If there was ever a time for the emotionally crushing, despair-inflected rage of the new Ancst album Summits Of Despondency, it’s now.
The album isn’t overly tied to the present moment, as if it’ll suddenly become obsolete five years down the road. On the album, there’s just a staggeringly sincere look at the deeply unsettling, churning chaos that feels like it might rip us all into the undertow at a moment’s notice. Sincerity, like that which is displayed on this record, tends to never get stale—and it certainly doesn’t here.
Ancst, who are a rather prolific German group (their catalog includes almost two dozen releases), have captured an absolutely obliterating blast of metallic fury on Summits Of Despondency. Their music sits along the lines of blackened metallic hardcore; the core features a just-about-never-ending barrage of absolutely pulverizing punk/crust riffs, and the group have built on that foundation with metallic flourishes like a super-sharp edge in the sound and blast beats galore.
On their latest album, which drops on September 18 via Lifeforce Records, songs like “…of Dying” and “Denazification” nicely capture the brunt of the band’s unique blackened hardcore onslaught. Moments like the opening of “Inferno” sound like they’re packing a musically expressed flaming buzzsaw. Much of the riffing across these songs and others carries the same kind of vibe as the always ferocious drum rhythms.
Ferocity is not all that Ancst have to offer. The emotional core in their new album feels very real. “Final Hour,” for instance, features some (comparatively) slower riffing that sounds like a staggering musical portrait of extreme desperation. The experience of the song (and similar moments on the record, like some of the track “Monotony of Anguish”) is something like dragging oneself out of a pile of flaming rubble.
There are some true musical peaks on Summits Of Despondency—like during the dramatically surging, death metal/meaty hardcore riffs on “The Burden of Hope Part II,” but Ancst have charted the whole journey up to those points, including the (metaphorically) foot-searing chaos.
There is a majestic and sometimes-even-cinematic-leaning power in many of Ancst’s monstrous riffs, which consistently push forward through the haze.
At the conclusion of Summits Of Despondency, the band ask a poignant question that seems to sum up the listening experience. The lyrics state: “When all the towers will fall and we submit to our withering grace, we could ascend from the endless ruins—from this corroding conceit into a life of togetherness … in our lifetime will we do things that matter? Will we prove essential to our own persistence? Will we look back in content in our final hour?”