Analena - Carbon Based (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Carbon Based (2005)


It's very, very rare that a woman is able to make her way out of the kitchen and into the recording studio, microphone in hand, and actually impress me. (Come on feminists, let me have it.) However, rules have their exceptions, so go ahead and mark Croatian export Analena into that exception category. The dichotomy of this band is truly interesting, combining a fiery punk rock spirit, and an impassioned screamo sensibility (think Funeral Diner); their take on music is quite the trip.

Discordance, urgency, and intricacy are three words that best describe this group's dynamic. It's tough to pin down just who their influences are, and how exactly they're applied to the hectic and abstract nature of the music. Defying convention can often make for more of a challenging than enjoyable listen, but the rewards of listening to Carbon Based are certainly there. Listen closely to the subtle inclusions that make this disc so special. Lots of driving, low-end bass, extremely well done male/female intertwining vocals, and an entirely volatile nature that makes each song just as, if not more, interesting than the one that proceeded it.

Equal parts harsh and melodic, "Ropewalk Adventures" presents the loud/soft dynamic as well as any other point on the album. Analena's vocalist, known only as ‘Ana,' intelligently crafts her lyrics around the see-saw song structures that are both calming and chaotic. She's got an excellent singing voice, but the real passion comes out in the screams. There's no overabundance of either style on the album, yet both are able to really hit their stride at various points throughout the half-hour duration. To accompany Ana, there's a backing male vocalist that trades off or shares in with some of the screaming duties. The duo sounds fantastic, especially amidst the raging guitars before quietly leading out. Ana's screams really take flight with "Work In Progress," which leads in with a great, driving rhythm and subtle, sung vocal parts, before breaking way for the screaming to come in full force. The lyrics are clever, and many times political, though without the hint of the band trying to push an agenda.

Focus the camera on yourself / Zoom in, zoom out, blame the moon / The universe is not dressed to your taste / 400 years later you would still burn Galileo and the stars? / Laughing, whispering, grain of salt where are you? / In the ocean, in the jellyfish / In the tears behind your face / Zoom out, zoom in, voices in your head erode your face / Your fears, your ego, your truth, evaporating / Tear is a grain of salt.
Solid lyrics aside, it's rhythm and intensity that really drive this release. There's plenty of low key, melodic vocals, but the discordant guitars are always primed and ready for a sudden blast of passionate screaming, and there's plenty of that on this album. The production extracts all of the talent and potential out of each individual musician, and it's that collaborative effort that give these songs an extra push. Sure, the vocals may sound superb, but if the music backing it up just doesn't fit, it's not going to have the same level of impact, but the opposite reigns true here. Each member contributes to the overall sound, and the structure and impact of the songs is better for it. "Rainy Night In Warsaw" takes the album out with its acoustic instrumentation and lack of vocals.

What starts out in a frenzy ends in a whimper, but from start to finish this album is an excellent effort. I know you kids love your comparisons, so it might help to tell you that Analena's sound is closest to that of now defunct On The Might Of Princes. Carbon Based proves that a female vocalist can be just as impactful as a male counterpart, leaving only one thing to question: Where the hell is my dinner?