As the Blood Runs Down My Face (1993)

While not their best, Blood hints at the potential for greatness of the fledgling ANkST & ANkHS. The title track, As the Blood Runs Down My Face (i reflect upon what we once had) boasts powerful guitar imagery, upbeat keyboards, and the wanton isolation of eustachia's siren's song, but at 28 minutes it eventually becomes repetitive and overdone. The only other stand-out piece on the album, Jackboot Tracheotomy, displays the violent bass cords for which Gunther Oszloo has become semi-famous. Though weak by ANkST standards, this album is still light-years ahead of the insipid drivel found in other so-called "alternative" albums. A must-have for true fans.


Softly (1994)

Many regard this as the definitive ANkST. eustachia is a good as ever. Snake's guitar playing is still powerful, yet no longer threatens to overwhelm eustachia's sensitive lyrics. Snake and Gunther have found each others' natural rythyms, and their guitars meld together into a seamless tapestry of rich, brutal noise. Fatima, no longer frightened of the wrath of an angry god, finally lets loose in a savage frenzy of sledgehammer-like percussion. For the first time, Rebecca's somewhat poppy keyboard melodies blend rather than clash with the overall sound of the band. New to this album is Deke Mulligan, whose lilting Celtic harp provides a haunting, poignant countebalance to the youthful rage of the other members. His solos bring a much needed intermission between the pulse-pounding outbursts that constitute the rest of the album. The only cut lacking is the trite and overworked Dark is the Beast, which is nothing more than a reworking of their first album's Fuckwrench.


Guts in the Alleyway (1995)

ah...Guts in the Alleyway. What can we say that hasn't been said before? Without the tethering presence of bassist Gunther Oszloo, the band lost focus. While each member seemed to find their own personal sound, the overall result is a jarring mishmash of wildly different styles. Temporary replacement bassist Mortimer "Post-Mortem" Post couldn't begin to fill the Asgardian boots of Gunther Oszloo. Though a competent player in his own right, Post never seemed to "get" what ANkST is all about. Most unfortunate from the perspective of most fans is the fact that lead singer eustachia is criminally underrepresented. Snake, Deke, Rebecca and Fatima all make their songwriting debuts on this album. The results range from the interesting to the mind-numbingly appalling. Rebecca's cover of Mickey in particular should be avoided. Buy this one only if you're a hardcore completist or a masochist.

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disc 2 tracks:

I Hate the Mona Lisa (1997)

The return of Gunther Oszloo also marked a return to the sound that established ANkST & ANkHS as the band of the 90s. Throbbing with the soulful cynicism first achieved on Softly, Mona Lisa adds a new level of sophistication and maturity. The band endured many trials and tribulations in '96, and they learned that only through solidarity could they excel. And excel they do in this ear-throbbing, brooding exploration of the human soul. Gone are Snake's angry misogynistic rants and Deke's pathetic rustic cries for help. The ever-peppy Rebecca manages to bring her newfound sense of despair and disillusionment to the album in songs like I wish he hadn't dumped me (now I have to kill him). The ever-brilliant poetgoddess eustachia unveils her most profound lyrics since As the Blood Runs Down My Face (i reflect upon what we once had). Even she seems to have benefitted artistically from the disastrous experimentation of the last album. Fatima, having vented her anger in the previous album, now expands her reportoire to include bitterness, pain, and sorrow. But it is without a doubt Gunther Oszloo who brings the band home with his charismatic, full-bodied bass playing. The bass never sounded so good as it does in Mr. Oszloo's loving and experienced hands.Of particular note is the 12 minute long bass solo that bridges the songs Sucking Chest Wound and Don't Touch Me There. This is the album among albums, folks. If you don't like this one, you're a hopeless goober.