Anacondas are a bizarre little project. Stuart and James Hunter are ex members of metalcore legends Johnny Truant, but this fact is pretty irrelevant when you hear what Anacondas sound like. With the addition of drummer Timothy Newman, the band have created an intriguing blend of doom and grunge that is lead with some pleasant, almost shoegazey singing that only occasionally becomes a yell.
Sub Contra Blues is the band’s debut album and it clocks in at a solid 38 minutes with enough riff worship to satisfy your average headbanger. As mentioned before, the band’s sound is a pretty unique blend of doom and grunge that fans of Cave In and even Mastodon will find things to latch onto.
“Now hold on”, I hear you say; “didn’t you say Anacondas sounded doomy?” Well yes, in the sense that a lot of their riffs are massive, down-tuned affairs that are given plenty of room to ring out. But when the band are given an opportunity to showcase their technical abilities they turn out some enormous riffs like the one featured at the beginning of High Horse. It’s these moments that really set Anacondas’ music apart from the rest. Not only are they blending genres like a pro, but they’re also finding opportunities to add lovely little prog flourishes to their music that add a very unique layer to the overall package.
The main issue with the album is that these moments are few and far between. The whole release meanders along at the same tempo and the down-tuned guitars are so bottom heavy that you rarely get to appreciate a melody. When the music moves up the fretboard even the slightest, Anacondas’ music really benefits from the added clarity.
Also, the shared vocals between all 3 members means the album has a problem with consistency. We generally enjoyed Anacondas better when the vocalists were shouting as it worked with the sludgy grooves far better than the alt-rock crooning.
You can’t deny that Anacondas are a band with a tonne of great ideas, but Sub Contra Blues proves that maybe they don’t all work that well together. There are moments of pure brilliance locked away in this record and with some added focus they could be the driving factor in a future Anacondas release. Is this album a failure? Maybe. But it’s certainly an admirable one at that and one that’s massively intriguing which can’t be said about a lot of bands’ music.
Anacondas’ Sub Contra Blues is available to download now.