Ahna Crimson Dawn LP

I remember catching this band in 2016 in Croatia or, to be more accurate, I remember having a great time and being quite impressed by them, but actual details are largely lost—I think they played toward the end of the No Sanctuary fest, which was pretty much an obligatory summer migration for crusties in Europe. This album is the nastiest, meanest record I have heard this month. AHNA comes from Vancouver, has been going since 2008, and is the best example of a band successfully blending stenchcore and old-school death metal. They keep the best of both worlds in a seamless fashion. While the majority of bands conducting such a perilous experiment generally fail because they merely make either an angrier dis-oriented version of death metal or a more technical version of stenchcore music with too clean a production, AHNA’s sound is an actual brew which can appeal to both punks and metalheads. If it does sound like a herd of disgruntled, possessed hippos ravaging your hometown, the tastefulness and the mastery are obvious if you are a fan of crust. This is basically how a dark and desperate cocktail blending death metal and crust should be prepared. If BOLT THROWER, SACRILEGE, DISMEMBER, and AUTOPSY engaged in a brawl at the release party of a split between CRUZ and LIMB FROM LIMB, it would be pretty close to this. Crimson Dawn has a thick, dark, and macabre vibe, but still sounds like it could angrily bite you in half like your studded punk friend can tear through a vegan kebab at 2AM after downing eight pints of lager. I especially love the raging work of the two vocalists on this, and singer/drummer(!) Anju does a magnificent impersonation of Tam from SACRILEGE. The best I have heard, in fact. This album was originally released on CD and cassette in 2020, but the always reliable Phobia Records had the good idea to do a vinyl version.