Written by: Izzy
Ah, Anaal Nathrakh. You’re one of the oddest relationships I have with a band. You’re capable of making incredible music, but it only seems to happen by pure coincidence. I loved Codex Umbra and The Whole of The Law, I was bored by Vanitas and A New Kind of Horror, and the album of yours I most expected to love, In The Constellation of The Black Widow, was made utterly unlistenable but a mix so unrefined and muddy it gave me a migraine on my first listen.
There’s so much potential present within Anaal Nathrakh, but there’s no rhyme or reason for telling when they’ll make another album I love. When it’s straightforward and sticking to their palette of blackened grind, it might end up feeling like bland retreading of the same ground; when it’s more adventurous and innovative, adding elements of industrial or symphonic sung choruses, it can just as easily feel like they’re trying too hard. So all I can do is wait and listen to their new releases every couple years, hoping I get another unexpected gem.
So here we are again, old friend. Endarkenment: what can I even say about this album? Well, a lot of things really. I can say what I really feel, which would be that it’s another completely unremarkable and average album by a band I’m only talking about because I have a complex and storied past with them. I could say it’s possibly even one of their blandest efforts yet and wonder what went wrong from The Whole of The Law, when that album is only four years old and yet the following two albums feature none of what made me love it. But maybe that would be giving the game away too quickly.
You see, I’m gonna place my bets that Endarkenment was a direct result of the two albums preceding it. The Whole of The Law was one of Anaal Nathrakh’s weirder foray’s and was pretty successful, generally speaking probably their best received since Black Widow, and the band probably thought “Hey, this was pretty weird, let’s go wild and do something even crazier! It’ll be fun and people will love it.” That album was A New Kind of Horror, and it was not fun, and people did not like it, it was basically the lowest point of their career, and what do bands do when they hit a career lowpoint?
They go back to the drawing board, start over from the beginning, get rid of all the flashy experimental stuff, strip down to the essentials and try again. That’s what Endarkenment is: it’s Anaal Nathrakh stripped bare, lacking any personality or colour or excitement. It’s just Anaal Nathrakh, nothing else. Nothing good or interesting. All that’s left is a skeleton of the band, and a skeleton needs something else to make it move: muscles, tendons, ligaments, sinew, or maybe machinery, or magic even, but there’s nothing, an empty, unmoving skeleton shoved into a featureless casket slowly sinking deeper that’s only missing a couple nails to finish the job.
And I’m not sure if their next release will be what brings them back into life, or ends up being a nail that makes it harder for them to crawl out of this, but while A New Kind of Horror wasn’t great, this is soulless, and brought them even lower than they already were for me. My love-hate relationship with this band is quickly devolving into ambivalence and boredom, maybe I’ll listen to the next Anaal Nathrakh album, but if it’s anything like this one, I won’t be listening to the one after it.
Anaal Nathrakh - Endarkenment was released Oct. 2nd, 2020 from Metal Blade Records
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!