Anamor are a 6-piece progressive rock-oriented band from Plock in Poland. Having been formed towards the end of the last century they released their first album, Imagincje in 2003, and now, a mere 15 years later comes this follow up. I'm not sure why there has been such a gap between releases, and it's probably none of my business. But having begun strongly with the debut it is fair to say that Za Witrażem which translates as Behind The (Stained Glass?) Window will be well received by those who may have thought that Anamor were a fleeting entity which faded away, and will also be welcomed by a new generation of fans.
Clearly the emphasis is on quality rather than quantity. Anamor might not have a high profile, or be too prolific, but what they do, they do very well. This is neo-prog of a high order. Hard riffing guitar mixes with symphonic keyboards and moments of pastoral intricacy. Marek Misiak on guitar may not always be flash, but he is certainly effective, impressively pulling a range of styles out of his toolkit, from heavy doomy riffs, to scintillating shred and pastoral acoustic work. The two keyboard players produce a big beefed up sound and doing the honours on vocals, Marta Głowacka provides a powerful, lyrical lead. It takes a rare talent to front a big sound like this with conviction and she is more than up to the job. Yet another fine Polish female vocalist. Those who lament the lack of influence (or indeed often presence) of women in prog rock, will take some solace from the talent roster assembled on Lynx records, and ask why others can't follow suit. As the song titles suggest, this is an album of many colours and hues, stained glass and emeralds, uplifting with the emphasis on being in the ascendant and so the arrangements glitter and soar. Only Pusty List (Empty Letter) hints at something more downbeat. The two longest tracks deliberately bookend the collection the title track itself being a triumphant example of what Anamor can do, tender vocals and low key bass with a traditional tinge, transmute into a formidable flexing of symphonic muscle, the triumphant climactic instrumental dances like sun flickering through a crystal, at once a flash of clarity in a fleeting moment which dies on a final soaring ring. It is very much to the credit of this band that everything in between the two extended pieces maintains the same high level of quality.
So will it be another 15 years before we hear from Anamor again? I really hope not, but in the meantime we can be grateful for this thoroughly enjoyable 50 minutes spent in the company of these musicians and their blend of hard rock which never descends into lumpen noise and symphonic rock which doesn't forget it's hard rock heart.
**** Andrew Cottrell
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