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Label: Silent Watcher Records

Date: November 7th, 2020

With over twenty years of existence and just a couple of releases in the meantime, Anguish Sublime is hardly your hardest working band. However, with just five years since their previous release, an EP called “Thornwinged”, the level reached on “Maelstrom Imperium” is absolutely stunning!

Simply put, this duo takes its time to always develop their sound and take it on the path they desire. Still, there is this ever present danger of overly complicating matters to a point where the final product becomes a meaningless abuse of musical instruments. Anguish Sublime, luckily, knows where to place the borderline. Speaking of compositional borderline here, of course, as the genre these Serbians tread upon is stretched to the maximum.

Looking for an easy way out of this review, I could use atmospheric death / doom metal as the closest reference. But, an album as layered as “Maelstrom Imperium” undoubtedly is cannot be simply put aside as just another one in the myriad of death / doom projects breathing the condensed air of the scene.

Let me draw attention to a couple of fragments here. First off, the jazzy eclipse of “The Next Apocalypse”. A mesmerizing addition to an overly aggressive tune, yet implemented to wind down naturally into the unexpected. Another captivating moment comes by in the finale of “Mesmerized in Asphyxiated Delight”. An acoustic piece, reminiscent of Pink Floyd, which closes the doom laden song.

Seemingly, neither of the two mentioned parts cannot fit into music Anguish Sublime offer. But they do, miraculously, proving that there are many more aspects in which the genre itself can progress further.

On another note, one of the key features of “Maelstrom Imperium” is the melodic line. More precisely, and again almost impossible to fit in, death metal side of the album goes more along the melodic side of the genre. Brutality is not neglected completely, but it does fall to second place, leaving the lead to a more atmospheric stream.

Speaking of brutality, within these more violent episodes (yes, these are episodes, rather than prevalent factors) one can even find a black metal input that further enriches the already brimming compositions.

Now, with all that has already been said, Anguish Sublime have masterfully implemented keyboards into the mix, too. These are also finely tuned and get their fair share of spotlight, even if the majority of emotional side of the release is crafted by the “regular” metal instruments. Still, among them is hardly a “leader” present. Even within the guitar solos that are almost omnipresent, there is quite enough of bass guitar and drum presence. All of which makes for an extremely dynamic album, with a flow not often thought through on similar releases.

Looking for flaws one would definitely need to be nit-picking. There are some your humble reviewer spotted. Some things I would prefer to be done a slightly different way. However, I have decided to shut up. Doesn’t even matter. This release is excellent, if you ask me. I’m just letting go. Letting this record spin. Letting Anguish Sublime take over.


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