Anatomy Of Habit
Released: February 24, 2023
Chicago’s Anatomy Of Habit return with Black Openings, the follow-up to 2021’s Even If It Takes A Lifetime.
I always get a kick out of bands that truly are impossible to pigeon-hole into but one musical category. This is something that an ocean of musicians claim, yet but a select few actually achieve. Despite being able to say that a certain passage is influenced by another artist, Anatomy Of Habit are proving themselves to be one of the more illusive artists.
Just when you think you’ve got them pinpointed, they throw a wrench into the gears and everything evolves into another sonic direction. Musical eclecstasy. A hybrid of doom metal, post-punk, death rock, early-industrial, psychedelic, and shoegaze; there’s no telling what to expect next. Thematically, the album continues to elaborate on Mark Solotroff’s expressions of love and loss, the abstracted and vanishing self, and complexities within the creative process. It further explores the concept of obliteration, and it propels the idea to a dreadful new terminus point.
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Listening to Anatomy Of Habit gives off a really cumbersome, tragic and morose atmosphere, sort of like a darker, more twisted incarnation of the great Joy Division. Not so much through the actual music but the vocals of Solotroff seem heavily influenced by the works of Ian Curtis or by Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance. Solemn and almost done in elongated speech – like words stretched thin, but by doing so, giving them an interesting node of desperation or despair. Struggle and strife.
Musically, there is a lot going on. The three tracks that form Black Openings total just under forty minutes worth of run time – with the shortest track being north of nine minutes in length. That creates room for Anatomy Of Habit to explore multiple musical styles in each number. Each track is virtually a separate entity. On the title track, Black Openings, the mood changes at least three times through its eighteen minute lifetime. From the morose, into almost dark ambient territory and finally into a more aggressive and haunted segment that ends with Solotroff almost chanting the song name. Three distinct movements that range from a calmer opening section, to an extended atmospheric instrumental passage, to an escalating mass of pure heaviness.
On Formal Consequences, we again see various parts sewn together to form a complete act. That illusiveness I mentioned before is in full effect here. Solotoff isn’t the most talented of singers, but the way he delivers his vocals shines. Simple and to the point, almost monotone and with a drone-like quality, it fits perfectly over the music that Anatomy Of Habit are crafting. It’s almost hypnotic which, again, fits the overall aesthetic of the group.
Finally, on Breathing Through Bones, we see Anatomy Of Habit treading Sólstafir-esque grounds, with a wonderfully bleak introductory riff that takes its sweet time to warm into a Joy Division like passage. Fans of the aforementioned would understand if I spoke of how much darker their second album was – and that is the vibe that is explored here. Perhaps an unlikely duo of sounds to bring together, but it works so well. Imagine the first person to think up a poutine way back in day; an eclectic Quebecer that thought throwing curd cheese and gravy on his fries would be a great idea. Which, it fucking is, and is now a staple of Quebecois culture.
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What I’m trying to say is that innovation often comes from pairing elements or aspects of known commodities together in ways nobody has yet thought of dared to do. Musical eclecstasy. What Anatomy Of Habit are able to do on but three tracks is both remarkable and commendable. Their ability to forge soundscapes, using the sort of elements that you might expect to hear on a field-recording into the fray, like the droning chime of a bell or metal object used for percussion – is fantastic.
Copies of Black Openings, the new opus from Anatomy Of Habit, can be purchased off of the groups bandcamp page. There are vinyl, compact disc, cassette and digital versions for your perusal. Pick wisely.
For Fans Of: King Woman, Joy Division, Mammifer
01. Black Openings
02. Formal Consequences
03. Breathing Through Bones