Anchoress - Set Sail
Record Label: Defiled Under Music
Release Date: May 14, 2013
The only video on Vancouver four-piece Anchoress’ YouTube before the recent release of the video for “She-Devil” was a note-for-note cover of Andrew W.K.’s “Party Hard,” which sums up the band’s 2013 LP Set Sail quite well - a comparison that sounds much more complimentary than it’s meant to be.
“Originality” is an overrated concept in music, but Anchoress is especially lacking. While executed well enough - the guitar is constantly riffing, swinging wildly about, and Rob Hoover fills the role of the grinning, yelling, yowling vocalist quite well - the music sounds like that of any number of mosh-friendly hardcore punk bands. The songs on Set Sail have about the same level of depth as a song titled “Party Hard,” except no one here is as party zen as the legendary Andrew W.K.
Anchoress take the same cues from predecessors that a legion of other similar bands do, churning out some version of single-minded, lyrically skin-deep party hardcore - raunchy, dirty, fun music made for wiling out. It kills live, I’m sure.
It takes some wit, technical proficiency, and songwriting chops to pull this off - something like the personality, the dirty riffs, and clever quips of an Every Time I Die. There aren't many quips here.
There‘s this: “With a knife in my teeth and your heart in my hands.” Repeat several times.
See also: “Get busy living or get busy dying/That’s goddamn right.”
And this charming statement: “You can only fuck so many strangers!”
At least Hoover spits the words out with conviction, swagger, and personality, which is worth something. Set Sail also has ripping, tearing riffs and pummeling rhythm section necessary in lieu of impressive writing or complex arrangements. The riffs are rough, raw, and constantly revved - nothing life-changing, but functional. The sole purpose is to rage, and Set Sail is intermittently successful at that.
Anchoress' “Influences” section on Facebook contains the following quote:
"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it!"
That quote is Anchoress. They’re a couple of regular guys, hardcore dudes with a bunch of facial hair between them having a good time. The songs have two tempos: fast and slightly faster. They want to soundtrack your raging. The moshing comes easy, the lyrics easy to pick up and shout back. There’s a niche for this music - they fill it ably, if you can’t find any Every Time I Die. Set Sail is hardcore retail, all interchangeable parts and easily replicable functions. At least these four guys offer a genuine grin with what they’re selling. “Get busy living,” I guess.