Easily shattered is the uneasy silence, a fragile truce between the facade of serenity and the chaos raging from within; so easily shattered a pin prick could trigger the precarious eruption of noise waiting to escape the dark. So you walk the fine line amidst a cloud of falling debris, smoke and dust slowly filling your lungs, as you struggle coming to terms with the abrupt moment your world stopped making sense, when a handful of seconds were obliterated into smithereens before time ceased its ruthless march forward. That moment, time aged significantly, and an age passes between the vacuous silence and the shriek blasting from your mouth pierces the illusory stillness. Anthaupt, the latest opus from Switzerland’s soul-crushing maestros Soldat Hans, exists in that moment, born out of imminence and growing second by second in a continually alienating world, waiting for the perfect moment to tear down the veil of the modern life architecture and leave you anew.
There is no simple way of categorising Anthaupt, nor is there any straightforward means of conveying the sombre turbulence it beckons: it is a nuclear winter of alluring beauty as much as it is a a glimmer of hope within inevitable demise. Inundated with sobering layers of melancholia and calamity, the record continuously accomodates our vulnerabilities within its looming structures before violently detonating our safe havens into crumbling prisons of stone – and we allow it this pleasure again and again for over an hour. And yet, there is something comforting, even jubilatory, within lying trapped in these collapsed walls of towering, perfectly compositioned sound; by album’s end we submit ourselves fully to its tumultuous promise of escape, even if, as the cacophonic dirge of ‘Jubilant Howl’ climaxes, we know we have to give up a piece of ourselves in the process.
And yet, Anthaupt is not the kind of album you would willingly choose to escape from; no matter how claustrophobic or volatile the album’s dissonance becomes, nor how tragic the anguish flooding through every one of its nooks and crannies, you remain enveloped, nestled in the limitless layers of trombones and cellos, of screeching guitars, of utterly moving memories as in ‘Eighty-two Percent Chance of Rain’, a movement which, fair warning, will lull you into a total false of security, just in time for the title track to ignite cascading shockwaves from its explosive epicentre. But it is within the ravishing ennui of the colossal ‘Speechwriter’, a relentless diatribe birthed out of excruciating tensions between the delicate and the discordant, where the record reaches its harrowing apex, a brutal powderkeg so elegant and destructive calm can only be restored by the monumental despair of ‘Horse Funeral’ for in its wake lies nothing but spirit-shattering entropy.
A celebration of slow decay, where every rested breath serves a purpose, Anthaupt is nothing short of triumphant, a staggering achievement in sonic artistry that never fails to suck you into its collapsing vortex, continually stripping you bare and putting you back together. It overflows with heartfelt aching, puncturing wounds that cannot be healed aside from the imbibing of every swelling motif and every scream it revels in, and you find yourself helplessly returning to it searching for that comfort. Powerfully overwhelming, it knocks you off your feet, hurtling you in a vacuum as the sky turns sepia against the rubble, with only its maelstrom of crescendoing eruptions penetrating the fraudulent calm. This is the wake up call we so desperately needed.