Chicago’s one-man black metal project Annihilus presents a captivating whirlpool of mournful raw black metal on their debut full-length record Ghanima, which is available now via American Dreams Records.
Annihilus sounds like they’ve ventured out into a bone-chilling snowstorm in which snow spreads across the entire line of sight, as frigid and shrieking wind rushes through the surroundings. There’s not really any light here. Instead, there’s an apocalyptic depth to the raw intensity, as if there’s little chance of making it back to any kind of shelter in time to escape the harshest effects of that formidable shiver-inducing onslaught. A raw, lo-fi thickness spreads throughout the album like a blanket of that snow, trapping the listener in its contorted and shifting soundscapes like the snowstorm itself has somehow come to life and has nefarious intent towards those trapped within.
The dramatic and sometimes dirge-like melodies that course through Ghanima deliver this sense of an ominous personification of the malaise. The listening experience feels psychologically disorienting, and with the dynamics that make an appearance across the album, Annihilus sounds like they’ve captured a musical reflection of a psychological experience of terror of the unknown. In an environment with low visibility, whether or not that’s a literal snowstorm or something not quite at that level, gnawing dread might creep in because of the uncertainty of what might lurk just out of sight. The rich, earthy dynamics across Ghanima capture this sense of dread, elevating the listening experience beyond merely a treacherous trek into one in which even supernatural beings might be ready to pounce. (When trapped, minds can imagine quite grandiose terrors.)
The lo-fi element of Ghanima makes the trodding record feel a bit hardcore-adjacent, like it packs a true physical wallop rather than sticking to psychology. Across the entire record, the menacing, hoarse riffing feels soaked in venom, the drum hits sound like a march for an army of the dead, and the hoarsely shrieked vocals top off the mix with grueling tension. The intimidating, swinging riffing across “A Moon Kills” feel melody-centered enough, while maintaining their psychological power, to seem heavy metal-adjacent, like the product of a sludge metal band playing while thick snow falls. Other moments, like the tracks “Destroy the Future” and “Wormsong,” lean into that restrained, mournful tone.
Listening to Ghanima feels like watching a horror movie, but it’s real. It’s a psychological experience of confronting dread and standing back in terror as reality proves to be beyond our wildest fears.
Listen to Ghanima below: