(All Album Reviews by Burgess Penguin)
There's a passage in the Bible that talks about making a joyful noise. This group of four feisty Swedes can get very noisy in the most delightful post-King Crimsonesque way, that's for certain! You can definitely hear the utter abandon and joy they infuse in their musical forays, even though this is definitely NOT what you would call happy-slappy Hallmark Card music.
For those unfamiliar with Anekdoten, try to imagine a wonderful melding of Red or Starless--- period King Crimson, Stone Temple Pilots heavy crunch/grunge, driven along by thundering Zehul/Magma-esque fuzz bass.
In addition to putting some extra fangs into material from the previous albums (Vemod and Nucleus), we see them trying out new material that would later wind up on From Within. Among the newer songs, "Slow Fire" (one of the band's most hypnotic pieces) and "Groundbound (a mysterious sounding rumination into the human psyche) are the highlights. Older material like the instrumental "Karelia", "Old Man And The Sea" and "Thoughts In Absence" gain added fire, urgency and poignancy in a live setting.
One of Anekdoten's most endearing qualities among its fans is the liberal use of the mellotron. Not only do they employ the usual spine-chilling crowd-pleasing sounds like strings, choirs and flutes, but they also employ far lesser used sounds like clarinet, bassoon, oboe and vibes (used to gloriously spooky effect on "Groundbound"). The other key parts of Anekdoten's blustery, windswept and wintry soundscapes are Ani Sofia Dahlberg's mournful cello and Peter Nordin's insistent power drumming. Guitarist/Keyboardist Nikolas Berg has definitely studied his Robert Fripp and also added some grunge as well.
Ahh, the drawbacks (there are very few though). In the singing department, bassist Jan Erik Liljeström and Nikolas trade off lead vocal duties, but in all honesty, neither really stands out. They're certainly not grating or unlistenable by any stretch, but a lead vocalist with a strong musical personality would be a great addition here. The only other quibble is a couple of jams that seem to hit dead ends and are uncertain what to do with themselves ("Road to Nowhere" and "Tabatha").
Of course, even the best live recordings can never capture the full fury and detail of a great performance, that is something that has to be experienced in person (if there were any justice at all, bands like Anekdoten would be touring regularly and no-talents like Britney Spears and Kid Rock would be laboring in deserved obscurity, but I digress). Until a time comes when Anekdoten can grace our shores more often, this thunderous live offering is the next best thing to being there!