THE PAST IS ALIVE: 20 Years of ‘Drudenhaus’, by ANOREXIA NERVOSA

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By Ivan Gossage

(Order ov the Black Arts)

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I’ll cut to the chase: the black metal community approaches the 20th anniversary of one of the most ambitious, subversive and savage symphonic black metal albums to ever see the light of day. 

After a brief experimental death metal upbringing and an abrupt left turn towards heavily orchestrated black metal with the good but tentative Sodomizing The Archedangel EP in 1999, French black metal deviants ANOREXIA NERVOSA released the incinerating, carnal masterwork Drudenhaus on April 1st, 2000. Black metal has never heard anything quite like it then or since, despite preexisting works by comparable pillars such as EMPEROR, LIMBONIC ART, CRADLE OF FILTH, DIMMU BORGIR and the explosion of Symphonic Black Metal acts appearing in the last 20 years. 

Nuanced differences aside, one can immediately discern what distinguishes Drudenhaus, and even what sets it apart from subsequent fantastic ANOREXIA NERVOSA releases New Obscurantis Order (2001) and Redemption Process (2004): the absolute unrestrained fury of the orchestration, which instead of providing an underlying atmosphere or melodic support to the other instruments (which is what the S in SBM is doing 99% of the time) is right out in front, the bombastic spear tip of an album that sits at the apex of SBM aggression. Although this element is present in every track, listen to the opening of the second and title track ‘The Drudenhaus Anthem’ to hear the reference… the symphonic element drives the song, orchestrated notes are unleashed with such speed and ferocity they would be more readily recognized for how assaultive they truly are if it weren’t for their incredible, powerful beauty; aristocratic and haughty, yet often tragic in their melody.

Appropriately, this description applies to not just the keys, but to every aspect on display in Drudenhaus. Raging, lashing guitar riffs and roaring bass create a wall of fire, an unchaste inferno which scorches everything in its path (probably something holy, if the album cover is any indication), as torrential percussion blasts hallowed walls asunder with overt sin. Drudenhaus’ vocals are scathing, frantic, unhinged, and lascivious, almost flamboyant in their scorn; the lyrics narrate hymns of hatred, violence, fire, sex, flesh, perversion, blood, torture, madness and death, all wrapped up in themes of seditious pseudo-religiosity. 

On the anniversary of this burning and audacious orchestrated black metal pinnacle, go back and listen to Drudenhaus. Really listen to it. And then find me another black metal band that does it this way, I challenge you. I’ve been searching for two decades.

Drudenhaus is available now via Osmose Productions.

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Purchase Drudenhaus on CD, black LP, and clear with yellow/orange splatter LP from the Osmose Productions webstore HERE, or on CD and digital from Bandcamp HERE.

Support ANOREXIA NERVOSA:

  • No internet presence.

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