Angizia


Die Kemenaten Scharlachroter Lichter

Angizia - Die Kemenaten Scharlachroter Lichter ©1997 Napalm Records
1. Kaptiel I: Szenischer Monolog/Das Rote Gold Des Kerzenwachses
2. Kapitel II: Der Kirschgarten Oder Memoiren An Die Stirn Der
3. Kapitel III. Halbe Wahrheit, Schemelglanz Und Totenlichter
4. Kapitel IV: Ein Sängerleben- Welch Wunderbarer Nachtgensang?
5. Kapitel V: Schellenklingeln/Vom Kurzen Leben Fast Verschneiter Grüner

Angizia's first album, Die Kemenaten Scharlachroter Lichter, was very much a critical failure upon its release, primarily due to its misdirected marketing to the metal crowd. In a word, it's central "fallacy" was that it was not metal, or even remotely related to the genre. There are elements of black metal present on the record: scratchy guitars (rendered largely inaudible by the production), hoarse shrieks, and double bass runs on the drums. But these elements are hardly enough to justify calling the music metal. The question therefore becomes "what exactly is Angizia?"

The music of Angizia can be described as a combination of progressive rock (with a strong gothic tilt), Romantic neo-classical music and contemporary musical theater. The songs are extensive affairs, with a whole arsenal of moods and singing voices employed to nearly ridiculous effect. The first thing one notices about the music is the strong emphasis on piano; in fact, the piano is the driving force of the overall sound, the hyperactive constant in the music. The piano lines are probably some of the most professional you're likely to find in the metal/rock underground, regardless of genre. Romantic and classical in nature, the piano is complimented with strings and flute work rich in timbre.* The rather sophisticated classical instrumentation is grounded in fairly complex and ever-changing percussion and bass. The electric guitars, as I've previously mentioned, are ineffectual and really add nothing to the music.

The vocals are provided by a sonorous soprano, an effective tenor (who I am told sounds like Kermit the Frog) and a raspy black metal growler. The three often work in unison, their voices infused in some stranger variety of harmony - the atonality of the shrieks create an interesting offsetting dissonance in the music. The singing is arranged in the tradition on musical theater, with each voice representing a different character in an unfolding drama. The singers are often times more "expressive" than those typically found in the purely classical tradition, and have more in common with the slightly rockified singing of an Andrew L. Webber production. The singing is constant, multi-layered and everywhere in the music. The oft jovial sing-song quality will simply alienate most extreme metal fans, and I am sure that it was this very insanity that drove most metal critics up the wall when they first heard the album.

The album is a nice change in pace. The work will probably appeal more to the atmospheric/gothic crowd than the typical rock/metal fans. The overall music has a very warm, emotive quality; never jarring or crude, the album presents itself as an easy route to escapist bliss. I can wholeheartedly recommend this work to lovers of warm atmospheric music with little or no crunch. Of course, the crunch shows up on the second album in force.

*There is a slightly annoying lip-flapping sound that crops up in the flute production here and there.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 06/2000

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Das Tagebuch Der Hanna Anikin

Angizia - Das Tagebuch Der Hanna Anikin ©1997 Napalm Records
1. Kapitel I: Mein Schalltrichter Summit Memmenhaften Ein Totenlied
2. Kapital II: Spätherbst 1832. Das Spinnrad Ist Ein Memoirensignal..
3. Kapital III: Von Spiel Der Leisen Fragen. Wie Schäle Ich Den Augapfel?
4. Kapitel IV: Zweigesprächniederschriften - Ein Vermummites Trauerspiel
5. Kapitel V: Die Elenden Skribenten Von Bach Und Wolkenkuckucksheim
6. Kapitel VI: Die Fieberschauer Eines Betrunknen Schwarzen Schmetterlings.

The second Angizia album moves the band in a more metallic direction, with an improved production, death metal guitar riffs and a massive drum sound. Which isn't to say that it is a radical departure from the first album. More theatrical perhaps. There are trumpets now, some smooth polyphony, and the wacky Korova vocalist's enthusiastic singing (off-key and brimming with joy most of the time). The piano lines still retain some classical grandeur, but are less complex than before. The music is less rambling and more concisely song orientated. To summarize: less classical, more Broadway.

As I've mentioned, Korova's key spokes figure Christof Niederwieser supplies additional vocals to the troupe. He lends an eccentric (quite possibly insane) air to the already strange music, with his convoluted singing and absurd enthusiasm. The songs tend to be shorter than before, alternating between catchier sections and beautifully rendered neo-classicism. Lyrics are presented in German, English and Russian, and are used to flesh out characterization in a story concerning a Russian pauper in mid nineteenth century. Fittingly, the music conveys a strong sense of early modern European life, though how exactly it achieves this is rather ambiguous- probably the Romantic nature of the piano melodies.

Das Tagebuch Der Hanna Anikin is a stranger, more developed version of the band's first album. It's more metallic, more theatrical, and actually a good deal more fun overall. The trumpets add an interesting new flavor and somehow click with the wacky vocal braying of Niederweiser. For a strange mixture of Broadway musicals, neo-classicism and crunchy rock/metal, Angizia has your ticket.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 06/2000

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