As we simultaneously drift farther from our roots and further towards our future, the zeitgeist of mid-pandemic humanity is a multifaceted thing of infinite complexity, at best; to whatever extent our species might be capable of sharing a collective experience or mindset, there is simply too much to disagree on at any one time, too much division amongst us all for life itself to ever be considered a team sport. Neocrusty ol’ Ancst are well aware of this divided state of dysphoria, and they are supremely uninterested in straddling fences; on their fourth full-length outing, Summits of Despondency, the German veterans’ message is loud, clear, and unapologetically partisan: ‘Nazi punks, fuck off and die.’
The lyrical expanse of the Ancst discography has long been an opinionated assault on fascism at large, and Summits once again finds the band locked in all-out warfare against the myriad forces of oppression which continue to shape and redefine our collective past, present and future. The subservient and the dominant alike are taken to task here, power level irrelevant: “You are traitors to me and to human ideals. Frontline rats – disposable.” (‘Kill Your Inner Cop’) or “We are the vermin that pester the lands. We are the true bringers of chaos. Risen to shine, constructed to consume – we’re dull and lifeless.” (‘Razed Eden’). Ancst don’t care if you’re downright down with oppression or else are simply standing aside, safely out of its way: if you’re not against it, they’re against you.
While Summits confronts a multitude of interrelated topics throughout its twelve tracks, it wages its war with a scant three weapons: rage, Rage, and FUCKING RAGE. Ancst are mad at the world, an answer given to the listener heedless of their not having asked and understood through tone long before the words themselves are processed or, at times, so much as uttered. To hear the sustained blackened crust explosion of ‘Abysm of Existence’ is to hear the sound of wrath, regardless of tongue. The pipe bomb comprising punk, hardcore and furious groove and masquerading as a track titled ‘Denazification’ likewise needs no words to convey its disgust – though it does use several, and they do help. If this all sounds like a bit much to endure for 45 minutes, fear not; deft application of sporadic, sonic repose a là the ambient intro of Razed Eden’ or the serene ‘The Burden of Hope Part I’ foster an organic, intuitive flow, allowing listeners to occasionally breathe between the beatings – and thoroughly improving said beating, in the process.
Confirmed fans of the band have likely been surprised by nothing covered in this review thus far; Ancst have been doing their Ancsty thing for over a decade, after all, and Summits is very much a culmination of Ancstuous lessons. These are the serrated barks we know, the frenetic tremolos we trust, and the blastbeats we applaud. This is not to say that the Germans have gotten stagnant. Rather, Summits is the sound of a band that has successfully forged its own sound and is now beginning to truly master the musical weapons they wield. Those hoping for an Ancstastic reinvented wheel need not cease their intercession just yet; those hoping for more of the same can expect the same, and more. Summits of Despondency is the Ancstiest act of Ancstening yet, the logical fruition of over a decade’s worth of Ancstdom and (hopefully) a promising testament to the band’s Ancstular trajectory.
Summits of Despondency is out via LifeForce Records and can be ordered here.
Words: Drew Parent