Some albums are more difficult to review than others. There are various reasons for this, but this new Anubis Gate album is a unique beast. The band recently released “Covered in Colours” on April 24th, and it is completely an album of cover songs. There is not one original composition on the record—or is there? This album is incredibly difficult to review simply because Anubis Gate has managed to create entirely new songs out of these old classics.
Anubis Gate come to us from Denmark. They get better and better with each album, and their creativity may have spilled over the brim on this album. The lineup here includes Henrik Fevre on bass and vocals, Kim Olesen on guitars and keys, Michael Bodin on guitars, and Morten Gade Sørensen on drums.
Anubis Gate are solidly in the progressive metal crowd, though they offer a wider appeal than that. Their music is generally injected with pop sensibilities, and their overall sound is much fresher than most prog metal bands. They use progressive metal for effect, but know when to give their melodies room to breathe and expand. I’ve always been impressed with their sense of cinema and abstraction, as well.
Now, I’m going to stop here for a moment and say some things that Nightmare Records might not like. I gambled on whether or not I should say this, but I feel the need. Anubis Gate has gotten almost zero promotion for this album from their label. The promo arrived two days before release, and the first single was released that day, too. It is notoriously difficult to get promos from Nightmare Records anyways. The promo kit has only one old band image, and I had to insert it into a design so that the format could be usable. I just don’t get it, I guess. Does the label want this album to fail? Why make it so difficult for people to hear about this release? Is it laziness? Incompetence? I have no idea.
Okay, I feel better. Let’s discuss the album now. Yes, “Covered in Colours” is something of a counterpart to the band’s last album, “Covered in Black”. That album was vividly dark, and I absolutely loved it. This album is more colorful and eccentric, and does feel like a good contrast. Yes, all of the songs are covers. I’ve provided the tracklist along with the original band’s names below. You will notice that Anubis Gate has pulled from all sorts of genres and eras. In that way, I think this album was a real task for them to complete.
Now, I usually hate covers. I can count on two hands the number of covers that I truly like. Progressive metal bands almost always do an awful job (I think of Redemption’s horrible covers on a couple of their albums). Anubis Gate has bucked that trend by completely re-writing these songs. These are Anubis Gate songs with the lyrics and some of the basic melodies of the originals. Aside from that, many of the songs are completely unrecognizable.
Another thing to note here is that the band has diversified their musical style even further. This album has metal and post-metal moments, straight pop portions, electronic and synth overlays, and some peculiar oddities that are thrown in for good measure. These things make the album into something exciting, fresh, and surprisingly addictive, despite being a bunch of covers.
There are several examples of this. “Still in Life in Mobile Homes” from Japan is the album opener here, and it feels meatier and more fleshed out than the original, though it keeps the transcendent quirk of the original. “Experiment” from Voivod is another great one, feeling gritty and unrelenting. Mike Stern’s “Chromazone” is even better. The original is more of a jazz pop fusion instrumental, and Anubis Gate has transformed it completely into a razor-edged progressive metal masterpiece.
Now, I know that you are looking at that tracklist, and you are worrying about a couple of those song selections. “Atlas” from Coldplay? “Back in Black” from AC/DC? Let me assuage your fears. “Atlas” is better than the original, in my opinion. This version has more sonic diversity, which makes the ending have infinitely more impact. And “Back in Black”? Amazing! Now, I can’t stand AC/DC—they are one of my most hated bands. But this version is like a cinematic, post-rock, electronic, Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine” version of the legendary original, and it has texture, vibe, and entire instrumental portions that have been added. In fact, it might be my favorite here. It is truly a great cover.
Some other favorites are the soaring, heavier version of Mike Oldfield’s “To France” and the very metro version of Visage’s “Fade to Grey”. Both are incredibly well done. Now, I know that “Strawberry Fields Forever” from The Beatles was the single released for this album, and many people have expressed their dislike for it. Yes, I think it is the weakest song on the album, and I think it was a weird choice to release. However, I’ve really come to like it and its psychedelic, multi-spectral vision of this classic. I especially love how the song fades out, you think it’s done, and then it comes back in with more vivid psychedelia.
Anubis Gate put just as much time and effort into this album as any of their other offerings. This might have been more difficult, in a way, because of the task of transforming these songs. I think they did an amazing job, and the album plays as more of a new record of original content than an album of covers. I hope fans will give it a try.
1. Still life in Mobile Homes (by Japan)
2. Red (by King Crimson)
3. Plantage (by Under Byen)
The Jazz-Metal Lounge:
4. Experiment (by Voivod)
5. Chromazone (by Mike Stern)
6. Glamour Profession (by Steely Dan)
The Beautiful Ones
7. Entangled (by Genesis)
8. Atlas (by Coldplay)
The Eighties Corner
9. To France (by Mike Oldfield)
10. Fade to Grey (by Visage)
11. S.A.T.O. (by Ozzy Osbourne)
No, They Didn’t?
12. Aggressive Perfector (by Slayer)
13. Back in Black (by AC/DC)
14. Strawberry Fields Forever (by The Beatles)
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