Swedish straight edge band Anchor released its third full length Distance & Devotion on Bengans this month, a year and a half after they started recording the album. I was waiting in anticipation as I’m a big fan of The Quiet Dance (2008) and Discovery (2011). Anchor itself claims the album is a 11-track hard and heavy rock album full of frustration, personal struggles and firm convictions. If that doesn’t get you interested in this album I don’t know what will.
The first notes of ‘Upstream’ grab your attention immediately. A happy lead introduces the track followed by a darker riff that initiates a song that will stick in your head. ‘Upstream’ is the perfect example what this album holds in store; a melodic rock sound with screaming vocals, and lyrics that have a positive message. In the chorus Claes screams: “I’ll keep my head up high. I’ll live before I die. Two words, live free.”
Anchor really knew what they wanted with this album. A bunch of tracks have that specific Anchor-sound but each song sounds really different from one another. Tracks like ‘Survival’ and ‘Losing Faith’ for example, are a mix of the melodic rock sound and a Bridge Nine type of hardcore in vein of Verse and Have Heart. ‘Roads Unknown’ sounds like a La Dispute song. It’s a song that starts small and fragile and keeps getting louder and louder till the break where all hell breaks loose and the band starts singing: “No matter what comes my way. Defiant I’ll stay until my final day.” And ‘Hope Dies Last’ sounds like a Comeback Kid song but with a specific Anchor sound dripping over it. It’s one of the best songs on the album.
Another thing I like about this record is the song structure. A lot of the songs start strong but then go slower. It gives the harder parts of the album an extra boost and let the slower parts be intimate and small. This works really well on this album and gives the tracks just a little bit more. Album closer ‘Nightcrawler’ has two distinctive parts that do this, just before the chorus. This track is a really energetic song with some gang vocals that help this song be a real crowd pleaser. Again, the lyrics to this song are really intense and great to shout back at the vocalist. It really expresses what this album is about: “Tonight is ours. Tonight’s alive. We’ll do whatever it takes. We’ll live our lives against the grain.”
Anchor did a great job with this album. Distance & Devotion is a great recorded whether you listen to it for first or thousandth time. You always discover something new in it and it has a lot of good lyrics that people will relate to and sing along to live. This is definitely one of the better albums that you will hear this year. Go see them live on their European tour alongside Crooked Letter and at Smashfest with All For Nothing, Rolo Tomassi, Venom Prison and others.
Track list – Distance & Devotion:
1. Upstream ft. Aram Arslanian
2. Into the Storm
5. Losing Faith
6. To Hell and Back
7. Out of the Storm
8. Roads Unknown
10. Hope Dies Last ft. Julian Lau de Manos
11. Nightcrawler ft. Rory van Grol
Written by Victor de Meijier