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Great Debut Release - 95%

Lil11, June 17th, 2009

In an album that is charged with ambiguity and individuality, Swedish black metal project, Anhedonia revives the more traditional sounds of a genre that seems to be constantly evolving. While most Scandinavian black metal bands are heavily compared (and contrasted) with their predecessors, Anhedonia’s material is uniquely different. Recognised for its raw sound, occult-riddled themes and often eerie vocal accompaniment, Anhedonia avoids the generic conventions of black metal and stems into an innovative and new musical soundscape.

Moving through a series of abstract compositions Der Schrei der Natur is a truly engaging album that not only explores the darker, more provocative sides of music but does so with faultless consistency. Produced, written and performed by the projects only member, Alloces, the musicianship expressed in this debut album is hugely enjoyable. Musically, the album ranges through moments of minimalism and technicality meaning the album never becomes flat or simplistic.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the album is the vocals – initially the listener would probably be puzzled at the unusually low volume attributed to them throughout the songs. And because they are hugely indecipherable and the booklet contains no lyrics, the vocals become just another ambiguous aspect of the accompanying music. While many people enjoy being able to understand the artists intended messages within a song, I find the lack of lyrics and the minimal volume given to the vocals hugely commendable. Instead of listeners merely reading what is being sung, they are encouraged to interpret the song in their own manner placing their own thoughts, feelings and biases into the music. Ambiguity is not something many artists take the time to incorporate into their music and, despite the simplicity of such an idea; it is a strangely refreshing way to listen to an album.

Some of the most notable tracks on the album include Höstkänslor, Dies Irae and Nattvardsgästerna which have a combined duration of just under 30 minutes. Starting with a prolonged shriek, Dies Irae is arguably the most ‘evil’ sounding track, combining a wealth of double bass kicks and eerie, echoed vocals the track is an eccentric mix of sounds and rhythm. Not hugely technical, the song uses a surreal simplicity to hook in its listener – most notably through the choice of vocals. Ranging from one extreme to the other, the vocals become the central instrument in this song and are (naturally) manipulated so an engaging continuity can exist as the song progresses.

Another highly impressionable song (and my personal favourite on the album) is Nattvardsgästerna. While this track is also driven by the diversity of the vocals, it is the drumming that not only stands out, but proves to be the best thing about the track. Fading in with the sound of blast beats, Nattvardsgästerna cascades into a slow, repetitive guitar riff that changes as smoothly as it began. Ending with the sound of blast beats and nothing more, the song proves to be perfectly situated towards the end of the album’s track list. Like the end of a dramatic film, the track list is just as important as the music itself with the concluding track gently sealing off the mood of the album. Finishing, most appropriately, with the echoing sounds of tenors and baritones, Der Shrei Der Natur excels in maintaining both its musically eerie tone and its lyrical ambiguity.