While a charming but short-lived listen, Ànteros‘ latest effort is one that pales in comparison to anything that they’ve done before.

Release date: November 2, 2023 | Aloud Music | Facebook | Bandcamp

You know the feeling in which you just can’t decide what to listen to? Happens to me way to often and bouncing back and forth between doomscrolling albums on my phone’s local music player or painfully sifting through recommendations on the atrocious Spotify UI, I’ll usually end up resorting to picking something purely based on album artwork if it catches my eye. There is something to be said about stellar visual artwork as it can speak volumes about the music it accompanies. During one aimless search for something new to listen to, I stumbled upon Ànteros… y en paz la oscuridad and my thumb was already homing in on that play button based on the artwork alone.

My happenstance discovery of this band was one filled with nothing but delight as I found myself enamored not only with the album artwork but the music itself. This Spanish band had a special charm about them in their gorgeously optimistic brand of skramz/post-hardcore that I couldn’t pry myself from. While this particular record has been out for a few years, it is one I still regularly came back to as it really is that good. You can probably guess how ecstatic I was when their newest EP, Montenegro, released last month as it shows Ànteros continuing their track record of marvelous art pieces whereas the music itself shows a slight deviation in plan.

Musically, Montenegro showcases their penchant for composing these deceivingly bleak screamo tunes that radiates so much optimism and passion. Compared to previous works, Montenegro has a grungier aesthetic as made clear in the opening track, the sinister, groovy outro riff to “Frágiles”, and in the main riff to “Elurra Heroitza”. The tracks here don’t waste any time and most of that musical exposition on past releases that kept me latched onto this band is mostly omitted. While the overall objective of Montenegro may differ from that of the preceding records, it still packs a lot of bite with a handsome amount of melodicism.

While I am aware that this is an EP and not a full-length, the difference in tracklist doesn’t differ too much from previous works. With that being said, the songs present on Montenegro while pleasant, leave some to be desired from a compositional perspective. As an introductory track, “Culto al fuego” doesn’t contribute much at all to the record and the acoustic “Varese” is an unnecessary interlude, albeit a gorgeous one. I certainly enjoy what I am hearing musically, but the songs themselves are just so short that the ideas captured in them don’t stick as they would if they were fleshed out a bit more, causing the EP to feel even more transient than it already is as a consequence. This becomes glaringly obvious with each successive listen.

On previous records, we had songs like “Solo Mar, Solo Tierra”, “Sombra”, “Ultravioleta”, and “Polaris” for example, that I especially fell in love with due to how Ànteros effortlessly weaves this complex sonic tapestry in the amount of musical exposition they provide. These expansive tracks in particular blew me away with how they cover so much melodic ground that they each felt like mini-albums. On Montenegro, we only get inklings of those dynamic writing style in the outro of “Cielo Abierto” and “Elurra Heriotza” for example. While I liked most of the songs here, it was only in the closing track where I lost all sense of time and fully succumbed to the blissful soundscapes that swirled around me. That feeling is precisely what I came for and at least I got it through “Elurra Heriotza”, even if it was only for a single song.

Overall, Montenegro is Ànteros’ weakest work as previous efforts clearly indicated that the band is capable of so much more. Despite being an EP, just when Montenegro feels like it’s gaining momentum, it comes to an end much sooner than I would’ve preferred. There are indeed special moments to be had, but they’ll pass you by in the blink of an eye, leaving the listener musically starved. On the brighter side of things, this unsatiated hunger only leads me to consuming all of Ànteros previous records so at least I get my fill that way. There may be little meat on the bone here, but at least it is cooked well enough that you could easily consume more.

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