Dark Descent Records
After the highly revered demo release in the form of 2010’s The Drear, death/doom metal band Anhedonist this year finally returns with their debut full length album, Netherwards. While the album contains just four tracks, the entirety of the album spans 40 minutes, with each track averaging 10 minutes, and this certainly makes for a rather interesting format. One’s curiosity is further piqued by the captivating album artwork, the coalescing of numerous bodies into one large haunting yet mystical pattern.
The mysteriousness and insanity of the band is further displayed through the sudden transition from the rather silent intro segment on Saturnine into utter chaos with little caution beforehand, other than the looming heavy and ominous atmosphere that lurks. As the first guitar riffs are presented to the listener, one is thrown into a myriad of heavy pounding on the drums and heavily distorted guitars, reminding listeners to bands such as Incantation, and even more so as the music starts to get to a mid-pace that will maintain for the most part of the album. Yet, Saturnine is not exactly representative of the band’s style as things start to get more interesting as the album progresses.
The heavy atmosphere on the album is made possible through the clever usage of the instrumentations by the band. Other than the bass providing that low-end growl, the placement of lead guitars on the album also help to reinforce that dark mood, such as those on Saturnine. Vocalist V.B.’s monstrous growls further bring about that aggressive edge in the music, and later tracks see him infuse an emotional edge in his vocal delivery, making the listener feel as though what little glimmer of hope is being sucked dry by the band, especially on Estrangement.
As the album progresses, one can’t help but notice how the emotion and the atmosphere of the album gets darker and heavier. While album opener Saturnine started off with a mostly aggressive and destructive mood, later tracks on the album begin to show a slight reduction in this belligerent side and a somewhat more pensive mood appearing. For instance, the introductory clean guitar lines on Estrangement would have easily fit into a depressive black metal record, or at least a more emotional death metal-related album such as those moody gothic/doom metal releases of Draconian (of course, minus the keyboards). Closing track Inherent Opprobrium presents a nice end to the album, being the longest, and also the most intense track on the album with that dreadful mood and doom-pace. The long run times of the tracks on the album also allow for the climax for the individual tracks to slowly build up, and for music like Anhedonist‘s this is certainly a good thing.
Netherwards is quite an emotional rollercoaster of a release, with the band constantly switching between different modes and styles throughout the album, and this definitely makes the album an interesting and constantly engaging one to listen to.