Review: Kenn Nardi – Dancing With the Past

2023
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Do you remember the days when blast beats weren’t a necessity to a metal drummer’s arsenal? Do you remember the days when you had to mail-order your metal swag from record sleeve inserts? JAG remembers. And if I were a gambling man, I would bet my money that JAG and anybody else who appreciates old school metal still daring to innovate will love this album. NO WEEDILIES, NO DEEDILIES.

The second I decided that I had to write a review for Kenn Nardi’s Dancing With the Past, I knew I would be in for a tricky process. To give a brief summary of the band, Kenn Nardi is essentially an extension of the seminal alternative thrash band Anacrusis, just without any of the other members in the picture (besides some guest writing and performance spots). In their career, Anacrusis came out with four fulllength albums, each one progressing and – in this author’s humble opinion – improving upon the latter. This eventually led to the creation of their 4th and final full-length album, Screams and Whispers, which is widely considered within their fanbase as their crowning achievement. After a breakup, a reunion, and another breakup, the future of Anacrusis seemed unclear, until the announcement by Kenn Nardi was made that after 20+ years he would finally be releasing a new Anacrusis album under his own name. I know that it may seem to be a faux pas as you read further into this review that I interchangeably refer to this as an Anacrusis album and a Kenn Nardi album at the same time, but after reading a shit ton of interviews on the subject, I think we can safely conclude that each moniker is justifiably appropriate. After listening to this album and really sitting with it (and second guessing every sentence I wrote for this review), here is what I have to say about it.

This album is a seamless blend of fascinating explorations into the uncharted, mixed in with love letters to the annals of Anacrusis and old school metal in general. Kenn Nardi performs every instrument on this album (save for a few guest spots) with taste and cautious restraint, careful to never sacrifice the integrity of one instrument for the other. While this album has the longest playing time in Anacrusis’ catalog by far (clocking in at almost three hours in length), it overcomes any preconceived notions of being a lesson in tedium. For it being 2015, we have seen numerous shifts occur within the climate of progressive music since 1993, so much so that being a “relevant” veteran within this scene would seem to be quite the daunting task. However, Dancing With the Past not only catches up with its modern day predecessors, but steps forward to help write the next chapter of progressive music.

Explaining every little thing I love about this album would be quite challenging to do, so bare with me while I try to bring to light its best elements. Overall, what satisfies me most is that Nardi approached it without artistic hesitation, something I noticed immediately during the album opener, “Unnecessary Evil”, which introduces a completely foreign orchestral element into Anacrusis’ system. Unflinching musical prowess by Nardi is stamped all over this album. In the song “Made”, Nardi utilizes a bouncy sludge-breakdown that would make Kirk Windstein blush, while songs like “Await the Setting Sun” and “Spitting Bitter” spew forth primal, inventive thrash. Other tracks like “The Dark and The Light” and “The Runt” explore a foray of morosity that has only been lightly dabbled with in some of Nardi’s side projects. While all these dynamics undoubtedly help to make this album more interesting and digestible, they also clue in fans who bore witness to Anacrusis’ early demise what could have been.

Now, make no mistake, while this album may be progressive, Nardi was incredibly aware that he had to make up for lost time. He manages to do so with another one of my favorite things about the album: the anthems. I mean sure, I may love getting the opportunity to see “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” live, but you know I’ve got to hear “The Number of the Beast” before the night’s over. This being said, “Dead Letters” is undoubtedly one of the best singles in Anacrusis’ career, and I feel it’s also one of the best summations of Anacrusis’ sound as a whole you could get in just one track. There are other standout tracks too. “One World”, “This Killer in My House”, and “Ordinary” will surely satisfy any fan who has been mourning the 20 year drought of Anacrusis’ creative yield (or anybody who just wants to raise a fist and bang a head).

I can’t let the strength of DWTP’s lyrics go unsung. Nardi has always had a strong way with words in the past (ref. me in my car at 18 shouting “WRONG, SO WRONG!” to “Division”), and it seems he had quite a lot to say from the abundance of depth and character we see in DWTP’s lyrics. Songs such as “The Runt”, “The Telling Skies”, “Creve Coeur”, and many others display an intense level of thought throughout, yet are artistically ambiguous enough to allow the listener to attach their own personal meaning to the song. The icing on the cake is the conviction with which Nardi puts into the delivery of his words, adding another layer of perspective and emotion to the song as a whole. One of my favorite lyrics from the album comes in the chorus for the breathtaking epic, “Symbiotic”, which goes:

The water’s deep, the blood is thick/ One fills the soul, one makes us tick/ Adjoined and whole, apart and sick/ For we are all, symbiotic

If that isn’t a “bro, I love you” chorus you sing at a metal show, I don’t know what is.

If I were to give this album any real criticisms, they would be on a few minute points. The most obvious is that it’s very long, which makes it as equally susceptible to monotony as any other band. Most songs average out at six minutes in length, which can sometimes find you wanting them to just get to the damn point (ref. “Untouchable”). The only other significant problem I have with this album is the tracklisting, especially on Disc 2. I feel that numerous songs on DWTP deserve more attention than the first time quick-listener may have the patience to give, and a more properly sorted tracklist could easily rectify this situation. The biggest mistake comes at the album’s end. I was really hoping for this album to end balls out, which could have easily been done with a song such as “Symbiotic”, 2 songs away from the album closer. Instead, Mr. Nardi opted to end with the bleak, depressed-sounding “The Runt”, which on its own is a terrific song, but not the way I would think to end an album that could possibly be your last. (We need more closers like “Hallowed Be Thy Name” or “Eyes of a Stranger”).

Overall, this is an album that is firing on all cylinders. It’s progressive, yet not obsessed with technique; completely signature, yet never abusing old habits; rocking and anthemic, yet mournful, serious; and truly heartfelt. DWTP is a complete album that is a breath of fresh and old air that will leave the die-hard fans elated, and (hopefully) captivate those who are not privy to Anacrusis’ charm. I hope this album will make its way more into the collective consciousness of the metal world, but if it doesn’t, I’m just glad I was afforded the incredible opportunity by Kenn Nardi, Divebomb Records, and my physical health to spend my money on an album that’s so utterly sublime.

 

Best songs for an interested newbie to listen to: “Dead Letters”, “Fragile”, “One World”, “Symbiotic”

Author’s “hidden gem” favorites: “Submerged”, “Beside Myself”, “Unnecessary Evil”, “The Dark and the Light”

 

Purchase this album here, stream at bandcamp or on the player below, and check out both Kenn Nardi and Anacrusis‘ respective facebook pages

(Image VIA)

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  • Pagliacci is Kvlt O)))

    “We need more closers like ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ or ‘Eyes of a Stranger'”

    This makes me feel old and young again at the same time.

  • Edward/Breegrodamus

    Crazytaco back up in this bitch!

  • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

    I love this already.

  • “…when blast beats weren’t a necessity to a metal drummer’s arsenal?”
    BLASPHEMER!

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Blasts are love. Blasts are life.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus

      No blast beats and kvlt shrieking? Not music.

  • Tyreeling In The Years

    If you like, crazytaco_12. Here’s to your fuck. Suave, man. You’re so fuckin’ suave.

    http://media.giphy.com/media/qTag5llUZUR5C/giphy.gif

    • CT-12

      Thanks man!

  • CyberneticOrganism

    The water’s deep, the blood is thick/ One fills the soul, one makes us tick/ Adjoined and whole, apart and sick/ For we are all, symbiotic

    Bros, I love you.

  • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

    I wish we covered more bands like this. These guys are awesome.

    • CT-12

      Fuck yeah dude, glad you dig ’em. This one I definitely felt some priority to write for the Conan’s out there.

  • On the really real though, thanks for bringing this to my attention. I remember really liking Anacrusis’ suffering hour when i first heard it but I didn’t listen to much besides that.

  • I’m listening the Dancing with the Past track, and now I want to listen the disc where it’s located that track. I don’t know if I could listen the entire record, because it’s very very long.

    Thanks for this review, Crazytaco!.

    • CT-12

      It’s on the second disc, if you are any further interested. Thanks man, it’s appreciated!

  • Reposted Avenged Sevenfold Fan

    Iron Maiden was a joke and not even in the same ballpark as a7x. Imho there already a better band than Led Zeppelin.

    -joseph newcomb, 3 months ago

    • CyberneticOrganism
      • Pagliacci is Kvlt O)))

        I’d give it a listen based on the album cover art.

    • any relation to Jake Newcomb?
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ1TPPwwBmQ

    • Maik Beninton

      Ok I’m calling someone to deal with you.

      http://assets.naointendo.com.br/uploads/post-assets/1865/Tira.gif

    • KJM

      I can only hope that Joseph Newcomb spends his days being shoved into lockers and getting wedgies.

      • more beer

        He also needs to be getting Charlie Horses.

        • KJM

          Pink bellies, wet willies, and the dreaded “Rear Admiral”.

          • more beer

            That`s right bring the pain!

          • So is there really like 5 feet pile of snow everywhere in Boston? You live close to there right?

          • KJM

            Yes. I can look out my window and see them everywhere. I hate it. If I didn’t have my life perfectly set up here, I would leave tomorrow.

          • Well it is a 38 F here at the moment and I am loving life! The birds are chirping, snow is melting, what could be better??

          • I saw it was supposed to by 55F next week. I am so excited

          • more beer

            Here too I`m over winter this shit is messing with my money I work outside and it`s been too cold for a week.

          • Snow needs to die. Period.

    • Based Tapir

      Led Zeppelin <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

      • FUCKIN COSIGNED

        <3

        • in triplicate!

          • Maik Beninton

            I don’t know anything about blues during the 60’s but I once read that they copied major artist on their first album.

          • Based Tapir

            They really like stealing blues songs.

          • KJM

            And you really like sucking ass.

          • Based Tapir

            Shhhhh, only dreams.

          • We haven’t had a tussle in awhile, this is riveting!

          • Based Tapir

            I’m a lover, not a fighter.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            More like… BLAOW BLAOW

          • Tyreeling In The Years

            So what, is she a prostitute in this?

          • HA not sure, I am only 1.5 mins through it.

          • What a terrible video. GAWD

          • Lacertilian

            Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            They did it like 200 times.

            Plus the lyrics to “Whole Lotta Love” is a Small Faces song (or humble pie, I always forget which)

          • KJM

            Oh please, they did it once and paid millions of dollars out of court and it was more than likely the labels fault anyway.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            The blues song? ONCE? More like go listen to those album!

            (I disagree about the <<<<< though, with Tapir, I like Zep)

  • Hubert, Goat ov ……Satan

    That’s all well and good, but does it Satan?

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
  • This dude’s voice is so similar to another dude and it’s on the tip of my tongue and it is killing me.

  • Enemy Of The Free World

    I recall you mentioning this before and I checked it then. At least Anacrusis, I liked it and will check this once the opportunity arises.

  • RustyShackleford

    Cool, never heard of these guys before so I’ll be hyped to check it out. Awesome review, can’t help but compare to the review of the new Enslaved on the blog that shall not be named. Our writers >>>>>>>>> their bullshit. Yep.

    • more beer

      That was one of the worst reviews ever. Even by the lack of standards that is usual for that place. That was a new low.

    • CT-12

      Thanks a lot man, seriously makes me feel really good because I spent fucking weeks writing this. There were about 3 different drafts I had wrote up on this album that I had to get rid of and start over again.

  • Enemy Of The Free World

    Slow start for a shitty day or what?
    Or does everyone just hate this guy?

    • It’s been a slow week. I have no idea why.

      • My two theories are that it is tax season and everyone is collectively pissed off at the local/federal government and that the weather is finally above freezing.

        In the end I do not think either of these things reflect on site – but they are two things dominating my thought process at the moment.

        <3

        GL

      • Edward/Breegrodamus

        I’ve said it before but I think in the long run views will be much more important than comments, using my example of the blog that shall not be named as illustrated to me by Coal Roller.

        • Of course. The comments are just a lot of fun for me (and, I would assume, most of you guys).

          • more beer

            It`s because the commentators here are better than on most of the other sites. There is much more musical knowledge here.

          • …and we are master-debaters.

            GL

          • more beer

            True but there is a level of civility here that there isn`t in other places.

          • and most of us know each other outside of the Toilet, IE facebook or actual meet-ups!

          • more beer

            I won`t do the facebook anyone I want to be in touch with I am. Plus I don`t really like putting my business out in public.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            I will one day meet all of you, ONE DAY…

          • When you arrive you will be swooned with democracy so much that you will likely not want to leave! lol

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            I shall bring my little red book with me. It shall keep me sane.

          • more beer

            And we will have a beer!

          • Tyreeling In The Years
          • Based Tapir

            I’m hoping that I’m not on that list.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            ALL OF YOU!

          • Based Tapir

            Fuck no! I’m gonna seek asylum from Russia.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            AND, after yisterday. TIEDÄNSUNKOTIKAUPUNKISITAPIIRI!

          • Based Tapir

            That means nothing! I will hide in my summer cottage that is well hidden!

          • COTTAGE CHEESE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            No way stuff looks weird to me.

          • Based Tapir

            It’s gooooood! My dogs also like it.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            Put it together with sliced Beetroot and we be in heaven.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            It’s surprisingly easy to get such adresses, once you have the initial ones. I should know.

          • Based Tapir

            It’s a really old one (build by my good grandpa a long time ago) in an island. You’ll never find it.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            In an island, you say? See you next week, dear fiend.

          • Based Tapir

            Mulla on vittu mora valmiina. See you soon.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            MUSTALAINEN!!!!!! MANNE!!!!!! SUOMI-VEITTI MAAOTTELU!!!!

          • Based Tapir

            Tiedän ainakin mitä puoluetta sää äänestät tulevssa vaaleissa. Sinivalkoinen rintama tai persut.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            Äänestän Suomen Autoritaarista Ritarikuntaa, kuten aina.

          • Based Tapir

            Btw, PERTTI KURIKAN NIMIPÄIVÄT 4 THE WIN

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            Finland’s second Eurovison victory draws near.

          • Based Tapir

            Only good band in the whole UMK. Fucking Satin Sircus almost won. Then there was that power metal shit.
            We’re coming to let’s go

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            August.

          • I have to get on FB so I can coverse with you guys further.

          • …and master circle-jerkers

          • more beer

            That`s ok as long as you`re not the pivot man.

          • Tyreeling In The Years

            I thought we were elitist assholes.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            Yeah, but since we ALL are nobody minds…

          • more beer

            Elitist is a compliment a kind of term of endearment to this crowd.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            Not me. No way no how.

        • This is a good point. The collection of articles being built by the day is getting to be quite staggering. All the content floating around the interwebs could never be a bad thing!

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            Plus, Joe also explained to me / us (Joe are you still reading this) that most of our views will come from people Google searching topics related to the site and viewing older posts. Many of my own posts have gotten a lot of views over the long run when initially I was like shit, no one is looking at these.

          • CT-12

            Completely true dude. I never even noticed the “views” indicator until I was writing this article up and was able to look at my old articles, some of those had like 600, 700 views! Weird shit dude…

        • there’s another unmentionable site (less unmentionable than the one you’re referencing) that’s been around for years, and they seem lucky to get four comments per article.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            Haha! Which site? I have to know.

            There is a dude that runs a blog that I used to read that talks like he is a big fish in the heavy metal blog game. I’d love to see his metrics. I stopped reading the site because I got the impression he personally was a stick up his ass kvlter than you could ever hope to be kvltist.

          • the site of which i speak is run by a bunch of super nice folks who have a penchant for progressive metal, and it is called Heavy Blog Is Heavy.

          • djent blog is djent.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            Used to read it a lot, rarely any good stuff anymore though, or maybe I just “outgrew” it.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            Those articles only get four views or something per?

            Remember when one of (or more than one) of those dudes flipped the fuck out over Old Man Gloom? Lol. I still haven’t listened to that. Not because of butthurt, but because of *shrugs*

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            I think EVERY blog had (a) dude(s) who flipped because of that.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            Our blog did not, at least not a writer I think a few of “us” may have.

          • I flipped out.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            Really? Lol

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            Our guy was like *shrugs* I liked the fake album, lol

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            I admit I preferred some songs as the shorter versions.

            Plus, I think we just never wrote anything after the initial fake copy, so no one else had a chance to flip either.
            We never run stuff like, IT*S A FAKE OMGD!

          • Based Tapir

            I loved that album(s).

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            I remember. I might eventually listen to them.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            I love the 400+ comments, but they hardly stay to the point…

        • You are probably correct, not everyone comments. Some people are just wall flowers.

      • Enemy Of The Free World

        It’s a bit odd (to my end) consideri g this was the week I’ve begun to share this page for rlz.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus

      Crazytaco >>>>>>>>>

      • also, Walking tacos >>>>>>>>>>>

        • Edward/Breegrodamus

          I’ve had them before and I wholeheartedly agree.

  • listening to the whole thing… this slays
    great review, great recommendation!!!

    • The tracks are tasty for sure!

      • Also, the vocalist has a very unique voice/timbre

        • I am reeeallly reeeeeaalllllllyyyy liking these tunes!

          • CT-12

            Sweet man, glad you like it!

    • CT-12

      Thanks dude!

  • Based Tapir

    This sounds good. Thank you Mr. Taco.

    • Enemy Of The Free World

      You are welcome. Thank you come again.

      -Mr.Bell

      • Based Tapir

        Time to burn the sinner!

        • Winner winner burn the sinner!!

          wait, have you heard the phrase “winner winner chicken dinner”?

          GL

          • Based Tapir

            I’ve seen it written but never heard it live.

          • If you say it out loud – to yourself – than you can cross it off your bucket list! BOOM

    • CT-12

      Thanks man, glad Kenn Nardi gets the Tapir stamp of approval!

  • Enemy Of The Free World

    I dig these v muchachos.

    • Enemy Of The Free World

      Siis vitun kovasti

  • Does crazytaco_12 comment with us? Sorry if I am missing him somehow….

    • Based Tapir

      He does sometimes.

      • I thought so…. Sometimes the names alllll run together. If you click on ToiletOvHell next to the number of comments next to your login you can scroll through all the regular commenters, there are a ton!

        • JVVG

          We are Legion

    • CT-12

      I’m on Pacific Time, and usually by the time I get off work and I’m on here, most of the commenting has been done. There are rare occasiosn like today though that I have the day off of work and comment at sort of a close time with everyone else.

  • Dagon

    This was a great review, you really show how much you’re familiar with this material.

    • CT-12

      Thanks a ton dude!

      • YourLogicIsFlushed

        I am behind on posts by a day and finally got to this. Great stuff taco, this seems to be exactly the kind of music I get obsessed with. Thanks for the introduction!

        • CT-12

          Woohoo!

  • Dagon

    This was a great album, he really showed a lot of songwriting skill in this material.

  • Any of you listened the entire record, besided Crazy Taco?

    • Maik Beninton

      I’m doing it right now.

    • yup, there’s a huge variety of styles in the music. i love it

      • Maik and you, merol detective: didn’t you found it’s TOO much?

        • Maik Beninton

          There is no such thing as too much in art.

        • Enemy Of The Free World

          Listening to now.

        • CT-12

          Yeah, that’s why I enclosed the “Best Songs for an Interested Newbie” and “Hidden Gems” things at the end, because I figured this album would be fairly overwhelming to listen to all at once, especially for a first time listener. The album being on 2 discs also helps break it up a little for me and digest it a little easier.

  • SUNLIGHTBEARD

    This is weird but I kinda like it

  • d00d:

    • CT-12

      Thought you’d dig they’re from Missouri.

  • 3hrs of music mostly written and performed by one guy, that’s a huge undertaking.

  • CT-12

    Thanks everybody for the high words and I’m glad to have turned on any of you to this album (or at least checked it out and decided it’s not for you)! Warms my lil ol’ heart. Also, I’d really recommend checking out Anacrusis’ back catalog to if this didn’t do it for you, it’s great stuff (this was originally gonna be a toss up between a review or a Porcelain Throne). Thanks as well go to the editors, you’re revisions are sincerely appreciated! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbBTOE4g4YQ

  • As for the track listing (song running order), arranging a 2-CD disc of 28 pretty diverse songs was one of the hardest things about doing this album. Is it “side one & side two”? or “album one and album two”? Or “Part one” and “part two”? That was the challenge. Your point is taken about an album ending on a “big” note, HOWEVER, this album was never intended to do so.

    “The Runt” is a very meaningful song to me and sort of a summary of the overall tone of everything I wrote about on the album. It is also a bit indulgent, being recorded more like a simple lullaby (or dirge might be more appropriate). It is not a song that most people will listen to each time they visit the album, making it more of a commentary tagged onto the end. I also know it is the type of musical piece that would bring the album to a screeching halt if placed anywhere else but very last and totally break the flow of the whole thing. Call it my “Outside the Wall”. It is a moment of contemplation after the smoke clears.

    “Sound the Alarm” was the very first song I wrote for Screams and Whispers, and I knew from the very first demo it would be the opening track. I switched so many songs around on DwtP right up until the week before the CDs were made, but one thing I knew from the time both songs were written was that “Unnecessary Evil” would be first and “The Runt” would be last. 😉

    Thanks again for taking the time to dig deeply and for the great review.

    • CT-12

      @joethrashnkill:disqus ^^^ Featured comment!

    • It’s super cool to get some inside info on this record. Thanks for dropping in with us!

  • JvRv

    Holy Flush! Toilet’s music game is on POINT today!
    I was “next”ing through the bandcamp player to find where Symbiotic was…and nowhere was it mentioned this album has like a billion songs. I love it. No Flush!

    Edit: just saw the “this album is very long” sentence. go me.

  • Simon “Djentcrusher” Phoenix

    Great review man. While I’m not the biggest fan of Anacrusis, their talent for songwriting and innovation, especially within thrash, can’t be denied.

    • CT-12

      Thanks man!