Anaal Nathrakh's latest release: Grinding assault, but also ear candy
Anaal Nathrakh is a group which, throughout its career, has never really changed its sound too much. Their song structures and riffing style have relatively stayed the same -- though not to the point of being where one can't tell which song is which because they all sound exactly the same, much like it is with most of today's popular music and even a lot of rock and metal bands. And yet, their sound, which can best be described as a well-balanced mix of grindcore, industrial metal, black metal and death metal, combined with symphonic and ambient elements, has always seemed to somehow change.
To put a specific label to describe the sound of the British duo, aside from "extreme metal", would be rather difficult -- though a viable term could be "industrial blackened" death metal.
Focusing on themes such as the horrors of WWI and the letters of D.H. Lawrence, the record is truly able to trigger a certain amount of trepidation. Descending with a bunch of downtuned and extremely heavy riffs, mechanical blast beats and an audio book of demonic vocals with a flair of melody, the duo of Mick Kenney and Dave Hunt have yet again created an album which can best be described as sheer and utter chaos, madness and destruction.
Atmospherically extremely bleak, there is nothing happy and uplifting about this album. This is just blood running through the streets, gore and mayhem, screams of despair, the murder of families, an apocalyptic nightmare. The cacophony of pure grating insanity might be the most appropriate way to describe the sonic picture this album creates.
The tracks "Forward", "New Bethlehem/Mass Death Futures", "The Apocalypse Is About You" and "Vi Coactus" are probably the best. While they stand as a testament to the group's musical intensity, they also display the more melodic aspects of their music which is what prevents their records from becoming what would otherwise be just plain noise.
Multi-instrumentalist Kenney gives us some very devastating riffs and his chaotic and spooky atmospheric arrangements are bone-chilling, while Hunt's vocals are particularly praiseworthy, for he is able to pull off some of the most intense screaming in metal such as in "The Apocalypse Is About You" and the closing track, "Are We Fit for Glory Yet? The War To End Of Nothing". The high-pitched King Diamond-like vocals displayed in tracks such as "Reek Of Fear" speaks volumes of Hunt's ability as a vocalist.
Going with Anaal Nakhrath's style, the production, while not fully, is very much industrial inspired. Speaking purely in terms of music production, the American industrial metal band Fear Factory comes to mind in the sense it is very open and yet every note feels very tight. However, arrangement-wise there is also a hard rawness to this record which typically only black metal has. Musically, aside from the drumming and some of the fuzzy sounds reminiscent of industrial music, they don't have a whole lot in common with Fear Factory.
It is no exaggeration, none whatsoever, to call this album the sound of chaos incarnate, for, as mentioned before, it is really just pure grinding and a brutal assault on the ears and your overall senses. So, don't go expecting anything too easily digestible, though to any person who likes extreme metal or just metal with brutal riffs and intense demonic screams, this album is just simply ear candy.
(Anand Venkitachalam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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