- Review by Faye Coulman
REVIEWED: Anaal Nathrakh - 'Endarkenment'
With its darkly brutalising wealth of scalding, violently accelerating and densely bludgeoning musical dynamics, the notorious subterranean underbelly that is extreme metal is one rich with various instruments of sonic torture, their every sculpted, scalpel-keen accent perfectly calculated to trigger our most aggressively primitive, reptilian impulses. But what of those artists who, beyond simply quickening the pulse and setting the synapses alight, possess the capacity to evoke in us so much more besides? To push and propel the unsuspecting listener to darkly euphoric heights of delirium only to hurl us headlong into a place so wretched and devoid of light as to palpably reek of despair. Such was the savage and ghoulishly haunting majesty of 2018 masterwork ‘A New Kind of Horror.’ Now, with the wetly putrescent stench of the trenches still clinging to our bloated and battle-scarred bodies a full two years later, our ever-beloved Brummie aggressors are primed and ready to visit upon us a fresh raft of apocalyptic nightmares.
Barrelling out of the gate at a pace that sees humongous, bass-heavy blasts and icy barbs of tremolo lacerate the senses like white-hot fragments of airborne shrapnel, electrifying title track ‘Endarkenment’ makes for a brutally stupefying statement of intent. Propelled to insane levels of synapse-scorching acceleration beneath an unrelenting deluge of caustic screams that violently bristle with ink-black malevolence, this is anything but easy or even remotely digestible listening. In fact, it’s not until perhaps the second or third listen that we can even to begin to properly navigate the many delirious twists and darkly grandiose turns that comprise this mind-altering labyrinth of a long-player. Indeed, with its densely disorientating fog of violently throbbing industrial trappings, tortured goblin shrieks and weightily pulverising blasts, this is a rabid and uncontrollable entity that takes audible pleasure in testing the listener’s endurance. This, the unmistakable sound of sanity slowly unravelling like gorily unspooling innards spilling forth upon the slaughterhouse floor, the air thick with the scent of spoiled blood and howling, animal anguish.
Yet, for all the unspeakable horror that emanates thick and pungent from the mix like pestilence made flesh, there’s a terrible but undeniably entrancing beauty that abides here. Take, for instance, the rousing operatic leads and grandly expansive lines of Scandi-flavoured fretwork that erupt out of the relentlessly bludgeoning throes of ‘The Age of Starlight’, its icily melancholic layers of tremolo carving great yawning chasms of anguish abyss-deep into the mix. Or how sultry veils of swirling ambient noise usher us into the thickly muscled throes of ‘Libidinous (A Pig With Cocks In Its Eyes)’ - a track that, from every inch of its crippling, meticulously placed rhythmic grooves to the flesh-corroding venom that underlines Hunt’s every angrily spitting, bile-soaked syllable, audibly bristles with contempt for the mindless idiocy that drives a civilisation slowly but surely sleepwalking its way into self-inflicted oblivion.
And when your no doubt utterly frayed and aggression-ravaged nerves have had sufficient time to recover from this brutally invasive assault on the senses, be sure to take a quiet moment or two to delve into the album's accompanying liner notes. Here, you'll note equal vision and ingenuity in the crafting of Hunt and co.'s lyrical dynamics too. Indeed, who else but the legendary Anaal Nathrakh could pull off such choice lyrical yarns as “A 1,000 cocks begin to crow” and “If they're Mr Creosote, we’re not even a wafer-thin mint”? Tempering these generous measures of grimly observed gallows humour with all the incandescent rage and anguish that’s come to define our present state of being, ‘Endarkenment’ not only richly embodies the deathly essence of this bleak new era but seizes it by the jugular and, with gaily delirious abandon, makes it dance to the death knell-beat of its very own brutally arresting requiem.
'Endarkenment' is out now via Metal Blade