Anhedonist - _Netherwards_
(Dark Descent Records, 2012)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
On _Netherwards_, Anhedonist are in no rush to tip their hand or win a quick fan or two. Almost nothing happens for the length of an overlong grind song (nearly two minutes), but when the engine starts, expect these Seattle natives to go all opening-scene-of-Casino on your ass.

There's something about sick, haunted-mine death doom that takes hold of both lungs and squeezes mercilessly, wonderfully. Lead track "Saturnine" embraces the chest with just such exquisite asphyxiation. Casually crying death doom, though, does a poor job representing the range of sounds sloughing off the record's dire frame. Muddy and mossy though it be, some of the riffing on "Saturnine" could constitute an entire metalcore album if they dug it up and shined the shit out of it. Second track "Estrangement" grumbles around a lead more Swallow the Sun than diSEMBOWELMENT, and some midsong vocals rise from the groaning brimstone pits into hopeless, maddening shrieks. The first half of "Carne Liberatus" flutters with guitar-tone love letters to Portal's twisted death terrors. Fourth and final killer "Inherent Opprobrium" mourns deeply and unabashedly with an uncomplicated clean lead underpinning all the buzzing anguish splattered over its quarter hour duration. On a related note, four tracks might be the perfect dose for such dense slabs of heavitude. Thou shalt not count three unless thou proceeds directly unto four, and all that. (Five is right out.) Mournful Congregation, Esoteric and Asunder have all made their own tetragonal magic; ambitious doomsters could do far worse than lumber in those deep footprints.

Is _Netherwards_ more worthy of your IRS leftovers than the other casks of boiling molasses that stain Bandcamp pages and record store shelves? Who cares? The visceral thrill of living inside all those grueling moments condemns all comparisons as unwelcome and unnecessary. Anhedonist wallow in clouds of poisonous vapor so thick as to deaden all awareness of the world beyond. Enter the mist. Don't plan to leave.


(article published 3/6/2012)

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