Since the early 2000s, The Anix had been steadily working its way through the underground music scene, blending post-grunge alt. rock with a heavy dose of electronic atmosphere for a singular sound that skirted just on the edge of mainstream appeal. But after the 2017 release of Ephemeral on the Cleopatra label, which saw The Anix’s sound veering more toward the electronic end of things, founder and front man Brandon Smith transitioned into a solo artist and signed to FiXT. While his sixth album under the moniker, Shadow_Movement is very much a new beginning as it presents many shifts in the sound and method of The Anix; Smith’s breathy and emotive voice remains, as do the resonant guitars, but with the heavier emphasis on the electronics has come a denser, more cinematic scope. Presented as something of a cyberpunk concept album revolving around a rogue agent known as the Interchanger, Shadow_Movement shows Smith honing his songwriting with even tighter programming and finely crafted layers of arpeggiated synths that seem to bombard the listener with enough audio data to barely overload their synapses. This is evidenced by such singles like the anthemic “Fight the Future,” the pensive and somber “Black Space,” and the rhythmically charged “Incomplete,” along with the ambient techno stylings of “Pendulum” and “Ghost,” and the robotic grit of “Interchanger.” All throughout, the strident bass and harmonic guitar lines topped off by lush choruses, like those on “Come Back Down” and “Open Fire,” all serve as reminders that Smith’s songwriting remains at the forefront of the ever expanding sound of The Anix; where songs on past albums were often written with soundtracks in mind, and even licensed out to various film, TV, and video games, Shadow_Movement finds Smith creating a soundtrack to his own futuristic world. However, the album does tend to drag after the first half as each song follows a similar structure, each building to a melodic crescendo that is satisfying within its own space, but not quite coalescing into the whole. As such, the world of Shadow_Movement is immense in its dimensions, but starts to lose its sense of depth by the end. Still, it’s a fine new beginning for The Anix as Brandon Smith puts his skills as a producer and musician to their utmost. One can surmise that things are only going to become more interesting for this artist moving forward.