Anzi was born in Finland and is based in London. New album ‘Black Dog Bias’ is the follow-up to his debut solo album, ‘High Class Motherfucker’. The idea for this second album started as a result of Anzi’s love of large, dark-coated dogs, such as Dobermans and his realisation of people’s preconceptions and sensitivity to such dogs. According to the press release that came with this album, he also began to wonder, “what else in this world do we tend to fear and pass over without better knowledge?” This became the starting point to ‘Black Dog Bias’. The press release accompanying the album also states that “it explores our subconscious fears and prejudices, and sets its findings to a modern-yet-organic soundtrack of growling, fuzz-distorted guitars, industrial malice, and storming, danceable synthpop hooks”. Apparently, the album “is a mongrel beast, mixing diverse influences, which reflect Anzi’s own vibrant and varied musical journey to date.”
Anzi wrote and recorded the album in Helsinki, London, New York, and Egypt. He produced the album himself and played most of the instruments, before mastering was carried out by Dave Collins (QOTSA, Soundgarden, Linkin Park, and Alice Cooper) [based in Los Angeles]. The finishing touches were added by the following collaborators - guitarist Ben Christo (Sisters of Mercy), African Djembe player Ike Chime, and Katariina Souri (Finnish author, former Playboy Playmate, and Anzi’s ex-wife), who also co-wrote a number of the lyrics. According to the album’s sleeve notes, the following musicians are also mentioned … Miikki Kunttu (drums) and Toni Hintikka (bass), with Anzi taking up duties on vocals, guitars, synths, and programming. Not to mention a host of additional musicians as well.
Honestly, I’ve experienced a complete lack of inspiration to sit and write a review for this album. The listening experience, to put it politely, has been an extremely difficult one, with very little available to help inspire me to review the material on disc. Because of this, I’ve decided to write this review in a different style to my usual work. Quite frankly, I’m not too impressed with the album. To be honest, even the cover artwork gave me reservations about listening and reviewing this album - a picture of a vicious looking black dog with the album title and Anzi’s logo thrown together for good measure. Whilst having a kind of punk feel to it, it just seems hastily thrown together for the sake of it. A bit poor by today’s standards, in my opinion.
Things start off rather well with ‘Revival’ and ‘I Let You Dive’. Both tracks have a certain heaviness to them with up-tempo and pulsing beats from the drums, bass, guitars, and electronic synths. Both have a good rhythm to them, especially the latter, which consists of some good guitar-play as well. However, even at this stage, I’m not liking Anzi’s vocal style much and it’s already starting to get on my nerves a little. But persevere I must. My perseverance pays off (for the moment anyway) as a wall of shattering bass lines introduces ‘Cortex Command’ before things calm down a little for Anzi’s vocals to enter. The heaviness resumes though with a good, heavy beat/bass throughout. Again, the “heavy” sections are indeed heavy, but I’m just not getting the vocals.
Things continue through the industrial sounding ‘Fear Is No Prophecy’ and ‘God On The Screen’. However, halfway through the latter I’m finding that this listening experience is turning into a constant struggle and I’m fighting everything within my power not to switch off. ‘False Saints’ begins well with some good riffs before changing and going in a completely different direction as Anzi’s vocals come in. NO!! Too mainstream/pop for me! Thankfully a heavier industrial sound starts off ‘Sunburn Jesus’, which contains a good bass line with good rhythm. But, again, those vocals are really grating on me, and the voice in my head is urging me to skip to the next track. Then ‘Big Enemy’ begins with excellent rhythm, riffs, and pace. More to the point, this continues throughout the entire three and a half minutes of this track. This is a memorable track and I like it. Hopefully things will pick up from now on.
‘Nuclear Sire’ begins with a rather catchy riff before some pounding bass and drums join in proceedings. This track contains catchy chorus sections, but despite it having quite good rhythm and pace, is rather poor. The lyrics are rather lame as well, especially the sections – “She could never harm a fly …” It’s just not grabbing my attention and keeping me hooked. The final two tracks are both big turn-offs for me … “Delusions” was a complete waste of my time and effort. I just didn’t like it at all and the same goes for final track … a radio edit version of “I Let You Dive”. Basically the same as track two except containing more electronic/synthpop rubbish and with a shorter running time than the original. This track smells of “album-filler” or “bonus track”. Quite frankly, I don’t care, just get rid of it!
It is evident that Anzi has put a lot of effort into making this album, which is why I am giving a generous 4 out of 10. However, it’s just not for me and I believe it is an acquired taste. While the musicianship is good on its own, the songs neither have melody, definitive structure, nor chord progression. This is a key element if you are promoting a sound that you want to compare with Killing Joke or Nine Inch Nails. I’m a metalhead and love heavy metal. Yes, I like some industrial metal, like Rammstein and Nine Inch Nails. I also enjoy artists like Killing Joke, Billy Idol, and Iggy Pop (to a certain extent), but this album is nowhere near their calibre. I just cannot get my head around ‘Black Dog Bias’, no matter how many times I have now listened to it. To be honest, this album was an extremely difficult listening experience and I had to do everything within my power to not stop the album and throw my headphones across the room. I’m sure there are people out there who will dig this and spend their hard-earned cash on it, but not me. ‘Black Dog Bias’ is for Anzi fans only and they are more than welcome to have my copy!
Chemistry Music Ent
BLACK DOG BIAS
Review by Chris Palmer
22nd June 2015
2) I Let You Dive
3) Cortex Command
4) Fear is No Prophecy
5) God on the Screen
6) False Saints
7) Sunburn Jesus
8) Big Enemy
9) Nuclear Sire
11) I Let You Dive - Radio Edit
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"While the musicianship is good on its own, the songs neither have melody, definitive structure, nor chord progression. This is a key element if you are promoting a sound that you want to compare with Killing Joke or Nine Inch Nails."