams stretching, the screech of the voices in our collective head, and in most instance succeeds with a placid-putrid noise structure that builds tension in every moment. The comparisons to Swans are pretty obvious and will thus be tossed around enough to convince you that’s what this record actually sounds like. Take the bait, listen to the record, but know going in: This one sounds like nothing and everything all at once.

The Earl Times Blog on Anatomy of Habit

Anatomy of Habit
Ciphers + Axioms

Defined as a -masterpiece of post-metal- this monolithic 2 tracks album called Ciphers + Axioms, from Anatomy of Habit has finally been unleashed by Relapse Records yesterday. Who follows the independent industrial / metal music scene knows that there were huge expectations on the shoulders of this record.

The extraordinary essence of the Chicago ensemble, since the very beginning has always been characterized by its spontaneous experimental nature.

However, the first impression that comes to mind spinning these tracks is that the band's nature itself has changed. Probably an unavoidable consequence of the choice to release Ciphers + Axioms through Relapse Records, which is definitely a "metal oriented" label, or, it's just the new path that the members of Anatomy of Habit are following.

The compositions are more linear and the sound has a stronger doom-metal connotation than before. The absence of Bob Weston behind the scenes is definitely evident. The creative approach is less recitative or cinematic and the sudden spikes of tension peculiar of the previous works have left the room to a more progressive and slow mood. You will be surprised by a songwriting that recalls something wedged between the first things produced by Paradise Lost or Anathema, the Depeche Mode and a certain attitude to drone sounds a la Sunn O))) [see Then Window].

The vocals of Mark Solotroff are impressive, touching the perfection as usual and will guide the listener through many different atmospheres painted masterfully with the darkest colors that a human mind can perceive.

TLDR: Ciphers + Axioms is a fantastic album but, if you are expecting the experimental dynamism of his predecessors you will be a little disappointed.

Scene Point Blank on Anatomy of Habit

Anatomy Of Habit

Ciphers + Axioms

Put together great musicians from diverse backgrounds and you are bound to get something special. That is what happens with Anatomy of Habit and their debut album. With an impressing line up which includes guitarist Will Lindsay of Indian, drummer John McEntire of Tortoise, percussionist Theo Katsaounis of Joan of Arc, bassist Kenny Rasmussen (previously of Radar Eyes) and of course fronted by Mark Solotroff of Bloodyminded, you can be sure that this is bound to be interesting. The band had already released an EP back in 2012, giving us a first taste of their sound and raising the expectations.

It is quite difficult to pinpoint the style of Anatomy of Habit, since each member puts a piece in the musical identity puzzle. In the two songs of Ciphers + Axioms (which run for more than twenty minutes each), the band is able to throw together post-rock, deathrock, noise, post-punk and doom to create their own twisted outlook of reality. What is stunning about this band is how they are capable of retaining fluidity, especially when things take a turn for the more abstract, as they do in the opening track where the mixture of doom metal and post rock in the beginning of “Radiate and Recede” gives out a very mesmerizing vibe.

Throughout the record Mark Solotroff gives a great performance on the vocals. The manner in which his voice accompanies the music is splendid. The big vocals in the start of both songs create an imposing feeing which is overwhelming to say the least. Especially the evolution of the tonality of Solotroff’s voice in “Radiate and Recede” is astounding, starting from the big, almost narrative sound and steadily becoming more threating and menacing, finally breaking out full-blown extreme about twelve minutes in the song, with screams all over the place. A thing of beauty, Solotroff’s voice gives a huge boost to the nature of the band’s modus operandi. On top of the repetitive patterns that they implement and their mesmerizing melodies, they create a magnificent sonic illusion.

Anatomy of Habit masterfully creates maze-like structures which overpower the listener. The first four minutes of “Radiate and Recede” are able to submerge you in their abstract concepts with ease, while the “Ciphers and Axioms” lines in “Then Window” keeps being repeated over and over again, slowly grinding your mind. Especially though the final part of “Then Windows” the circling nature of Anatomy of Habit really stands out, with the noise side of the band taking over completely, slowly deconstructing the song to its most basic parts. The percussion also aids greatly in all this, always coming up with some interesting sounds and adding an extra texture on the sonic pallet of Anatomy of Habit. On top of all that Lindsay’s guitar lines tie in perfectly. Whether they are taking a turn for the more hypnotic, as they do in the first part of “Radiate and Recede,” or the more dreamlike guitar vibe, about four minutes in “Then Windows,” it is always interesting and enticing. And once in every while of course, you will get the heavier parts of the band, when they bring out their doom-ier vibe. The thundering drums and heavy riffs about four minutes in “Radiate and Recede” really stand out, as do the doom riffs about six minutes in the opening song. There are even turns when things get more furious, for instance about eight minutes in “Radiate and Recede” and in the beginning of “Then Windows.”

Still with that impressive lineup what is expected is what Anatomy of Habit do in terms of sonic experimentation, and in Ciphers+Axioms they do not disappoint. The background sounds are key for the concepts of the band. The guitar adds greatly in the first two minutes of the opening song, adding more variation to the part, while the implementation of feedback, for example about fourteen minutes in “Radiate and Recede,” will melt your face off, leading to a clinic of experimentation of the guitar sounds in the ending of the song and an exploration of its capabilities. And in “Then Windows” it just blows out of proportion, with the fantastic build up for the first ten minutes leading up to an anti-climactic change while the guitar is trying out some stranger sounds, which manage to always sound suitable for the music.

The noise input of Solotroff is quite obvious in the album, even though it is kept on a tighter lease. “Radiate and Recede” seems to be flirting with noise but never really giving in to it completely. Especially about six minutes in the song, the noise background seems to be ready to take over completely and change the setting to a more ambient music moment. And of course in the second half of “Then Windows” you get the great input of noise slowly oppressing the music until it recedes and the track is deconstructed.

Even though Ciphers + Axioms contains such a plethora of different musical concepts, the members of the band are able to keep them in check and focus on the big picture. The album manages to remain interesting throughout and will not let you catch your breath for an instant.

7.8 / 10Spyros Stasis 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Brainwashed on Anatomy of Habit

Thanks to Creaig Dunton for the great support!

cover image








Anatomy of Habit, "Ciphers + Axioms"

Following up their debut LP and EP, Chicago’s post-everything supergroup Anatomy of Habit (featuring members of Bloodyminded, Tortoise, and Indian, amongst many other projects) continue their penchant for dramatic, expansive rock-tinged music.  For their Relapse debut, they provide two lengthy, side-long pieces that distill everything that was great about their early releases into a cohesive, rich album that stays faithful to their previous work, while adding an extra layer of polish.


From the opening moments of "Radiate then Recede", AoH's influences are not hard to place.  The pounding drums, subterranean bass and caustic, drilling guitar bear a clear early Swans influence, but with a bit more restraint and less overt violence.  The production adds a lot to this differentiation, with the use of reverb and processing bringing a hint of The Cure and Joy Division to their sound.  Influences, yes, but they do so without directly aping any of those projects directly, retaining their own distinct style.
At over 20 minutes "Radiate And Recede" works more like a suite than a single song, with the band working through various configurations of the aforementioned sounds.  Sometimes sludgy and shambling, other times leaning into chugging metal riffs, it never stops moving nor becomes stagnant.  Vocalist Mark Solotroff, the de facto leader of this ensemble, delivers vocals that are the polar opposite of what he is known for from Intrinsic Action or Bloodyminded.  Rather than manic screams or shouts, he is detached, calm and clinical.  Amongst the dirge and darkness constructed from distorted bass and guitar melodies, he clearly reads off scientific terms with an uncomfortable detachment.
On the other half of the record, "Then Window," the group retains the mood but changes the template a bit.  Early on, guitar noise dissolves into militant drumming and wobbling bass rattles.  The piece transitions from a looser opening into a more tautly structured passage of almost 1970s classic heavy metal, juxtaposing the differing styles.  It is depressive and muddy, with an almost shuffling drum groove driving it.
By the middle it becomes a massive ambient expansive, with Solotroff hypnotically repeating the title of the album like some sinister documentary narrator, with the band throwing out expansive, fuzzy noise paired with the guitar melody present since the beginning of the piece.  Compared to “Radiate then Recede” it is clearly a more static, frozen piece, but one that captivates all the same.
There are not gigantic strides made stylistically between the first two AoH releases and Ciphers + Axioms, but instead there is a greater cementing of their identity, as well as a more fully realized sound.  Unlike most supergroups where each artist is pushing their "thing" harder than the rest, everyone here fits perfectly with one another.  They might sound nothing like each other, but parallels are there between AoH and Kevin Martin's God in that respect.  A gathering of musicians who mesh seamlessly together, each acting like a force multiplier to the other to result in a dense, heavy, yet thoroughly enthralling album.