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Anicon Write Their Names Into U.S. Black Metal History

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Once upon a time in New York City, four men dropped four tracks which formed a wall laid by bricks of not only black metal’s rich history, but death, power, and folk metal’s as well. While proposals of who could be placed on the list of influences could go on for days, the album reflected the name of a single entity: Anicon.

Since their formative year of 2012, much has happened with Anicon. Exegeses garnered attention within the atmospheric black metal scene for adapting the second wave into cleaner, more digestible units. The quartet demonstrates the fusion of traditional tremolo picking with folk metal’s call-to-action war drums, which achieves newfound richness through the asset of clean production. Hisses are also projected through a more relentless, death-style flair that shines forth through the layers of a live performance.

Through these elements, Anicon has made a unique mark on the atmospheric realm by crafting a tone not of melancholy, but of war. Black metal’s devilish points are utilized where appropriate. But ultimately, the takeaway of embracing strength and determination is conveyed by melodious guitars filling the embankment anchored by mighty bass and swift beats.

Their upcoming release Entropy Mantra will mark Anicon’s eighth contribution, with “Names Written in Tar” (streaming exclusively below) serving as a glimpse into the album’s cult of musicianship. The overarching devotion to technical performance over feathered filigree makes every second count. Tethered together by a tenacious tempo, harmonious guitar breaks are challenged to a duel with a sinister alter ego.

We talked with vocalist/guitarist Owen Rundquist (Trenchgrinder, ex-Alrunes, ex-Pathos), and he offered hints into Entropy Mantra‘s secret ingredients. The consumption of his contemporaries, newfound regard for the greats, but mostly, true devotion to his craft leads to a concoction of crushing hope.

— Jenna Depasquale

What has the journey of Anicon looked like thus far, and how has it lead up to the upcoming release of Entropy Mantra?

Anicon have been writing together for about eight years now. We’ve played a lot of shows, toured a fair bit, played some festivals, and written a lot of music leading up to the new album. Eight years allows for a lot of change and growth musically and personally, and I think every one of us is in a different place than when we first started playing together. Our musical output is a pretty good documentation of where we were when it was written.

What I’ve gotten to hear from Entropy Mantra thus far has a very empowering feel through its melodic elements, as opposed to a lot of other stuff right now that’s super doomy and glum. I’m curious to know who you guys were listening to during the recording process. European bands, maybe?

I think Entropy Mantra is the heaviest and darkest of our releases so far, even though it maintains a good degree of melody. The general approach is to make the most compelling music we can, so I think that necessitates covering a lot of ground musically and trying to push ourselves. We really went out of our way to avoid certain writing tendencies and tried to find new solutions to things this time.

During the recording process the only thing being listened to was the new material, but leading up to it there were a lot of things we took influence from. Definitely some European bands, but maybe not what you might expect. Soul Reaper, Akercocke, Nephasth (who are Brazilian). We did a tour with Wayfarer while we were writing for the album, so their stuff was in my mind at times. I really admire the playing of Trey Azagthoth and John Christ and spent some long stints listening to them. I know Nolan (vocals, guitars) was really working on his chops watching Jeff Loomis and Michael Angelo Batio videos. Alex (bass) was working on a lot of stuff by Virus and Stargazer for a while. There was some watching of live Primordial videos and listening to [Satyricon’s] Rebel Extravaganza — it’s such an incredible album, and I don’t think I really appreciated it at the time.

While some black metal can, of course, be overblown for the sake of being overblown, Anicon seems to focus more on being technically sound. What inspires you to deliver darkness and brutality within the composition of the music itself, rather than grandiose aesthetics or personas?

We just don’t have much interest in that kind of representation — I rarely find it to be sincere and more often than not it’s predictable and uninteresting, often accompanying weak riffs. Of course this isn’t a rule, but we would personally rather work on our music than our costumes. That’s not intended to sound divisive, we just don’t give a shit about that stuff.

Being that you guys are from the biggest city in the U.S. and probably see a lot of bands come through Saint Vitus, how would you describe USBM at the moment, and where do you consider your place to be in it all?

There are a lot of shows coming through here, but I’m not sure I can really paint an overarching theme to American black metal. It’s such a massive, diverse country that we live in. I guess the biggest trend I see is a blurring of genre boundaries and a general openness of dialogue surrounding bands. Part of that likely has to do with social media and a level of access that people wouldn’t have had, say, 10 or 15 years ago. That’s maybe also contributed to a bit of an erosion of regional sounds but has also probably provided influence and direction to people that might not have had it otherwise. I don’t think any of us really consider our place in it, we just try and write the music we want to hear and play.

Summer plans! What do you guys have booked?

We’re all so active with so many projects it takes a bit of planning for us to put together a tour and we’re pretty selective about what shows we’re willing to play as a result. We will be performing Entropy Mantra in its entirety on July 11 at Brooklyn Bazaar as part of a really excellent lineup. We’re all looking forward to that. It’s also looking like we may be leaving the continent for the first time later this year.

Entropy Mantra releases on June 19 via Vendetta Records. Follow Anicon on Facebook.

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