Writing up about the newest record of a band that has influenced you a lot in the very end of your teenage years can be a tricky thing. Anchor is a Vegan Straight Edge band that I’ve been following up since its inception in 2007. I was already vegan and interested in the contemporary political VSXE like Gather, and pretty much anything coming up on xCatalystx Records, though I wasn’t nearly close to calling myself straight edge yet. I’ve already knew Mattias, Anchor’s drummer at that time, who was playing in a number of other bands. They were all good and interesting but Anchor’s “Captivity Songs” debut was definitely what I was looking for back then, a Swedish hardcore band with political message and a boost of Refused and Abhinanda influences in their passionate 4 songs demo.
Anchor’s first full-length “The Quiet Dance” was good enough to establish the band at the forefront of European hardcore and as one of the most intensively touring bands on the old continent. I’ve seen them live several times during that period but the second LP “Recovery” and the incredible tour with Trial and Run With The Hunted was definitely the highlight of my intimate relation with Anchor. With Mattias changing from drums to guitar, Claes perfecting his vocal skills and the whole band adjusting their optimal line-up, Anchor was ready to tour Asia and other unknown grounds.
“Distance & Devotion” is Anchor’s third and most ambitious full-length. The album came out in April 2015 but was recorded back in 2013. Their dedication in polishing their sound is definitely worth the effort. The record doesn’t sound overproduced but the band has moved from the 90’s hardcore and metal influences to much more melodic and off-kilter sound. Although the record starts with the message of “ I will never stray from my path” in the opening track “Upstream”, featuring Aram Arslanian (Champion, Betrayed, The First Step, React! Records).
The whole record sounds incredibly nuanced between the distinct Anchor’s sound that we used to like and the more melodic approach. Both singles “Survive” and “Losing Faith” have been made into official video clips, so I guess the band will get even wider recognition far beyond the typical DIY hardcore punk/VSXE crowd. The lyricism is still top-notch in this one and the whole record stands out both in terms of music and message, although I still need some more urgency and aggression. I’m not disappointed in any way from the direction that Anchor have taken with “Distance & Devotion” but I was expecting something more in the lines of RWTH’s “The Sieve And The Sand”, which is so far this genre’s utmost perfection to me.