Vital Vinyl: Anagnorisis Talk ‘Beyond All Light’ LP
In 2013, Louisville’s premiere black metal outfit Anagnorisis released their second studio album, ‘Beyond All Light,’ digitally, as a CD and also as a very limited cassette tape. A year later, the blasphemous rockers find themselves celebrating the album for a new reason: ‘Beyond All Light’ has been pressed and is available to fans as several different color vinyl editions.
Not only is this the first time ‘Beyond All Light’ has seen a proper vinyl release, it’s actually the band’s first time dealing with this format on a professional level. Fortunately for fans of wax and black metal, guitarist Zak Denham and keyboardist Sam Hartman spent some time with Loudwire and discussed all things related to the new release.
First off, a huge congrats on ‘Beyond All Light.’ It’s a great story, from the self-release to the CD version to the cassette. Now, vinyl nuts like me can spin it in multiple colors! How happy are you to finally see this album pressed on vinyl?
Zak Denham: It has always been a dream of ours to release something on vinyl. Especially now that we are on this side of the project, it is clear that producing a vinyl record is the most respectful way to represent music in a tangible form. As this was our first vinyl release, it was a learning experience. We are all very happy now that everything has been released and distributed. It’s great that people seem to really appreciate all the effort we put into this.
That effort includes the experience you created around it for collectors by offering multiple colors pressed on 150-gram wax and housed in an old-school fold over sleeve. Why go to the effort – both time and financial – of releasing this album on vinyl?
Zak: Digitally releasing our music has always been a given for us as there are plenty of people who only listen to music digitally. Even then we try to respect our music through the format. CDs and cassettes are cool mediums, but they are seen as souvenirs. In my opinion, vinyl has always been the pinnacle of music technology. Unlike any other format, playing vinyl forces you to be more involved in listening. Sitting at home and listening to music as a past time – without doing other distracting s–t — may be seen as a thing of the past to some, but I think this may be changing with the new vinyl revolution.
Anagnorisis strive to provide the listener with such an interesting aural, lyrical, visual and sentimental experience that listening to our record in their home provides just as unique an experience as seeing us perform live. We wanted all aspects of the vinyl release to display our respect for the music. Vinyl almost forces you to develop a listening ritual. This can often lead to a deeper connection and respect for the music. We take what we do very seriously and want to empower the listener with the materials to experience our music as deeply as we do.
How important is vinyl to you personally?
Zak: Vinyl often sounds better than other formats and always feels better. I believe I am closer to the music, more in touch with the message the artist intended for me. The culture surrounding vinyl is very important to me as well. I am reminded of this great Amanda Palmer quote: “It’s not just the ability to touch, see and smell an album and the artwork … it’s the fact that you are in a Real Place with Real People … and not just any people: other music-obsessed freaks like you. I discovered so many bands by just hanging out, talking to shopkeepers, getting recommendations from some random dude …. Every time I am in a different city on tour, I make a point to hit the indie retail record stores to see what they’re spinning and selling, because I just love being there … my own personal and sometimes anonymous church. You can’t get that feeling sitting behind your computer, ever.” I couldn’t agree more!
How important do you think vinyl is to the metal scene?
Zak: Vinyl seems to be something people are enthusiastic about regardless of genre. With CD sales plummeting everyday and digital, well, just being lame, I think more and more people are turning to buying records as not only their way to listen to music, but also to support artists they like. The collectibility of records seems to really help the momentum of this influx in sales. With labels like Blood Music and Throatruiner releasing such elaborate and sincere vinyl packages how could someone not be interested? Throatruiner even let’s you download their releases in MP3 format first. Labels that embrace this concept and provide near museum quality products are the future of underground and indie music.
Can you talk about the painting used for the cover art, ‘The Enigma’ by Gustave Doré? Why did you choose it for ‘Beyond All Light’?
Zak: My vision for the album cover was to make it look and feel like a museum piece. Something that had no text, logos or other branding to crowd the aesthetic. Something that almost seemed out of place among other metal records. This had to be accomplished in a cost and time effective way. This led us to look for art that we could repurpose or integrate into our own design concept. ‘The Enigma’ was not my first choice for cover art. I am a huge fan of Odd Nerdrum and ideally wanted to license one of his many pieces that I found to be applicable. This of course was neither considerate to our budget or timeline.
I am also a fan of Gustave Doré’s work. Although mostly known for his engravings, his other sculpture and oil work is fantastic. Due to the age of his work, everything falls in the public domain, allowing us to use whatever we want without involving the law. ‘The Enigma’ conveys a scene of depressing warfare centering on the anguish of the fallen. We believe this defeating emotion, delivered in this manner conveys an appropriate message to accompany the story that takes place on ‘Beyond All Light.’
Sam Hartman: Taking that a little further, ‘The Enigma’ was actually Doré’s response to the French defeat at the hands of the Germans – Prussians at the time – and the overwhelming sadness and despair that he saw. The hopelessness of the woman asking the Sphinx for answers and the bleak colors, these all fit well into the gloomy mood of the lyrics on ‘Beyond All Light.’
When I first dropped the needle on this record, it was obvious this was meant to be heard on a turntable. Each song bled perfectly into the next, and even the flipping of Side A to Side B seemed pre-meditated. When you went through the writing and recording process, how do the different potential formats affect your focus?
Zak: We have heard this sentiment a lot since the ‘Beyond All Light’ vinyl release. The album was written with this format in mind. Multiple ideas were conceived and laid out in a two part, six-chapter form. The overarching design of ‘Beyond All Light’ set up an arena for me to take advantage of larger song forms, repeated rhythmic and melodic ideas, and numerous other sonic details that helped correlate each chapter into the whole story.
Anagnorisis are no strangers to line-up changes. How has the past affected where you’re at as a band today?
Sam: I think each period in Anagnorisis’ history has resulted in a significant, time-appropriate piece of where we were, from the lyrics and material that Austin Lunn wrote, to the vocal styles on ‘Alpha & Omega,’ and even how short ‘Ghosts of Our Fathers’ was. It all led up to ‘Beyond All Light,’ but adding Chris Smith and Josh Mumford most recently allowed the live show to really take on something new and exciting. We try to push the envelope in that arena, and I think that groundwork had been laid ever since Anagnorisis first started. We’ve always been playing aggressive in-your-face live shows, from 2005 on.
Is there any new music that you’re really digging today?
Zak: When it comes to heavier and aggressive music, I have been into the newest Aosoth, Martyrdöd, Yautja, Infiri and Calvaiire albums. It has been hard to get away from the newest Lana Del Ray, Chelsea Wolf, Death in June and Front Porch Step records as well. I just discovered Neutral Milk Hotel and both their albums have been spinning a lot lately.
Sam: The Russian Circles album that came out last year, ‘Memorial,’ has been on constantly in my car. I also really dig the new Calvaiire, along with Anup Sastry, Vattnet Viskar, Throwdown, and I’m pretty stoked to hear the new Lord Mantis.
Gearing up for a tour and continued celebration of ‘Beyond All Light’…what’s on the horizon for Anagnorisis?
Sam: More touring, more metal, more blasphemy. Thanks for the support and we’ll see you on the road!
Anagnorisis, ‘Beyond All Light’