Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment (Metal Blade)

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020
Rating: 9.5/10

What else can really be said about Anaal Nathrakh when it comes to their unabashedly caustic approach to extreme metal? The band came into a formula that worked really well for them ages ago (and one that no one else even tries to emulate) and they continue to sharpen the edges to the point of near-perfection. Endarkenment doesn’t change around what works for the band, but merely allows them to press forward with their version of musical Armageddon and leave listeners gasping for breath – both in sheer terror and awe.

The one thing that does seem to really stand out this time is the contrasts between jaw-droppingly epic moments of melody and unbridled carnage and destruction. The title track instantly speaks to this notion, with the band taking mere moments to launch into blastbeat and scream-driven chaos and energy. The chorus then knocks the listener back with shining clean vocals and soaring guitar melodies that are elegant, yet still deadly in their approach. The ping-pong between these two elements is what gives Anaal Nathrakh their greatest weapon. “Feeding the Death Machine” is a nice reminder of this later in the album and hits some similar marks, with scorching fast riffs barreling into a highly memorable chorus that slows it down for a few moments of glory.

The band would be one-note though if they did it for each song, and these tracks become more effective because they are surrounded by others. “Thus, Always, to Tyrants” is a caustic one through and through, and it barely relents across its short runtime, sans a few shouted vocals instead of roared/screamed ones, and it sits as an absolute bulldozer of a song. “Libidinous (A Pig with Cocks in its Eyes)” is one of the band’s groovier mid-tempo tracks, with some crushing sledgehammer moments mixing it up with some falsetto vocal moments and a strikingly melodic chorus. “Singularity” uses blackened tremolo melodies to accent the blazing speed and bursts of urgency to mix it up, and finale “Requiem” has an excellent melodic outro that serves as a triumphant close after some tumultuous and gripping heaviness that opens it up.

As it’s been stated in the past, there’s only one Anaal Nathrakh. When they are firing on all cylinders like they are from beginning to end on Endarkenment, few can match the level of intensity crossed with memorable moments. There’s glimmering lights of melody within their dizzying pandemonium, and they make for a thrilling combination.

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