Anhedonia can be defined as the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable. So it is not without a sense of irony that a band whose moniker suggests a lack of enjoyment would create an album so enjoyable. Yet that is precisely what Seattle, Washington's Anhedonist have done with Netherwards. That is of course, if you can find something enjoyable in music this depressing.
Whether unfolding at an evolutionary pace, rolling like a severed head away from the chopping block, or chasing down quarry from horseback, Netherwards is soaked in the sweat pooling on the floor from the walls of a dismal dungeon. The blackened shrieks and unearthly growls of guitarist/vocalist V.B. anchor the album to the sinister side of the psyche. Joined by guitarist K.H. and bassist D.F., the trio weaves a blanket of despair across the album's four tracks. Whether pointed or thundering, drummer Z.S. builds the foundation upon which the crushing filth of Netherwards is built.
The listener is subjected to a bevy of the darkest of emotions. The haunting aura of the album is cloaked in a fog of negativity. The listener's soul is torn asunder by the fear and anguish wrought forth over the course of the album's merciless 41 minute playing time. Much longer could prove unbearable for those not as seasoned as myself in this breed of blackened doom. Netherwards is the kind of album that takes root inside the body. There is no superficiality to be found within Anhedonist. This is music fed by the ugliness of humanity. It is meant to penetrate deep into the mind and saps the listener of satisfying serotonin.
Anhedonist may not rob music of its ability to please, but they certainly do not project any feelings of joy or happiness. Netherwards exists in the cold, dark recesses of doom and gloom where no light may reach. It is in these lightless environs that the album is best enjoyed. The full value of Netherwards would be left unfulfilled on a sandy beach or a walk in the park. Nay, to be fully disaffected by the most all-encompassing of art forms, the album beckons for a listening environment lit only by the blood red candles dripping wax over yellowed skulls. Multiple listens are essential for experiencing the full measure of the grimness contained within the bowels of Netherwards. Sink into your lair and release yourself to its vibrations.
Netherwards is available now from Dark Descent Records.