We had left Ankhagram back in 2010 grappling with Where Are You Now, a very good work imbued with atmospheric death doom, which portended interesting developments for the future. Despite the still young age of Dead, this is the nickname of the Russian musician who is the sole custodian of the project, Thoughts is the fifth full length released in six years: an already important interval of time during which the sound has progressively evolved, gaining in personality and maturity compared to the first albums characterized by appreciable creative spurts alternating with evident naiveté. Ankhagram in 2012 signifies funeral doom with a pronounced ambient component, a sonic mix that averts segregation in the noisy caverns of drone in favor of a melodic nature that is only rarely mottled by Dead’s growl. The opener Gates In Mind, despite being by far the shortest track of the lot, is already indicative of the album’s stylistic direction, with the delicate piano turn accompanying us from beginning to end without being, despite this, verbose or cloying. Much more challenging turns out to be the listening of Don’t Feel This Life, which takes us back into funeral territories, along the lines of Ea and Comatose Vigil, just to stay within the former Soviet empire; the eighteen-minute development of the track is pervaded, rather than by the despair or gloomy nihilism of other releases in the same sphere, by a suffused sense of melancholy that proves to be a constant feature of Thoughts. Lost In Reality is another fine ambient episode in which the constant background represented by the clanking of a train can only metaphorically represent the passage of time, while I’m A Fake and Without Us reintroduce the atmospheric funeral that, as we have seen, is in Dead’s chords. The title track worthily closes the album after nearly seventy-five minutes of excellent music bringing the ambient face of the Russian one-man band back to the fore. Precisely because the ambient component is accompanied by a definite melodic trait, listening to the album proves to be anything but tiring, obviously relating it to the genre proposed; personally, I do not feel like making any criticism of the Yekaterinburg musician; on the contrary, I believe that Thoughts represents his achievement of definitive artistic maturity. It only remains to be seen in which direction Dead will eventually want to push his project in the years to come, for now all that remains is to listen with pleasure to this excellent work.

2012 – Endless Winter