Location: Chicago, Illinois
Genre: Experimental post-punk/doom metal
Full length: Black Openings
Format: Vinyl, white vinyl, cassette, CD, digital album
Release date: February 24, 2023
In "Black Openings", Anatomy Of Habit continues a journey toward self-discovery left off in their previous album "Even If It Takes A Lifetime". Their musicianship feels like this journey has taken many lifetimes, suggesting a natural rapport that has remained consistent despite constant changes in the lineup. When musicians with similar mindsets work together toward the same goal, the chemistry sounds undeniably willing and volitional.
The band utilizes their own resources to redefine progressive rock and improvisational songwriting, experimenting with many darkened shades without being overly technical or cramming too many notes into their songs. With their epoch-making approach to doom metal, goth, post-punk and other genres, they arrive close to the imaginative fervor that Rush and Peter Gabrkiel-fronted Genesis had in the seventies, also calling to mind more obscure acts like Dario Argento’s Goblin.
Anatomy Of Habit emphasizes subtle differences in sound with "Black Openings" over "Even If It Takes a Lifetime" which had early inklings of those differences while being generally more straightforward. There is no distinction between the divergent subgenres of doom metal, industrial, shoegaze, post-punk, deathrock, and psychedelia influencing this recording. Overall, the effect is both unsettling and soothing at the same time. This duality is experienced by all of us at varying degrees.
Anatomy Of Habit takes their time to explain this. As a first impression of "Black Openings," the title track features looping bass lines, distant guitars, thunderous percussion, vibrating vocals, and a profusion of atmosphere and noise. Mark Solottroff describes becoming one with the darkness surrounding him to get through long days, weeks, and months with careful, calculated diction leaning toward a post-punk/goth style.
Slowly shifting paradigms are represented by tranquil guitars and ambient noise that sound trippy and nightmare-like before returning to its previous mood with a fresh riff pattern and anguished vocals. With a runtime of over eighteen minutes, it makes me think of the experimental horror movie Skinamarink by Kyle Edward Ball, which builds on the impression of a nightmare you don't quite remember when you wake up. It seems Anatomy Of Habit is the sonic equivalent to these images.
A mixture of doom and shoegaze, "Formal Consequences" features higher noise levels and a stronger sense of isolation with quieter passages and somber vocals. Slowly, Solottroff moves beyond mundane love and loss, the diffusion of the old self, and complex hindrances to natural creativity as the darkness of the previous song is being transcended. The listening experience may take more time than the public's attention span allows, but it is well worth the effort.
As for the final track, "Breathing Through Bones" keeps the shoegaze vibe with a cleaner repetitive bass line and haunting vocal drones. Despite its solemnity and graveness, it doesn't so much sink into a pit of despair as to reestablish contact with the self and the human psyche that pushes us forward. "Even If It Takes a Lifetime" ends with a hint of the journey's continuation, but little by little we'll get to that place where, as the band states, “Now we finally know ourselves.” –Dave Wolff
Mark Solotroff: Vocals, analog synth
Alex Latus: Guitar
Sam Wagster: Bass, lap steel, piano, keyboard
Skyler Rowe: Drums, vibraphone
Isidro Reyes: Metal percussion
1. Black Openings
2. Formal Consequences
3. Breathing Through Bones