Anhedonist: Netherwards

This is a week which has treated Death/doom metal fans to a depth and richness of quality that has been absent within the genre over recent times. There have been two albums unleashing their dark expansive compulsive consumptions to excite and inspire far beyond any other releases from like minded bands that have fed upon our shadows. Firstly there is the stunning debut from Australians Inverloch in the shape of Dusk I Subside, a release that marks a new deep vein of power and ingenuity for the genre and now we have the excellent Netherwards from US band Anhedonist which equally sets down a distinct and remarkable marker within the genre.

Released via Dark Descent Records, Netherwards is a ravenous lumbering and contagious pit borne nightmare that feasts with a thick expanse upon every shadow and darkened thought inspired from its recipients. Four tracks prowling over forty minutes leave the listener gasping for air and grasping for light as weighty thunderous riffs and venomous spite coated melodies extinguish every spark of hope and joy. It is a haunting release that leaves depression soaked paws on each of the senses, a lingering unavoidable mesmeric dark entity that coaxes forth things that one had consigned to the shut off corners of the mind.

The opening Saturnine emerges through an ambience of cold stark atmosphere and emotion, its slowly dawning breath ominous, intimidating and reeking of a dark presence. It is wonderful and the perfect lead in to the flesh whipping groove that follows, the guitars predatory and taunting whilst guttural aural bile disguised as words pierce and consume the heart. Where there was at times a kind of warmth to the Inverloch release, Anhedonist only leave cold ice behind their down tuned crawl through emotions and senses. Flexing into a heavier and pacier might at times the track tunnels deeper whilst the intensity shifts into new heavier and crushing positions. The irresistible unrelenting essence the quartet devours with from the first chord of the EP to the last departing note of the final violation, is sheer malignant poetry.

Estrangement is an even more haunting piece of soundscape, its subterranean cavernous expanse ringing with schizophrenic echoes and malignant disorder to which one is sucked in deeper and deeper note by note. Beneath this mass of tumultuous turmoil on the song, and throughout the release, there is a distinct variety and creative diversity in sound, atmosphere and intent which is openly laid out to feast upon as they themselves absorb and ravish the senses slowly and deliberately. It is masterful and an experience that needs to be given time, attention, and full submission.

The remaining tracks Carne Liberatus and Inherent Opprobrium continue the intense experience and overwhelming oppression. The first is an even more aggressively virulent contagion, its muscles, riffs, and groove rippling with violent intent and evil craft whilst the closing fifteen epic of Inherent Opprobrium strips the listener to their rawest state before lifting them up with caustic manipulations and acidic melodies. It is the perfect ending to the release and experience, the beast leaving its listener a deeply contented and wasted carcass.

The chances of Anhedonist and Netherwards finding an audience outside of death and doom metal is slim but for fans of these genres this is a release to inspire and enflame any heart.

RingMaster 13/04/2012

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