Review Summary: Towards a wider scope
With a hybrid sound signature that blends a wide range of styles, Anaal Nathrakh is arguably one of the most distinctive extreme metal projects of the new millennium. Its complex DNA, composed of several layers ranging from grind to black metal, has become one of the most recognized brands within the metal realm in the past two decades. The corrosive palette offered by Mick Kenney (aka Irrumator) and vocalist Dave Hunt (aka V.I.T.R.I.O.L) is an interdisciplinary approach to chaos. A caustic wall of sound that moves through parallel stylistic dimensions with the sole purpose of striking the listener with massive intensity. Nevertheless, despite its extreme core, the band's personality is both radical and eclectic, which not only benefits the songwriting but also the expectation surrounding each release. With ten albums under their belt, Anaal Nathrakh has been building a solid career over the last two decades, filled with strong highlights such as the debut album The Codex Necro
, Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here
, or Vanitas
, which was arguably one of the best releases of 2012. Although the duo has always expressed a taste for melody and catchy hooks, it was from Vanitas
that the band gradually evolved its sound into a more comprehensive signature. The 2018 A New Kind of Horror
was the culmination of this more accessible approach, shown in songs like 'Forward!', featuring a simpler, mainstream language. Although not all Anaal Nathrakh's fans have embarked on this broader adventure, I have been enjoying the band's most recent endeavors. I have always admired bands that gradually open up their horizons without losing their link with their past. Although the duo has never delivered anything radically different, it is notorious that Anaal Nathrakh has always tried to introduce new tonalities into their chromatic palette. I respect this creative restlessness, that's what makes the world go round.
As I had expected, Anaal Nathrakh's 2020 release proved to be the logical continuation of the path mapped out over the past decade. Filled with catchy, engaging hooks, Endarkenment
is yet another step towards an increasingly comprehensive signature. The title track's semi-operatic chorus, which swings on a power metal-ish foundation, or the Helloween-esque guitar solo in 'The Age of Starlight Ends', are both remarkable examples of this aesthetic posture. These melodic layers are a constant throughout the album, conferring on it an attractiveness that contrasts with the songwriting's more chaotic and corrosive foundations. The tuneful tremolo picking in 'Feeding the Death Machine' or 'Requiem's' epic ending are other fine examples of this more melodic signature. But make no mistake, the band's most aggressive and chaotic DNA, although more mature, is still very much alive. It is the balance between this irreverent personality and the most melodic nuances that shape Endarkenment
and makes it swing for forty minutes.
Despite the album's overall quality, I can't help but highlight 'Libidinous (A Pig with Cocks in Its Eyes)', which is not only my favorite song but also one of the best tracks the band has ever recorded. Its King Diamond-esque bridge that flows into a super catchy chorus is certainly among the album's greatest moments. 'The Age of Starlight Ends', with its provocative, almost naif, chorus should also be mentioned since it is one of those emblematic songs that stands out from the pack. There are no fillers nor stagnation points, Endarkenment
works as a whole, with each song being part of a larger picture painted by two individuals who have known each other intimately for more than twenty years. ‘Singularity's’ main riff or the dynamic Mortuus-esque vocals in 'Create Art, Though the World May Perish' are also among the album's most interesting moments.
is the most logical step towards a wider scope. It is a statement without fear of taking risks or exploring new grounds. Because at the end of the day, it is this restlessness that opens up new horizons throughout our journey, as men, and as creative individuals.