Released: 2013, Wolfshade Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Belgium may be best known for its cobblestones and chocolate, but if you delve a little deeper, hidden between the cracks are examples of vile black metal seeping through. Standing alongside bands such as MARCHE FUNEBRE, HERFST and SAILLE is THE NIGHTSTALKER, a one-man project by Steve ‘serpent’ Fabry centered round an angel and its search to find a place in a foreign world. Similar to Fabry’s other project, SERCATI that writes about the journey of the angel, THE NIGHTSTALKER focuses on the personal feelings of the angel and the universe that surrounds him.
It may have been almost twenty years now since black metal’s bloodstained birth and in that time it has grown into an expansive genre, touching new ground with every year that passes. With this evolution also comes nostalgic bands desperately recapturing the sound of the past. While NIGHTSTALKER’s Against the Anesthetist has obvious basis in these founding bands, calling up BURZUM’s repetitive riffs, there are vast swathes of this album that are also distinctly non-metal. Long arching piano melodies or acoustic intros make this album hard to place, and while it is usually obvious which side most albums lie on, this album refuses to identify its stance in either category. It is pure and simply uninterested in its genre identity. Against the Anesthetist comes without the benefits of good production quality, which for black metal perhaps may seem less of an issue, but it also comes without the benefits of bad production quality. There is no mass of distortion or background fuzz to fill the gaps; it’s almost aptly clinical in its delivery. Hints of brilliance shine through, particularly on the organ parts in songs like ‘Questions’ and ‘Against the Anesthetist,’ but like the lost and wandering angel of the album, many of the instruments sound lost in a space they can’t fill, and because of this, this album never sees anything like the kind of potential it could have.
Black metal is a genre that should never be done in halves, and whatever way you cut the genre, it’s blindingly intense in its attitude and delivery. Because of this, repetition has worked for many bands in the past, but this album is thirty-eight minutes of virtually identical riffs topped off with mediocre production. Atmospheric music should run chills up the spine of even the most hardened metal fan, but this album evoked no emotion, no spiritual awakening; it is pure and simple background music.
Review by Caitlin Smith