I’ve always said there’s something special about “home-grown” music, but it’s not like I discriminated against international acts. Hailing from Sydney, Australia comes Anno Domini; honest melodic death that’s not hung up on reinventing the worn out wheels of the genre. Instead this five-piece bring together the better aspects of melodic death metal and somehow make it their own. The band’s sophomore album, ‘The Cold Expanse’ is an open flattery to the likes of early-Scar Symmetry, Be’lakor (who’ll they’ll be sharing the stage with in coming days) and the joint crushing presence of traditional death metal. It’s also the first record to see newest members Andy Suppradit (vocals) and (guitarist) Michael Aldeguer. Unashamed, it’s Anno Domini that brings all of this together to create a solid record, without the hype.
At times people could be forgiven for missing quality bands like Anno Domini; the internet has done a lot of things for music and metal in particular. With the sheer amount of groups recording, promoting and self-releasing it’s no wonder we can’t listen to it all, but ‘The Cold Expanse’ shouldn’t be overlooked for being “yet another Aussie death metal” record (there’s a few, trust me). A symphonic introduction leads an hour-plus affair of building musicianship, harrowing atmospherics and a controlled sense of instrumentation. At a first glance it’s clear that nothing is new here and technically speaking you would be right, but take a deeper look; it’s the stereotypical things of melodic death metal done right. Anno Domini haven’t worked in half measures. Even the clean vocal passages of “Fire Upon Eden” match a stylistic contrast to contend even the heavyweights of this genre. It’s easy to see that these lads from Sydney would rather get the essentials right than contest the idea of musical self-revolution.
Highlights emerge quickly on a first listen; the album’s longest track, “Fire Upon Eden” showcases a songwriting ability of a seasoned group while the soaring “Evanescent” coupled with a contrast of growls highlights a band’s ability to write a metal album AND be accessible at the same time. I mean you’re probably not going to hear “Evanescent” on the radio on that drive home after work but it goes to show how much reach metal has these days.
Anno Domini’s second record sees a certain roundness appear within their music. The occasional hiccup appears where tracks mesh together, the effect showcases a somewhat same-y album. The symphonic element that floats in the back of the tracks allow a blending where tracks become simply too natural. It’s lucky that the guys didn’t over-polish the record in the studio, maintaining a sense of light in every note and beat of the record. Luckily, this isn’t too noticeable and the average every day listener or live show fan won’t find this to be an issue at all. Tracks like “Fragments of Eternity”, “Empyre” and “Infestation” have an infectious ‘live’ quality to them where one can’t help but bang their heads. It’s becoming easier and easier to appreciate that foundation of groove as I get older, watching the bands from the (almost) back of the crowd, beer in hand. These days it’s less about the “scene” and more about the music, Anno Domini get that – I salute them. I’ll buy that disc on the table set up on that not-so-well-lit-fold-away-table next to me and find out where they’re playing next. It doesn’t have to be the best thing going around, it just has to be honest music.
Overall, Anno Domini’s second album is a refreshing listen, even if it does nothing to innovate a genre pool. That’s okay, I’d personally prefer a band make the music they want to, than the over-produced avant-garde fusion record that gets shut off during the first track. ‘The Cold Expanse’ may be forgotten after a time, but it deserves its place in any listeners’ frequent playlist. An hour of melodic death well worth it.
Lyric Video for “Primordium”