If you have been following Anaal Nathrakh since their demo days and in more recent years putting yourself through the gruelling assault course of their live shows on a yearly basis you should know a few things. Firstly where their name actually derives from, how to pronounce and be able to spell it without batting an eyelid or using copy and paste and more essentially awareness that this is one group that is not going to get mellow with age. Mick Kenney and Dave Hunt have been essential listening for those into extreme music since they first shat out debut album The Codex Necro in 2001, they are the driving duo behind the recorded output though expanding things with other like-minded filth in the live arena and have dragged us kicking and screaming through nine albums to date, each and every one of them as deadly as the last. Spinning ‘The Whole Of The Law’ for the first time prepared for rabid satanic musical doctrines, my head did both expand and pretty much explode and the first thought that came to me was “fuck are they actually getting faster!” It would seem so, music for wimps this is not and even listening on your own is dangerous and can result in all manner of injuries.
Intro piece ‘The Nameless Dread’ sounds like an out of control fighter plane in WWII about to crash land, sinister voices forewarn the coming apocalypse and then the juggernaut riffs brood in and with opener ‘Depravity Favours The Bold’ symphonically expand and explode delivering maximum payload. Vocals sound processed and alien snarling away before the first harmonic croons ride over the top of them. There is a real Emperor feel to the underlying strident keyboard work which helps drive the unrelenting panic through it all and despite the ferocity the melody is tight and controlled. On further listens it becomes clear that although blazing their way through things the devastating duo manage to add something unique to each and every heaving mass of a song. They all have distinct nuances to listen out for whilst ripping off your head and shitting down your neck. Take for instance the bouncing gabba blasts on the excellently entitled ‘Hold Your Children Close and Pray For Oblivion.’ It’s a totally effective trick and as they use it in just the one track all the more so for it.
Apart from those crooning and harmonic vocals there’s no mercy or let up here at all. It’s like that zombie apocalypse you have been awaiting for has at last arrived and you realise that you have no chance to survive and actually enjoy it (just me then) as they are all fast running buggers going full pelt at you leaving absolutely no chance to survive. The electronic backbone and sinister riffs of ‘We Will Fucking Kill You (thanks to the label for pointing out this one may contain profanities) throw you all around the place and although there is a bit of a let up in the BPM delivery proves just as vicious, even if they do find time to throw a precise guitar solo into the heaving mass. What’s the fastest song you may want to know especially if you are of that MP3 generation who likes to randomly dip in and out of an album (shame on you)? Well ‘…So We Can Die Happy’ is certainly a contender, snarling, biting and hacking away hell for leather and no doubt causing utter carnage next time a round of dates come up.
The weird thing is I found this album instantly accessible and got to grips with it almost straight away, something that anyone not listening to this type of music will no doubt find stupefying. Going through it now I have noticed that there is a good pacing in the albums construction, although not slow by any means, the grandiose soaring vocals of a song such as ‘In Flagrante Delicto’ offer a slight respite before the all-out assault of the entirely punishing ‘And You Will Beg For Our Secrets.’ There’s serious manic depravity behind the wild cackles and gibbering vocals of ‘To Be A Slave’ personally it sounds like the door should be locked and the key thrown away but if we are talking of putting in the gladiatorial arena the victor is a forgone conclusion. The triumphant swaggering battle croons over the top just enforce the whole sense of jubilation. There’s no running out of steam before the end in fact last number ‘Of Horror And The Black Shores’ proves particularly interesting incorporating classic elements into the underlying song structure including soaring choral work which is a magnificent contrast from the bruising main song.
The digital version I was sent includes two very cool and different covers at the end, both of which if played to many of the groups respective fan-bases will probably have them running for shelter. Iron Maiden’s Powerslave and the previously released on flexi single Specials classic Man At C&A take standard heavy metal and two tone into unexpected territories and are great additions to an excellent album.
Do what thou wilt, but listen to Anaal Nathrakh!
(8.5/10 Pete Woods)