Immerse yourself in this concept album about a Sanctum, an ethereal place where lost souls find shelter, bringing an amalgamation of sounds and nuances that will at the same time soothe your soul and stimulate your senses.
Anuar Salum, the mastermind behind Mexican Atmospheric Post-Metal Phendrana, is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist based in Mexico City who at the age of 12 started the project under the name Pakistuf, in memory of his grandfather Emilio Kuri Rame, recording a couple of albums and sharing the stage with bands like Alcest, Gehenna and Nader Sadek. Of Syrian and Lebanese descent, Anuar then took the project into a whole new direction in 2016 by changing the project’s main focus and concept, incorporating atmospheric and progressive elements to his music, and eventually changing its name to Phendrana. Now in 2018 it’s time for Anuar and his Phendrana to unleash upon humanity their first full-length opus, titled Sanctum: Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.
Recorded between October 2016 and November 2017, Sanctum: Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (with “sic transit gloria mundi” being a Latin phrase that means “thus passes the glory of the world”) is a concept album about a Sanctum, an ethereal place where lost souls find shelter. The album is divided in seven parts, those being a description of the Sanctum, three transitions from different souls to it, two stories about the past lives of Sanctum inhabitants, and an ode to the night. Featuring an elegant artwork by Mexican artist Caro Fer, based on the painting “Vanitas Symbols in a Landscape” by Dutch painter Matthias Withoos (1627–1703), this whimsical and unique album of contemporary heavy music will beautifully transport you to the Sanctum proposed by Anuar, bringing an amalgamation of sounds and nuances that will at the same time soothe your soul and stimulate your senses in a striking way.
A crescendo of dark sounds invades our ears until Anuar arrives with his harsh gnarls in a feast of contemporary extreme music titled Sanctum, a perfect depiction of modern-day Post-Metal featuring beautiful keyboards thoroughly blended with the song’s riffs and bass lines, with the second half of the song being a progressive and atmospheric sonic voyage. In addition, Anuar definitely knows how to add a touch of poetry to his lyrics (“An ivory gate, with marble wardens / A citadel, enshrined in an ocean of clouds / Hallways born in the heart of the forest / A legacy, a destiny, written in blood.”). Then we face sheer melancholy flowing from Anuar’s smooth guitar lines in The Threshold, a gentle bridge to the full-bodied aria Ethereum, with the song’s lyrics also bringing a sense of introspection to our souls (“Once an arcane blue aurora / Once ethereal, a fragrant memory / Once a sanctum for the shadows / Once a threshold to their twilight.”). Italian guest Vera Clinco (from Caelestis) provides her share of delicacy to the music with her gorgeous voice, with trenchant blast beats permeating the air in total sync with the song’s whimsical keys and atmospheric passages, again showcasing rage and desolation flowing from Anuar’s growls.
The Dream is another gentle bridge provided by Phendrana, ideal for closing our eyes and preparing our spirits for Where Ages Meet, where acoustic guitars ignite a precise extravaganza of modern metal music blended with ambient and rock music. Vera Clinco joins Anuar once again to beautify the overall musicality while the band’s mastermind continues his dark musical path through his raging roars and sharp guitar lines. Furthermore, several distinct elements from the most diverse range of styles are added to the background, increasing the song’s taste considerably. The Bog offers the listener one last breath of instrumental sounds and tones, this time infused with the mesmerizing sound of water, before the multi-layered Gjenganger presents Mexican musician Aracoelium as a guest vocalist, hypnotizing us all with her choir-like vocals, as well as what’s perhaps the heaviest sounding of all tracks with rawer-than-usual riffs and Black Metal-inspired frantic beats. And to make things even more exciting, an otherworldly break brings some peace to our hearts for a while, until Anuar returns in full force with his final stint of harmonious and thrilling devastation.
The music shelter to your lost soul crafted by Anuar and his Phendrana can be fully appreciated on YouTube and on Spotify, and you can always support such skillful artist by following him on Facebook and by buying a copy of Sanctum: Sic Transit Gloria Mundi through his BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. I confess I wasn’t familiar with the work by Anuar when the project was named Pakistuf, but I’m sure what he’s doing now with Phendrana represents an inspiring and healthy evolution for him as an artist and as a human being, and let’s hope he can continue to put us in a metallic trance with his atmospheric and modern heavy music for decades to come.
Best moments of the album: Sanctum and Where Ages Meet.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2018 Sickness Records
1. Sanctum 9:04
2. The Threshold (Instrumental) 1:55
3. Ethereum 9:15
4. The Dream (Instrumental) 1:51
5. Where Ages Meet 7:48
6. The Bog (Instrumental) 2:10
7. Gjenganger 6:58
Anuar Salum – vocals, all instruments
Vera Clinco – female vocals on “Ethereum” and “Where Ages Meet”
Aracoelium – female vocals (choir) on “Gjenganger”