Chapters is a retrospective of Anekdoten’s first 14 years, including some previously unreleased treats for their fans. “When I Turn” was written in 1997 but not recorded until this year, and several demo versions of previously released tunes make this compilation worthwhile for long-time fans and newbies. The first song ever written by the band, “Sad Rain” (previously released only as a bonus track on the Japanese version of their first album) is also included. These oddities might intrigue the Anekdoten buffs out there, but they are more or less similar to the rest of the songs.
I don’t mean to say any of the two-disc set was unenjoyable. It’s all highly crafted, intelligent art rock with solid instrumental performances. Anekdoten play broad, symphonic music with a dark atmosphere. They’re often called ‘neo progressive rock’ after the 1970’s ‘progressive rock’ (King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Yes) they descend from. Some who don’t already have a taste for it might chuckle at the melodramatic tone in prog, but it’s easy to get used to. Progressive rockers generally draw from classical music and Anekdoten seems inspired by gloomy romantic composers like Grieg and Mahler. For a clue about the mood of the album check out the cover art. Like the artwork, the music is mysterious and somber, and would make a fitting soundtrack to a Grimm fairy tale. In line with their brainy prog rock forebearers, Anekdoten use odd-numbered beats, long instrumentals, and instruments heard in classical music like flutes and violins. Their lyrics also lean progressive with surreal imagery, highly poetic language, and heavy themes.
But these hard rocking Swedes aren’t throwbacks. They have their own sound and they brought hard rock closer to ‘nu metal’ bands like Slipknot. I was surprised by how much “Old Man and the Sea,” actually one of their earliest tracks, sounded like nu metal (fortunately there’s no gutteral screaming). I recommend this two-hour-plus Anekdoten-fest. With its severe air, you might think of it for your next Halloween party.