Massive Mega Review: Endarkenment – Anaal Nathrakh

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With the release of UK annihilation corps ANAAL NATHRAKH‘s highly anticipated eleventh opus on the way, a group of the best and brightest from three of the internet’s darkest and dankest metal publications have combined powers to attempt something that’s possibly never been done to date: all sit around and talk shit about an album. So, strap in and listen up as Hayduke X (MoshPitNation), VUK (The Metal Wanderlust), ProgCaveOgier (The Metal Wanderlust), Gos (Black Metal Daily, MoshPitNation, Order ov the Black Arts) and Dex (Black Metal Daily) perform a surgically precise track-by-track dissection and give this apocalyptic beast the attention it deserves… for we have entered the age of ENDARKENMENT. Our end is near.

Hayduke X: I am an editor and writer for MoshPitNation under the name Hayduke X. Though I’ve become a fan of the project, A New Kind of Horror was really my introduction to Anaal Nathrakh. I’d seen the band name before, but hadn’t found the time to check them out to that point. When I saw the ANKOH promo in my inbox, I was pretty keen to check it out based on things I’d heard, and I wasn’t disappointed. Then, Gos and his discography reviews led me on a bit of a dive into the discography. I spent a weekend working on reports for my job and listening to all the full lengths. I pretty much loved it all, but I haven’t really found the time to go back and listen more. ANKOH is the only one I’ve heard multiple times. That said, I’m pretty excited for this latest release.

VUK: Hey there! VUK at The Metal Wanderlust. Hayduke and PCO I know fairly well, I’d say. Unless you guys are imposters! Arrrhhggh!

I, admittedly, do not know a shit ton about Anaal Nathrakh. I am slightly more than a greatest hits fan, I’d say, having heard their single “Forward!” a couple years ago on Liquid Metal. I am familiar with a few of their albums, and have enjoyed them all (including the new one) a great deal. I was excited to hear about this joint reviewing effort, mainly seeing it as an opportunity to learn more about the band and where they’re coming from conceptually. 

I read somewhere a while back that Anaal Nathrakh wanted to be the soundtrack to the end of the world. Seems fitting these days.

ProgCaveOgier: Hi there, it’s PCO speaking. Or writing. Currently writing reviews for The Metal Wanderlust. My first encounter with Anaal Nathrakh was their debut, The Codex Necro. Around those times, I was really into the whole electronics-meet-grind thing in general and was a fan of The Berzerker as well, for example. Loved the debut, but lost the band for years as none of the follow ups really seemed to be in league with it. Then came Vanitas in 2012, which hit the bullseye again and became my album of the year as well. Been following them tightly ever since and I’m really curious about the new one to be unleashed.

Gos: Greetings everyone! I write for Black Metal Daily with Dex and MoshPitNation with Hayduke X, as well as tons of unpublished “reviews” and commentary for Order ov the Black Arts black metal community on Facebook (also on YouTube and other platforms to a lesser extent). My background in terms of extreme metal is probably about 85% black metal and the rest a mixture of other things, the bulk of which is probably some form of death metal. 

I became aware of Anaal Nathrakh probably around 2004 or 2005 right after the release of Domine…, but it was actually The Codex Necro that I heard first and which hooked me. I have loved them ever since. I could count on one hand the number of bands that I know as well as Anaal Nathrakh, and there’s none other that I know as well that have as many albums as they do. My favorite albums are The Codex Necro (2001) and Eschaton (2006). I might not always be completely into them at any given moment, and if I had to listen to one album for the rest of my life I’m not sure that it would be one of theirs, but if we’re going on criteria like consistency, longevity, and overall exposure, in some ways you could consider them my “favorite” band.

I’ve got an ever-developing full discography review that I first wrote in 2017 or 2018 (before ANKOH) and which I tinker with and update every time an album comes out, so I pretty much know their discography up and down. To bring it back full circle, it was this discography review which first caught Dex’s attention, which then eventually evolved into me writing lots of reviews on the regular for Black Metal Daily and MoshPitNation.

DEX: Hails, salutations and g’day cunts. I’m Aaron (otherwise known as Dex, the editor and a writer for Black Metal Daily, plus a few other places over the years). I first discovered the horrid delights of the ‘thrakh when my ears were assaulted by the sheer disgust of ‘Between Shit And Piss We Are Born’ on a Terrorizer Mag promo CD around when Eschaton was dropping; I fucking loved it, bought their previous albums straight away and the Brummie bastards have been one of my all-time favourite bands since then. I’m even wearing a Nathrakh shirt while typing this. Nice to meet you VUK and ProgCaveOgier, have seen some great stuff from you lately!

VUK: Thanks, man! Excellent to meet you as well. It seems I’m the AN newbie, which is fine by me! Haha! I’m sure to learn a lot about these guys from this write up. Very exciting.

Hayduke X: I’m pretty much a newbie myself. We’ll kneel at the feet of the masters. Lol.

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ENDARKENMENT

Hayduke X: So, now that we have introductions done, let’s jump into the album. This time around, they start off with the title track ‘Endarkenment’. Musically (and I think this goes through much of the album, with an asterisk, for me), I don’t think they’re really breaking any new ground here. Some slight evolutions on what is their own unique sound, but it’s clear we’re headed into an Anaal Nathrakh album, I’d say. Lyrically, from what I can tell, they are talking about the current tendency to find our own “facts” in often dubious sources, and to double-down on these, come hell or high water. Am I making any kind of sense here?

Gos: You’re absolutely making sense. The term “endarkenment” is a play on the term “enlightenment”. Whereas enlightenment can be seen both as the process of gaining knowledge, as well as the age in which Western culture made a leap forward in terms of reason, empiricism, intellectual advancement, progression, and tolerance… what is being referenced here is the process or a current age of obscuration, deception, regression, ignorance and intolerance. Focusing on social philosophy and cultural critiques is pretty standard for Dave Hunt, but he doesn’t usually seem to be this specific about current events and I find it interesting that they chose to name the entire album with this term. It makes me assume that this album takes a more focused, ‘realism’ approach to actual current events instead of being more abstract, like many of their other albums tend to be conceptually.

Hayduke X: Yeah, I’m curious now, given that it’s the album title also, how often variations of this theme will pop up. I hadn’t thought of that aspect. I also haven’t made much headway in deciphering lyrics.

Gos: I could be mistaken, but there might actually be a lyric video for this song? Which is the first time they’ve ever done that.

DEX: There is an unofficial lyric video (which does have the correct lyrics, confirmed by Mick) – the official lyric video was for ‘The Age Of Starlight Ends’, I believe. And yes, right out of the gate this track confirms my long-held opinion that Hunt is one of the best lyricists around. It may seem an innocuous line, but even the implications of “fuck you if you think I am wrong, the answers I have are all the answers I need” really sum it up for me – and are a sad indictment of where we are at as a species.

Gos: Absolutely Dex. Reading those lyrics, one thing to note about Hunt, he doesn’t really tend to place blame at the feet of those in power, or at least he’s not really talking about them. Moreso he seems to talk about the masses doing this or that. The song ‘On Being A Slave’ comes to mind, which has pretty disgusting lyrics but it really all revolves around disgust of people allowing themselves to be enslaved and not really a condemnation of the “master” for enslaving. Not that he is a proponent of the master, but just that his scope tends to be wider and to ponder on people’s behavior in general. His lyrics are more observational as opposed to targeting.   

DEX: Nailed it. We’re fucked, and we are allowing it to happen to ourselves. Musically speaking, to return to Hayduke‘s point – this immediately feels more “Nathrakh” than they’ve felt in a while, to me. Is that a good thing? Two words: FUCK. YES. It already seems Mick has stripped back the excess bells and whistles (lost the more pronounced electronic influences that have popped up now and again since they first worked with UK drum ‘n bass producer Gore Tech on Desideratum, toned back the audio effects and samples ever-so-slightly etc) and just gone back to hitting fucking hard – yet with an increased emphasis on melody. Dave said “in terms of feel, it’s more brighter, open and direct than we’ve been in the past”, and I agree with him… which ties into Gos‘ point about the lyrics taking a more focused, current approach. The entire album feels more like that to me.

Gos: Agreed.

VUK: From my perspective, having listened to the majority of the discography in just a small amount of time, it seems to me that this opening track is much more melodic in the vocal department. Then going into the second track more on the Industrial side of things, which together, I think, is a formula the band has been trying to perfect since Vanitas.

DEX: Man, speaking of melody in the vocal department – this chorus is one of Dave‘s all-time greats for me, and with Mick‘s complementary lead afterward… ugh. Fucking love it.

Gos: This is great! Yeah VUK, those melodic cleans for the chorus are something that has developed over time but has become a staple feature for the band. The Codex Necro doesn’t have any of that. The second album, Domine Non Es Dignus has two songs that do it (‘Do Not Speak’… I HIGHLY recommend checking that song out, one of the best of their entire repertoire, and ‘This Cannot Be The End’). From there he seems to incorporate it more and more in each album and now there aren’t many tracks that don’t feature it.  

PCO: The thing that struck me with the tune ‘Endarkenment’ is that whereas in the past Anaal Nathrakh have been throwing in a lot of different influences like have already been mentioned here and making their music very nihilistic, dark and chaotic with it, now it seems they have stripped down a bit instead. The opening tune sounds very focused, like they had intended to write a “hit” almost. All in the positive sense of the word. This focused and clarified musical direction sure seems to add punch.

VUK: I agree that there is a bit more of a mainstream appeal to this song, musically, which is a bit ironic considering the subject matter. And, as you said, the “hit” quality of it is certainly not negative. 

And going back to something Gos touched on earlier, lyrically this does seem like a commentary on people in general… a bit of a dumbing down of reason, or perhaps a mass collective escape from “reality” by just tossing out anything reasonable simply because it’s so exhausting to keep up with the quickness of changes in the world.

THUS, ALWAYS, TO TYRANTS

DEX: A good, old-fashioned hyperblaster from the lads; if anyone was worried they were going soft this is an almighty “fuck off then” with two fingers raised high. Although, counter to what we just said – “You all deserve to die… sic semper tyrannis”. Is Mr. V.I.T.R.I.O.L actually aiming at the tyrants this time?

Gos: This fucking rips! Ha, yeah way for them to prove me wrong, not only about the targeting but also about the cleans… none in this track really, just that shouting, and I’m fine with it. Kind of welcome actually, in a way. There’s something like, “old-school Nathrakh” about this riffing and progression which reminds me of a lot of what we hear circa Hell Is Empty… (2007), except the production is brought up to speed. Definitely a resurgence of focus on their classic black/grind sound. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t getting a little worried there with ANKOH

PCO: Absolutely agree with the “old-school Nathrakh” vibe. This tune has it. It’s a mean piece of contempt put on a record and kind of pats the fan on the metaphorical shoulder and says, “we still know how to do it, even if the first song was a bit chorus heavy”. 

VUK: Yeah, definitely a ripper of a tune. Short and to the point, sort of a bitch slap to whatever “tyrant” that’s to your liking. In some of the promo material, if I read it right, they’re pointing out some of the different ways tyranny can represent itself. In reminding us that “Thus, always, to tyrants” was what John Wilkes Booth said before assassinating Abraham Lincoln, and was a slogan worn by Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh. The band seems to be mocking the misguided rage people like this possess. In listening, there is almost a jovial nature to the song. Laughing in the faces of fools, so to speak. 

THE AGE OF STARLIGHT ENDS

DEX: So this is the track with the official lyric video, the first viewing of which which provided me with two chuckles: Dave spitting the line “A thousand COCKS” and the reference to Monty Python‘s The Meaning Of Life (“If they’re Mister Creosote, we’re not even a wafer thin mint”). Glorious. All I can do is applaud both efforts, really – but what do we all think about it musically?

Gos: Wow, I really love this sort of creepy sustained choir synth effects at the beginning of this track. And this chorus is gonna be like heroin-level addictive, I can tell right now. Oop, there’s that synth again bridging the chorus to the next verse… cool. That choir effect I think first appeared in just the last album, on ‘Obscene as Cancer’ and ‘Are We Fit For Glory Yet’, a welcome addition in my opinion.

DEX: is it just me, or does anyone else get a slight Iron Maiden influence creeping in? 

PCO: I think I know what you mean, Dex. There’s a sense of turbo-boosted Maiden to be sensed. Another chorus heavy track, with a definite fist pump vibe to it. 

VUK: I agree completely about the addictive nature of that chorus! I thought of late 1980’s/early 1990’s Metal as well. Sort of a Power Metal vibe, like Accept or Metal Church, maybe? Certainly heavier than that overall, but I hear the influence. The melodies in the lead guitar, mixed with that creepy synth, really creates a nice atmosphere. 

LIBIDINOUS (A PIG WITH COCKS IN ITS EYES)

DEX: Well then, this seems like an apt point to ask – what were everyone’s thoughts the first time they laid eyes on that rather delightful cover art?

Gos: The cover art was somewhat unexpected, but I was even more surprised at the amount of criticism they got on social media from it. Seems like a very ‘grind’ aesthetic and nowhere near as fucked up as the gore cover art which is so popular across several genres, at which nobody seems to really bat an eye. Also, it’s in perfect alignment with themes that Anaal Nathrakh has expressed numerous times over the decades, albeit perhaps not visually. Do dudes really have that much of a problem catching a glance of some dicks? I find myself fairly neutral on the art itself but amused at the backlash, which only makes it seem like it is effective at doing… whatever the fuck it is supposed to do. *shrug* That said, I wouldn’t wear it on a shirt. My favorite of their cover art is that from Vanitas

VUK: The cover art seems to amplify what the band has been trying to say at various points… that the world is run by a bunch of pigs who think with their dicks. And it does point out a double standard, because if it was, say, a swan with breasts, no one would have a problem with it. 

Gos: Musically, I’m somewhat less enthusiastic about this track. Not that it’s bad, just like the three previous ones more. The melody is cool but I’m not a huge fan of that more deathcore slant on the guitar. 

DEX: Dudes definitely do have a problem with seeing dicks, it seems – but that’s a whole separate discussion. As for the song, I quite like it. Solid stuff; low, punishing and pulverizing until one of those trademark soaring choruses… and I’m quietly chuffed that Dave‘s King Diamond impersonation finally pops up again. “A pig with cocks in its eeeeyes… masturbatiiiing to the end of the woooorld”. Lovely, and razor-sharp social commentary once more.

BEYOND WORDS

DEX: I gotta say, the beginning of this track with the “Eat shit fuck face” sample simply has to be a knowing throwback to the “Go and kill yourself” introduction of ‘The One Thing Needful‘ from Desideratum. Mick must have an absolute ball creating this stuff!

Gos: Yes! Dex I thought the exact same thing, that moment immediately came to mind! This is better overall, back to form now. Sweet. …hahaha: “FUCK!” (1:35). No cleans on this one either? This kicks ass. This REALLY kicks ass.

DEX: Blackened grind all the way. I fucking LOVE this shit. Obliterating. The trademark Irrumator drum programming is incredibly satisfying here, and Dave‘s vocals heading back into “indecipherable inhuman rage” territory always makes my pants fit nice. I reckon this might be my favourite track on the album besides ‘Endarkenment’.

VUK: Yeah, this kicks things up a notch! An incredibly destructive song, and I like how it is described by the band; as an expression of a “Dionysian ecstasy of loathing”, or this idea that the fulfilment of desire exists on the opposite side of order and control. So, that “FUCK!” at 1:35 is pretty much all that needs said. 

DEX: Pure menace, revelling in disgust – a “Dionysian ecstasy of loathing” is bang-on what this sounds like. Side note, anyone heard from Hayduke? Been a little quiet over there mate… Hayduke? You still with us?

FEEDING THE DEATH MACHINE

Gos: This seems like a very middle-of-the-road track. It does seem to have a bit of melodic death metal influence thrown in there, coincidence that the word ‘death’ appears in the track title as well? Despite the later albums’ flirtation with deathcore, there really isn’t much in their discography overall that is specifically death metal in a classic sense, despite careless categorizations galore. 

VUK: Vocally, it’s not quite as catchy as ‘The Age of Starlight Ends‘, but I do enjoy the chorus. I agree with your mention of melo-death, particularly with the guitar leads. 

Lyrically, it seems a variation on the theme of human self-destruction and complete misunderstanding or mishandling of power as it relates to “other” people. In this case, a song inspired by the story of a man who survived the Auschwitz death camp simply because the guards enjoyed how he played the cello. This man, though a survivor, contributed to “feeding the death machine” by entertaining the soldiers who were killing his people. He describes himself as an “unperson”, having no control over the world around him but being forced to aid in the creation of holocaust. That’s an absolutely devastating concept!  

DEX: those rising melodic leads that surge through the chorus are great and hit me in a strange way; they have a slight martial feel to them, as well as being sorrowful / melancholic… quite apt given the subject matter, really.  

PCO: This was one of the very first songs that hit home after the first listen of the album. It sure has the vibe At The Gates, for example, threw at us with great success in 1995, but here it is surged through with such a force that the thing feels to be updated to current standard and does not have a copy vibe to it. The chorus is, once again, mind blowing. I think we can already see the pattern on this album forming: sheer power and focus of the material that is somewhat more stripped down than usual, seems to be unstoppable and easy to like. 

CREATE ART, THOUGH THE WORLD MAY PERISH

Gos: The beginning of this reminds me of Mastodon’s track ‘March of the Fire Ants’ on steroids and coke. Intensity level kicked up a notch from the last track, which I always support! Intrigued by the title of the track and wondering what the lyrics are, which reminds me, most of Hunt’s lyrics are unpublished and near indecipherable, so this group needs a nod for anyone seriously wanting to engage: Nathrakh Lyric Research https://www.facebook.com/groups/1805740076360624/ . Goddamn, the last third of this track is ferocious!

DEX: Nathrakh Lyric Research is a great group, backed hard. Join, people!

VUK: I love this title! Depending on the context, it could mean so many things. You could go the route of Nero and fiddle a tune while the city you rule burns around you, or the route of Banksy and risk your freedom to draw attention to injustice and inequality. One form of art does something for the artist, the other does something for the audience. 

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the lyrics for this album, which has come in quite handy while discussing previous tracks. What I find interesting is the lyrics on this track seem secondary to the title and the melody (at least to me). 

Gos: Ha! VUK, your comments up above reminded me that I too have the promo material for this and lo!, there are the lyrics, as you say! I sheepishly admit I didn’t even check that PDF, partly because I never assumed that they would provide this much insight to their tracks (this is a first as far as I know), and partly because I just straight up forgot about it! Looking at that now… an expression of populism and its potential connection to fascism? God, I love these guys. I tend to be averse to politics in music generally, but true to form, this is more like pondering political philosophy than actually digging in on one “side” of things.  

PCO: Well, this one is AN to the fullest! There’s the atonal edge of grindcore versus another almost Iron Maiden-esque chorus. It’s pretty damn hard to ignore the song writing, musicianship and production here. This tune in particular is the Bruce Dickinson moment of Dave Hunt’s career.

DEX: …and Brucey should be honoured by that comparison. Get Dave on the next Maiden album, they can do a duet.

SINGULARITY

Gos: Another fairly straightforward track, sounds like a lot of what we hear on Vanitas, Desideratum, and The Whole of the Law. Not bad, but nothing really to write home about. It really reminds me a lot of a specific song, I think it might be ‘Idol’ or ‘The One Thing Needful’ from Desideratum, but as I browse through those albums now I feel like I could also point to half a dozen others at least, probably more. The implication here? Nobody should shy away from the idea that Anaal Nathrakh is often formulaic and often produces tracks that are fairly homogeneous. But, I’m not trying to use those terms disparagingly because that formula kicks ass, and when they deviate from it in some ways, those are the tracks that I often don’t like as much. …Ok fine, lets talk about ‘Forward!’, et al…. yeah yeah I know it’s as catchy as all fuck, and who am I to criticize Mick and all of his creative genius? It’s not even that I dislike it necessarily. But dammit, if I wanted to listen to Blessthefall then I would. I think it might actually be a bit of a burden to have been with the band since the Necro days because that early stuff is just so fucking devastating, and it is hard to completely separate anything current from what I love of the past. My own problem I know, but in my humble opinion: Nathrakh’s formula is great; if and when they push towards the fringes of it, it is best when it is a push that is MORE aggressive. This is why I’m leaning towards the harder songs on this album like ‘Thus, Always, To Tyrants’ and ‘Beyond Words’. End rant.

VUK: You’ve got an excellent point about the potential “burden” a long time AN fan might have, or come to cultivate with time. And, really, any band that’s been around a while probably shares that challenge. I like this song, though. It’s got a bit of an epic feel to it, with that main guitar melody. Coming up on it being the ass-end of the album, it’s got a fitting atmosphere. 

DEX: Man, I fucking love ‘Forward!’ (or the “dubstep” track, as a few musically handicapped fuckwits called it when it dropped as the first single back then). It’s one of the tracks I still regularly jam from that album… but I catch your drift. On the flipside, being a long-term Anaal Nathrakh fan can also have its benefits – when it comes to tracks that some may say “yeah, just sounds like Nathrakh“, a connoisseur will often instead be able to discern the subtle differences and advances in their formula. I mention that because similarly to what Hayduke said earlier, I feel a lot of listeners might dismiss this album in that way, when if you dig a little the differences from previous works are delightful. But yeah, killer song that wants to rip your testicles off and shove them up your nostrils.

Gos: The lyrical concept here is fucking fascinating, and so goddamn true: A species that doesn’t know shit about itself and which can’t evolve out of rudimentary, power-based social structures, is creating technology that will essentially soon be godlike. Sweet.

PCO: The opening of the tune has one of the very few industrial type-of moments on the album in it. It somehow feels that this department especially has been stripped down this time and the skeleton that remains is very much traditional metal: Guitar hooks, bass guitar low in the mix and vocals dominating on top of the riff. 

DEX: Yes! That’s what I was saying earlier, totally agreed. Stripping back, and it’s fucking ace. The way those industrial/electronic elements are utilized in that intro is tasteful, too; less in-your-face and more atmospheric. 

Also, breaking news: Hayduke just messaged… the opening bars of ‘Thus, Always, To Tyrants’ hit him that hard it put him in the hospital. A moment of silence for our fallen comrade, please. 

PUNISH THEM

Gos: Another fairly aggressive track. Nice. I don’t have a lot to say about this one, I guess I kinda said enough about the last. 

PCO: This one should be a pretty murderous tune in a live situation! Another Gothenburg riff on this one and what has really surprised me is the fact they do not annoy me, like this kind of semi-melodic riff structure usually does. If somebody had told me, before the album was out, it would have almost In Flames-esque riffs in it, it would have filled me with pure dread. But fear not – this is surgical aggression and a bold melodic throw here works for the benefit of the composition. The tune sticks to your mind with ease, for being such a violent number. 

DEX: All the best bits of mid-late period Nathrakh in one lethal hit. It’s going to fucking SLAY live. I hope they have good insurance, because people are gonna die.

VUK: A massively violent song, indeed! Fantastic riffs on this thing, and aggressive vocals much like ‘Beyond Words’, though it’s difficult to say which one is heavier. This actually reminds me a bit of Ministry. Other parts of the album have a Skinny Puppy vibe, at least to my ears. I enjoy that about Anaal Nathrakh quite a bit… their Industrial side. Mainly because it rides a line somewhere between Fear Factory and Godflesh, mixing in more samples and frantically programmed drums. Very much their own sound. 

The concept of this song, while strong, doesn’t hit me as hard as ‘Thus, Always, To Tyrants‘ or ‘Feeding the Death Machine‘. By outlining the story of a woman who was caught smuggling drugs into Malaysia and was put on death row despite the fact that she broke the law against her will, clearly demonstrates the punishment doesn’t always fit the crime. But SOMEBODY needs to be punished, right? 

DEX: Somebody, yes – the proven guilty if at all possible, or arguably those who are totally comfortable killing someone apparently forced to commit a crime against their will could also be punished for being shitty humans. Not you, VUK! I’m not sure I’m supposed to let this delicious morsel of information slip but I’m referring to when Mick and Dave were apparently reading about that incarcerated woman, the comment sections they discovered (oh, how I love the comment sections) were full of people spewing the typically brutal rhetoric of the spectacularly dense and uninformed… so the lads decided to make audio recordings of themselves reading them aloud, which is what you’re hearing when that intense layer of babble and brimstone surfaces through the mix in the middle of the composition. In a way, this song has literal venom running through its veins and is the embodiment of what Anaal Nathrakh do best – exposing humanity at its worst. A fascinating track, for me.

REQUIEM

Gos: Wow! Fittingly epic, blasting, savage, and melodic all at once. Immediately stands out as one of the better tracks on the album for me. Great guitar lead there. A great closing track, really. And I always love me some Neitzsche! This one refers to Neitzsche’s proclamation of the death of God at the hands of the enlightenment, but in this case, to come full circle, Hunt is identifying the death of enlightenment values at the hands of endarkenment. Me, I’m sort of inclined to think that enlightenment values themselves have led us to state of the the world we are seeing today, and that this endarkenment isn’t really a *rejection* of enlightenment values, but an unfortunately negative progression of them. 

PCO: I think you have addressed a solid point there Gos! As everything should somehow manage to balance on the middle-ground for the best results, overdoing it and going too far with even such a noble cause as the idea of enlightenment is, can lead to problems. Somehow, this tune fills me with ideas of how everything is a cycle and it all will have to fall and burn in the end, to be able to pick up anew and rebuild. The structures we, as cultures, are building have their flaws, but they cannot be necessarily undone or fixed as they are so set to stone. Even we see the ship is heading to rocks. “The road to hell is filled with good intentions” is the oldest phrase in the book, but it is often the truth too. Humanity is a thing of both – of great triumphs and errors, and even if our intentions are the most noble kind, we can still go wrong with them. All these kinds of big ideas come to mind while listening to this tune and that is a great indicator of the quality at hand here. Metal sure is a wonderful thing, as it can make us think while beating our faces in at the same time. 

VUK: Without a doubt my favorite song on the album, which is saying a lot because there really isn’t a weak moment to be had. I agree with both of you guys on the content. Not much else to add from my point of view, but it’s worth pointing out a tragic element within the music that isn’t present in the rest of the material. The guitar solo that starts about four-minutes in sounds entirely improvised, adding a passion that can’t be faked or processed. Iron Maiden was mentioned earlier. That influence is quite obvious at the end here. 

DEX: I’m going to be the odd one out here, slightly – it’s strange, but even after dozens of repeated spins the first section of this track just hasn’t fully clicked for me. Something about how that kinda dissonant melodic lead sits, I dunno. However, the rest of the track (Maiden!) and that epic-as-all-fuck conclusion more than redeem it; it ends up being the perfect final note to a ripper of an album and a glorious crescendo to the melodic slant that has been increasingly building across the duration. The last two minutes of this track are ultimate, and this is undoubtedly one of the best album closers they’ve ever had.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Gos: I thought this album was pretty damn good, and it’s better than I thought it would be. I’m particularly appreciating the lack of forays into djenty or metalcore territory and it seems like there’s several angles from which they dialed up the ferocity factor. I’m surprised at the increased transparency that the band is providing, as well as the number of songs that decline to swing into that pattern of melodic chorus with clean vocals. While I frequently like those parts in other albums, I’m finding myself particularly drawn to tracks that don’t do that as much here (‘Thus, Always, To Tyrants’, ‘Beyond Words’, ‘Requiem’). Even so, a few of those clean melodic choruses have undeniable hooks which don’t easily leave your head (‘Endarkenment’, ‘The Age of Starlight Ends’). After A New Kind of Horror I was pretty concerned that Nathrakh was going to stray afar from black metal altogether, but I think those concerns have been laid to rest for now. Comparatively in their discography I’m liking this better than A New Kind of Horror and probably better than Passion as well, but not sure it quite reaches the level of The Whole of the Law, Constellation or much prior, and probably will end up sitting near Vanitas and Desideratum at around a 7-8/10. Overall I’m pretty amped for it!

PCO: After Vanitas they have come close but have not quite touched the glory of their masterpiece of an album in my books. Desideratum was maybe even a bit of a disappointment around the time of release and The Whole of the Law and A New Kind of Horror sure did come close, but eventually did not quite reach the level of quality I like to think AN stands for. The previous two especially seemed to have quite a lot to digest in them, many musical directions and a whole set of different types of vocals for example, but Endarkenment comes off as much more straightforward, but also significantly more enjoyable experience. It has “CLASSIC METAL RECORD” written all over it, something you are able to lash to your speakers years and years from now and be as much excited about it. As far as the tracks themselves go, I’m surprisingly drawn towards the singles (which is a rare thing usually) and I’d like to lift Endarkenment and The Age of Starlight Ends as my top tracks. But my number one tune from the album is still Create Art, Though the World May Perish. It simply is an embodiment of what this band is all about. The two that do not hold me in their grip as well as the rest of the record are Libidinous and Singularity. They drop the numeral down a notch from full points. Nevertheless, this kind of an album is a nice start for a new decade and a definite 9/10 release. Definitely recommended and the sharpest one they have done in a while.  

VUK: As a newer fan of the band, as I said earlier, this album seems like another step in the progression of Anaal Nathrakh as an artistic expression. Gos, your surprise at their transparency this time around is kind of lost on me, not having been through the ordeal of trying to identify the lyrical themes on my own, but I do see what you mean. If in the past they took a more mysterious approach, their decision to make their ideas so public on this album cycle, I think, is just perfect timing. Given the current state of the world, especially in politics, “cancel culture”, and the reality show mentality that blinds the masses into thinking they can trust everything their favorite “characters” say… really hits home with Endarkenment. Stand out tracks for me are ‘Thus, Always, to Tyrants‘, ‘Create Art, Though the World May Perish’, ‘Feeding the Death Machine’ and ‘Requiem’. It is a ridiculously enjoyable listening experience on multiple levels, and shares a quality all great albums have: insurability of repeated spins. This isn’t an album you listen to once and forget about. It makes a statement, drawing you in with both melody and aggression in their purest forms, and only lets you rest for long enough to catch a breath before the next wave knocks you on your ass. A solid 8/10 for me. 

DEX: THE ‘THRAKH ARE BACK. After the divisive A New Kind Of Horror, are they playing it safe? Nah. They’re just tweaking the formula a bit; a re-focusing toward the core of what makes Nathrakh the most nihilistic and loathful band on the planet whilst taking subtle steps in a direction that’s different to the way they went on A New Kind Of Horror. At once reminding us why we love ’em and forging ever-onwards into the sunset. 8/10, would let it sear my face off again, devastating… fans new and old need to listen up, and enjoy our inexorable slide into Endarkenment.

Hayduke X: *muffled groans*

time passes…

Hayduke X:  Guys, I was finally cleared for release. I’m back and ready to go. I brought pizza. Who likes pepperoni?  ….guys?…..guys?…..Anybody here?

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