Review – The Anchoret – It All began With Loneliness

The Anchoret is a Progressive Metal project that combines prog rock sensibilities with modern metal energy. Mixing fusion sax, flute solos, mellotron vibes and heavy riffs. ‘It All Began With Loneliness‘ offers a unique soundscape that is sure to please any fan of heavy music.

Featuring Andy Tillison (The Tangent), James Christopher Knoerl (Aviations, Gargoyl) and Sylvain Auclair (Heaven’s Cry, Karcius), ‘It All Began With Loneliness‘ was recorded all over the world between August 2020 and March 2022. 

With all the music composed and produced by bassist Eduard Levitsky and lyrics by Sylvain Auclair, this album is an absolute beast and one of the most stand out and innovative releases of 2023 so far. Fair warning though, it does get very, very loud and, to my ears at least, is all the better for it. Like a force of nature, a neolithic musical tour-de-force, ‘It All Began With Loneliness‘ is an utter powerhouse of progressive-metal invention.

The irresistible force of fine prog-metal melody meets the immovable object that is thunderous guitars, monumental drumming and in your face vocals and, surprisingly, it is a marriage made in heaven. And just to take it to another, almost unimaginable level, we get alto-sax, flutes, clarinet and even gospel vocals!! Jesus, it shouldn’t work in any way, shape or form but it just does and it works remarkably well!

The album bursts into life from the first note of opener An Office For…, this opening track lulls you into a somewhat melodic false sense of security before it segues perfectly into the violent wonder of A Dead Man. This piece of music has everything I mentioned above, melody, power, progressive leanings, majestic vocals, monumental musicianship and flutes! Add in one of Andy Tillison’s more extrovert keyboards solos (and that’s saying something!) and you could say that everything including the kitchen sink has been thrown at it and it is utterly magnificent. Of special note must be the utterly stunning and grandiose guitar work of Leo Estalles, statuesque in delivery and intent. You’ve hardly got your breath back from that uber-enjoyable onslaught before you have to strap in again for the thunderous Until The Sun Illuminates, a prog-metal masterpiece of magical musical malevolence. An almighty wall of sound rushes at you with deliberate intent, the occasional lull only giving brief respite from the mayhem around you. This is musical violence that is utterly wonderful, Andy’s keyboards used to great effect to give you temporary shelter from the storm created by the energetic rhythm section. Someone Listening carries on with a maniacal gleam in its metaphorical eye, the musical rollercoaster ride sweeping you up and carrying you in its wake. Sylvain Auclair has a commanding voice perfectly suited to the high energy, pulsating music, it is passionate and forceful but always melodic. The brilliant alto-sax of Juan Ignacio Varela Espinoza provides a clever counterpoint on the opening to Forsaken before the prog-metal takes on a much darker and heavier note and the vocals go all thrash metal on you. I’m not normally a fan but it’s done so well that I have to admit that I love it! The ebb and flow between the elegant sax and the maelstrom of metal is perfectly executed and makes for one hell of an exhilarating listening experience and Leo’s fine guitar playing is always going to add something vital to the mix.

The enigmatic opening to Buried adds an almost middle-eastern feel to the music before the staccato guitar and forceful vocals give primeval force to the song. There’s a building of tension, a clever anticipation being created before bursts of audio stimulus push through, a shorter but exceedingly sharp piece of music. All Turns To Clay is an anarchic helter-skelter of a song, a pulsating and compelling song that mesmerises and fascinates at the same time. The potent guitar riff has you trapped in its spell and the dark, haunting vocals seem to focus directly on you, another fine piece of songwriting. Unafraid has a less manic tempo yet builds menacingly with intimidating, ominous certainty, like a storm gathering in the distance, one you know is going to hit you eventually. Barely restrained like a wild stallion, there’s a violent energy building that strains to be let loose. This incredibly powerful album closes with the most wistful of songs in Stay. Emotive, passionate and heartrending, the musicianship is superb, where before it was all controlled power and dynamism, now it’s about precision, calm and grace, there’s even a Mellotron for god’s sake! It doesn’t get more prog than a Mellotron! Leo shows his class with a heartbreakingly elegant solo, full of fire and passion which, along with another magnificent keyboard solo from Andy, closes the album in rather fine style.

One of the things I love about music is when it surprises you and this debut release from The Anchoret has been a revelation. ‘It All Began With Loneliness’ is an astonishingly good album, in fact jaw-droppingly so, and is already up there as one of my favourites of the year. As prog-metal albums go, it doesn’t get much better than this!

Released 23rd June, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:

It All Began With Loneliness | The Anchoret (

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