I often associate death/doom with waiting, persevering for that perfect riff, enduring the dirge for that most heart-rending of melodies. My ears don't deal well with filler. Anhedonist's Netherwards, however, is 40 minutes of payoff. When the band does the doom, bleak melodies approach sonic perfection, unfurling in radiant, saturnine stereo. Anhedonist challenge My Dying Bride’s greatest moments, taking that forlorn majesty and straining it judiciously through cheesecloth.
Anhedonist also purvey grotesque death, standing firmly in the Incantation-via-quivering-Disma-sludge lineage. The endeavor is undertaken with particular skill, producing a vortex of riffs that won’t soon leave your consciousness. The death and doom modes are fairly discrete, meeting and mixing at borders of ecstatic despondence. That gap is bridged by threads of miasmic melody, entirely memorable and hauntingly cathartic.
Reverberant clean guitar lines bleed into rivers of molten magma and then rush into torrents of raging death. The guitars sprawl out across the stereo field, filling a cavernous soundscape with spine-chilling repartee. The drums are as judiciously dynamic as the songs, keeping modest time in moments of mire, stepping on the pedals for acceleration and bringing the animalistic fury when called upon.
The unhinged vocals tie Netherwards together, securing its frayed ends of sanity with gutworthy growls and contemptuous expectorations. Blood curdling screams erupt over harrowing crescendos, reminding me of John Gossard’s superlative, inconsolable derangement on Weakling’s Dead as Dreams.
Netherwards takes us to the edge of life's abyss, shows us resplendent torment, shows us fathomless rage, and asks us to howl into that oblivion. Step back from the edge, if only to give this album another spin.
Netherwards is available now from Dark Descent Records. Check out a track below: