Anah Aevia is a metalcore group from Michigan and although I'm not familiar with any of their previous material, it's quite obvious from the lyrics (there appear to be excerpts on the insert, though not full lyrics) and liner notes that these guys are a spirituality-inspired bunch. Quite frankly, I have neither an affinity for, nor an inherent distaste for Christian hardcore. For the most part, I'm all about the music, and although I can appreciate and respect what any band is trying to say, the underlying message almost never makes or breaks an album for me. I'm not saying lyrics are irrelevant, but when it comes to material where most words are difficult to decipher (and that includes 90% of the stuff we cover on this site), the music is truly the medium, and my main concern.
The opening track, "Murder," pretty much sets the tone for this album, with slow guitar picking cuddling some ominous bass notes, all before a barrage of screamy vocals enters the picture. The momentum builds and then flows nicely into the next track, "Emmanuel My Provider," which also hosts a bevy of shrieking vocals, this time anchored by some menacing palm-muted guitar chords (I'm a sucker for parts like the one thirty seconds into this song). The short-lived track is followed by "Hubble's Law," which, following a pounding opening and a minute or so of the now obligatory screaming, gives way to some actual singing, before once again returning to the super-heavy stuff, with a flare of technicality present this time around. Up next, "October 12 1998" might remind some of ZAO's older material. Following a toned-down intro with some rim shots and strummed guitar, the song slowly builds into a full-on metal assault, with a particularly circumambient vocal delivery.
For the remainder of "Realize You're Dead," Anah Aevia doesn't deviate too much from their plan of attack, but they do possess enough diversity to make subtle changes with tracks like "Eyes Asphyxiated," which offers a more melodic slant to their metal, and "London Life," one of the most effective tracks on the album, with its tight metalcore grooves, melodic vocals, fits of screaming, and a toned-down reprise. In between, listeners will encounter "Mexico City," the track that begins with a melodramatic and meandering spoken-word intro, but redeems itself as the track progresses, thanks to some dark and technical metal.
There are a few tracks on the record that really don't enhance the overall product, musically speaking. "Renwal" [sic]is a simplistic instrumental, short in length, and relatively devoid of content, though I'll assume that it plays a more important role from a thematic standpoint. "Hope" is yet another short instrumental, and once again, though all but meaningless from a musical perspective, its title is no doubt indicative of some overall significance (actually, the track sounds like an Alice In Chains outtake or something).
Following two solid tracks, "A Tale Of Two Revolutions" and "Sea and Sky," which are essentially straight-up metalcore, comes "Morning The Innocent," one of the best songs on the record. The song features a nicely constructed array of smooth vocals, noisy metal breaks, and a technicality more faithful to A Life Once Lost than their own previous material, all capped by an explosive double-bass anchored breakdown.
Lyrically speaking, the band's material seems thought-provoking, though I won't pretend to have connected with its intended emotion. The layout is decent, though simplistic and certainly nothing to write home about. The recording is good, solidly mixed, and more than capable of conveying the jagged dynamics of the group.
Bottom Line: As is quite often the case on this album, the group's melodic stuff can often be found parleying with the metal stuff. For the most part, Anah Aevia has achieved a nice balance, and the two work well together (particularly on tracks like "London Life"). The biggest strike against Anah Aevia would be a lack of originality. Virtually all of their material can be compared to swaths of Underoath, ZAO, and old Narcissus. On the other hand, I can appreciate any group that does their "job" well, and there are more than enough enjoyable moments on this album to warrant purchase.
Channel Sakutaro Matsumoto