Anaal Nathrakh (named after the Charm Of Making spell in the 80's movie 'Excalibur') are back with a new album, and if past efforts are anything to go by, it'll be extremely harsh, abrasive and satisfying. Fusing the best parts of Black Metal, Death Metal, Grindcore and Industrial into one sonic melting-pot of extremity, they've been going for quite a while now, since 1998. Not bad for a primarily studio-based project, although some live shows have occurred over the years. Hailing from Birmingham, UK (just in case you get confused with Birmingham, Alabama), they join the likes of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Napalm Death and Duran Duran as being examples of brilliant bands from Birmingham.
This is their ninth studio album and I'm guessing is named after a famous quote from Satanist junkie and sex maniac Alistair Crowley - 'Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law'. I never really rated the guy as it seemed there wasn't much to him other than a nice line in patter, and even then it was more about shagging and snorting anything in front of him, sort of like an early 20th century version of Russell Brand but not as much of a cunt. Still, each to their own. We are here to listen to some music - if you can call it that, and I mean that in the nicest possible terms, but Anaal Nathrakh albums generally sound harsh as fuck. It's been a good year for my old favourites so here is hoping this keeps that particular momentum going. This blog may or may not follow the regular format, I'll have to play it by ear.
1) The Nameless Dread - it's a minute long keyboard/noise thing. Whispered vocals in the background, reminds me of something from (90's video game) Nightmare Creatures. Guitars kick in and already we can hear the famed Anaal Nathrakh tension...
2) Depravity Favours The Bold - The first song proper, it comes hurtling at you with a scream that sounds like a parrot getting fucked off a sandpaper dildo. Operatic vocals/keyboard effects in the background. Alterrnating between fast and mid-paced, it's an excellet song. Vocals alernating between ear-splitting screams and clean, almost opera-like vocals. It's a trick as old as the hills but at least it sounds good here and not tacked on in the name of tokenism.
3) Hold Your Children Close And Pray For Oblivion - May as well, seeing as we're headed for war with the Reds, if the papers are to be believed. This one contains a fucking GABBA drum section! The type of Gabba drum section where the drum is so processed and clipped, it practically is a musical note in it's own right. I'm pretty sure they did the same trick with 2012 release Vanitas (for me, their best album). I love it as I'm also a fan of Gabber too - when it's done properly though. Got to be the hard stuff, none of this ethereal keyboards and sped-up song samples shite for me,,,
4) We Will Fucking Kill You - Very cheery song title. Matches the music within which is extremely heavy without being 1000mph. Kind of a galloping rhythm to it. Nice electronic touches too. Almost Iron Maiden-like guitar melodies - speaking of which, we'll get to them later...Nice sample/keyboard interlude in the middle too.
5) So We Can Die Happy - Basically follows the same format of the other songs, tears you a new one with some awesome guitar work and mad drum patterns. There are only two members of the band, one does the vocals and the other does all guitars, bass, programming etc. This is a good song. Ends with a distorted childrens choir singing what sounds like a nursery rhyme.
6) In Fragrante Delicto - Electronic ear-candy opening before stuttering guitar and more ear-candy leads into standard harshness in all areas.
7) And You Will Beg For Our Secrets - Like a toddler having a hissy-fit in a wall of white noise, this one rushes right at you, demanding your attention. Some nice keyboards producing a choir-effect in this. Certainly adds contrast to the heavy guitars.
8 ) Extravaganza - Non-depressing song title? Ermagherd! Pulsing electronics and mental opening are the order of the day. Some nice guitar riffs in there too. Quite a snappy riff, in fact. The clean vocals on this are more tortured sounding than usual, which is nice. At one point, they reminded me of The Cure front-man Robert Smith in his more depressing, overwrought moments. Nice one!
9) On Being A Slave - Guitar feedback FX with electronically doctored vocal effects are the order of the day before launching into the patent Anaal Nathrakh style of ripping you god-damned face off with the heaviness. THE HEAVINESS!!! This is another great song and no mistake.
10) The Great Spectator - More electronics amid the usual madness of the guitars and stuff. This one isn't too bad but after coming off the back of the last song, is kind of stuck in it's shadow.
11) Of Horror, And The Black Shawls - Song title sounds like Cradle Of Filth before they decided to update their sound (IE, go a bit commercial), which is fine but they were always better then doing the proper heavy stuff. No such fear here of things like that happening, this song is taking us to the end of the album in a sea of madness and pain. Better than the last sing, which is nice. Great keyboards and guitar too. Change of pace towards the end where it slows down...
One of the bonus tracks is a cover of the Iron Maiden song 'Powerslave' and it rules on so many levels!
All in all, that was a really good album. Only gripe is that it was a bit samey and that it sounds pretty much like the other Anaal Nathrakh albums as well. Mind, if you're a fan then that's more than likely what you're going to want, so why worry? Both newbies and long-time fans should enjoy this.
7/10 - This is good and well worth a check.
Top Track: On Being A Slave.
Oddly, only two of the songs are on Spotify (here and here) but the album is available on iTunes (which is where I got my copy).
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