Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment Review

Normally, an introductory paragraph would see a reviewer (me, in this case) make a witty or deep observation that somehow, someway pertains to the album in question. That’s not happening today for two reasons. One, trying to come up with something witty or playful during such a shit time in everyone’s lives, week in and week out, becomes draining when I possess about as much joy to throw at you as the creative team at WWE possesses the ability to write captivating, enthralling television. And two, today’s subject isn’t about joy. Or happiness. Or humor. Rather, Anaal Nathrakh‘s eleventh album, Endarkenment,1 encapsulates in roughly 41 minutes just what an absolute clusterfuck this year has been to everyone and everything. Considering that I didn’t take to their previous album, A New Kind of Horror, I went into Endarkenment apprehensively, even after enjoying the first two singles immensely. By and large, though, they delivered.

Man, did they deliver. Let’s get this out of the way right now; the title track’s won my vote for Song o’ the Year by a violent landslide ever since I first laid ears upon it back in August, and it’s grown in both hooks and meaning since. Especially seeing how things are progressively becoming more bleak since it first aired. Between Mick Kenney’s tremolo melodies and riffs, Dave Hunt’s trademark shrieks and proselytizing end-of-days vocal hooks in that monstrous chorus, and lyrics that resonate with those jaded by politics, armchair Facebook CNN/Fox News/MSNBC correspondents, and general finger-pointing without fucking fixing anything2, “Endarkenment” throws the gauntlet down hard. Opening the album with this was a gutsy maneuver, and honestly I didn’t think it would have been the best idea…

That is, if there weren’t other strong candidates for Song o’ the Year throughout the album. “Libidinous (A Pig With Cocks In Its Eyes)” sees Hunt again doing his King Diamond falsettos with grand effect in the pre-chorus (“A pig with cocks in its eyes/masturbating to the end of our world”) with another catchy chorus that burrows into your head on repeated listens. “Thus, Always, to Tyrants” and “Punish Them” eschew the clean vocals and catchy hooks entirely, opting to go for the throat in ways their older albums could only dream of doing. By the time closer “Requiem” rolls by, with its Mozart-gone-awry tremolo passages giving way to an almost mournful, almost tranquil, and most certainly awesome melodic ending, you’re left reflecting on the chaos, and what to do or where to go from there.

Dave Hunt stated in interviews that Endarkenment burned brighter than previous albums, and possessed a newfound maturity in the lyrics and songwriting. This go-around, the songs are more melodic than before, all while still maintaining their brand of nihilistic brutality. “Create Art, Though the World May Perish” hit me like Dark Tranquillity‘s “The Mundane and the Magic” on first listen, and struck me as an odd duckling that I couldn’t warm up to. But that brings up another change: the band saw fit to include most of the lyrics this time, as Hunt didn’t want vague interpretations of what he was saying. Rather, he wanted it clear as day, and reading the meaning in the song’s creation, not to mention the second verse’s stark, almost militaristic tone, the same chorus that seemed a call-to-arms about rising above your oppressors took on a sinister new meaning when the oppressors are also singing the same tune on the second pass. That, folks, is growth.

And growth is a great thing. Is Endarkenment an improvement over Horror? By leaps and bounds, yes. It’s too early to see where it stands in the band’s phenomenal catalog, however. Also, the band’s newfound appreciation for more hooks and melodies might rub some the wrong way. That said, in a year full of hardship, heartbreak, disappointment, and absolute incompetence everywhere you look, Endarkenment is the album that I wanted and needed right the fuck now. I never thought nihilism would be this soulful.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: anaalnathrakh.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Anaalnathrakhofficial
Releases Worldwide: October 2nd, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Grymm, what happened to the Enporkenment artwork? – Holdeneye
  2. “Why ask questions now?/We know all we need to know (nothing)/Fuck you if you think I am wrong/The answers I have are all the answers I need.”
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