1 November 2014

Anaal Nathrakh - Desideratum

For an act that was once seen as a side project, this group has been going for ages now.  Anaal Nathrakh are held in a state of awe with some sections of the metal community, in other sections they are ridiculed and seen as an off-shoot of the same sort of scene that gave us Mistress, Murder One and other acts from the late 90's/early 00's.  Formed in 1998 (around the same time as Mistress if memory serves me right), Anaal Nathrakh were to be a pure Black Metal project, but over the years they have added more styles to their musical template, such as Grindcore & Industrial Metal.  I remember seeing them at the Damnation Festival in 2007, well I say remember - it is a little fuzzy after the amount of Jager consumed, but the next day my body was broken and I could not walk properly for two weeks.  But since then, I have lost touch with what they have been up to; I was actually surprised they were still together.  Not that it is a bad thing, just one of those things that happen when you have some many bands in the world.  So, it is now time to see what has changed after all these years....

Opening track "Acheronta Movebimus" starts off with a slow pulsing beat, the sounds of the soulless being punished, the noise rising; then the riff starts in the swirling vortex of the noise.  Mixed in is an industrial sound that compliments the massive (and I mean fucking enormous) riff that sounds like a hammer breaking open the shell of the earth.  But there are a few sounds which have that grime/dubstep tone that was used by Morbid Angel for their last album.  For me, this is not a problem - as stated in my review of 'Illud Divinum Insanus' (cleverly linked here) I made a case for it being a brave direction for the band.  The same can be said here for Anaal Nathrakh, they have started the album with something a little different for me.  The song merges into "Unleashed", which starts off as traditional as Anaal Nathrakh can get; a massive death scream over some evil noise that will have some people piss their pants; but then it goes for a clean vocal which totally caught me off guard upon my first listen to the song.  What confused me more was when it started to approach Dragon Force territory mixed in with the modern industrial overtones; somehow it works, for the life of me it works.  Following on is "Monstrum In Animo" which is a more straight forward grindcore affair, but with a black metal flair for the dramatic mixed into the proceeding you have an aggressive and it has a very Germanic sound in places.  It smashes into the skull over and over, like the boot mentioned in the George Orwell book - 1984.

Fourth track "The One Thing Needful" which keeps up the cross-genre feel of the album, the pace has not been less than manic throughout the album and it is much the same on this album.  Once again they use the clean vocals, it still throws me a little each time I hear something that does not sound like it is coming from the bowels of hell; but somehow it does not feel as if they are playing the song at a million miles an hour to get as many notes into the song to show off, they know when to drop the riff down a notch to elevate the song.  "A Firm Foundation Of Unyielding Despair" starts off with a Nine Inc... no that was just a bait and switch.  Industrial drums begin the track, before it turns into a grindcore/black metal nightmare.  From that beginning, they just go straight for the jugular with a sledgehammer of noise; there is a brief divergence back into the industrial sound and it is to the benefit of the number.  After this the title track of the album, this is much more in the industrial/grindcore spectrum of Anaal Nathrakh's musical, the charm of being attacked for so long shows no sign of diminishing and when the music is of this high a quality - why should it?  I think at this point of the album, you know what you are getting and the band keep delivering; I know I keep going on about it, but there is another clear vocal piece in this number and it still throws me.  But not in a - what is this shit way - but in a - that was different - type of way.  It adds to the number and does not detract from the music.  Following on is "Idol" and the pace seems to quicken dramatically.  This is one of my favourite numbers of the album, just all out noise and crazy ass screaming! You get the mixture of the clean vocals and screams, the riffs that could be for any genre you would care to mention in metal and a fantastic solo. 

"Sub Specie Aeteni (Of Maggots And Humanity)" is the first song which does not really impress; it has been done better by the same band before (and by other bands since).  It just doesn't quite deliver that power of the beginning section of the album, granted I am not expecting them to bring out a prog-esque epic but that song is by the numbers.  "The Joystream" is a lot better, taking it down a notch with a much more measured attack.  Sometimes less is more and this track is one of the more basic tracks on offer; that said the Dragonforce style chorus is not totally to my tastes on this one.  "Rage And Red" is the penultimate track of the album, the manic pace of the album is starting to take its toll on the band and listener at this point.  The force that has been delivered throughout the album is of a high quality, this song makes a case for being song of the album (and wins to be honest) due to way it mixes all the styles of the band into an aggressive and brutal nutshell.  Ending the album is "Ita Mori" which does exactly what the rest of this album has done; attacks the listener with a tsunami of riffs, drums, scream and a cacophony of musical styles that Anaal Nathrakh have to offer the world.

Now we are done listening to the album, what is the rub?  Well, since I last heard Anaal Nathrakh they have gone from strength to strength; the album places out mostly how I expected if I am honest with only a few surprises.  The biggest distraction was when the band started to add those clear vocals and turned the music into Dragonforce; it does work in places, but it was used an awful lot throughout the album.  There is a very repetitive nature to the record as well, not that you expect every tune to be a new piece in these genres.  But there is a couple of numbers which would be as hard to distinguish as pea in a pod, but as stated that is part of the course with this type of music.  Overall, it is good and for fans of the band it will be well received; they have not done a Morbid Angel and released a game changer, but still a decent album.

7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - Rage And Red

You can purchase the album off Amazon here

You can follow Anaal Nathrakh's activates on Facebook here

You can visit the official Anaal Nathrakh webstore here

You can visit the band page on Metal Blade (the band's current label) here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is a link to hear the album on Deezer if you use this platform

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