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I will preface this review with a bit of information on the band, as I plan on reviewing all of their albums in anticipation of the new record, The Whole of the Law. I would like this to be my jumping off point for analyzing the band and why I would even bother taking a look at albums from 10-15 years ago, as well as giving a possible beginner a quick guide to the world of Anaal Nathrakh.
Now for the quick recap. Should you be experienced in Nathrakh, you may want to skip to the next paragraph. Anaal Nathrakh is a 2 piece band from England, with Mick Kenney AKA Irrumator handling all instruments, and Dave Hunt AKA Vitriol handling all lyrics and vocals. The band does not publish lyrics. As far as genre, they have at one point included all aspects of extreme music, including death metal, doom, punk, industrial, grind, and black metal. This mix of genres, coupled with the band's apocalyptic world-view and end-times atmosphere, is the reason why I have so heavily studied this band for so long and why I am bothering to give a bit of foreshadowing to what you will experience listening to this for the first time. The casual fan will likely take offense to at least one album in this discography however, being that each album has its own well-defined musical theme.
The Codex Necro of course is where it all began, following a few demos. The music is primarily black metal with industrial over-tones, filthy guitars and plenty of distortion all around. Vitriol is definitely one of the most talented and versatile metal vocalists that has ever recorded a note. This album does not yet show his full range, but he gives all sorts of shrieks and wails with a natural distortion to his voice, although there is plenty added too. I will do plenty of fellating about all things Dave Hunt in future reviews, but this album belongs to Mick Kenney for me. The instrumentals here are still the most venomous and caustic they've ever been, absolutely devastating in every way. The songwriting will grow a great amount in the near future, but this is as pure and as raw as extreme metal gets. My favorite song on the album and one of their best to date is When Humanity is Cancer with its slower and catchy as all fuck riff kicking off the madness. It seems kind of cliche to say every song is great, but there are very few albums of theirs that contain even one or two songs worth skipping, so I will just say the first 6 songs and slightly better than the others. Definitely give The Technogoat special attention as it might be their single-most extreme song.
If you are in fact new to Anaal Nathrakh, this might not be the best album to start with, being so extreme and solitary in their discography. There are many tropes here that never to this day get repeated, but that also makes this album a bit of a pariah for me, in a great way. I would recommend starting with In the Constellation, my personal favorite, and maybe listening to The Codex Necro 4th or 5th once you get the feel of what the band has become. Definitely buy this if you like any sort of extreme music, especially black and grind, although it is my opinion you should all buy all of their albums, so there you have it. Classic album that is a highlight and benchmark for what it means to be extreme and chaotic.
By the time Anaal Nathrakh released "Codex Necro" they already had a following of their own within the British black metal underground, having released two demos which showcased their dramatically unique approach to a genre that was becoming better known, accepted and commercially viable. Anaal Nathrakh rejected said bullshit and opted to an even harsher sound, mixing industrial elements, programmed drums and some seriously high distortion both in vocals and in guitars, all neatly packed in a general industrialized apocalyptic feeling, and thus, Codex Necro was born.
Make no mistake, if you're looking for "grim and frostbitten black metal" look somewhere else, as The Codex Necro has none of it, it is pure undiluted hate and rage against a fucked up world filled with fucked up people, it is the soundtrack to armageddon and genocide, The Codex Necro doesn't seek to call upon you a gloomy atmosphere of desolated forests and fog but the atmosphere of a burning, decaying city being constantly hit by death and war, and it does really well at doing so.
This album kicks off with an industrial noise slowly building up in the background, after a couple of seconds of said noise growing louder and louder, the drums and guitars finally kick in at full force, drums blasting and guitars shredding together to create a loud wall of caustic noise punishing your eardrums. After a few seconds, V.I.T.R.I.O.L starts screaming his lungs out in his signature way, a highly-distorted, raspy, throat-ripping shriek full of hate and rage, with the "intro" noise coming back again only to fade away for a second time, all while the drums and guitars continue to punish you into submission. After a while, a solo from Irrumator kicks in, adding up even more to the hateful atmosphere that Anaal Nathrakh is seeking to create, the assault continues and finally Irrumator comes again with another solo to finally pack things up, the song slows down a bit and then throws at you one final flurry of savagery; coupled now by random screams by Hunt.
Congratulations, you have managed to listen through the hellish punishing that is A Supreme Necrotic Audnance, and this is far from over...
I would write about every single song in this album as all of them have something in them that makes them special, either a solo, a riff or merely the relentless fury and speed, all of the songs are memorable in one way or another, The Codex Necro has a sound of it's own, it does not imitate any other band's efforts but instead it creates a whole new sound of it's own, a new style of black metal that disregards all of the "norms" within black metal, yes, it has programmed drums and it doesn't seeks to hide it or make it less obvious, Anaal Nathrakh entered the studio with a solid idea of what they wanted to do and did it to perfection.
Not many people can sit through this album, you'll either love it or hate it with no inbetween, but there is no doubts that THIS album is definitely a must-listen for fans of black metal, particularly for those who like their black metal fast, raw and punishing. It's been over 13 years since Anaal Nathrakh opened the pages of the Codex Necro, 13 years since this beast was unleashed to the world, and so far no other band has managed to replicate or succesfully imitate what was accomplished with this recording, not even the band themselves.
Yes, I recognize that the term "Hell's house band" may be a bit goofy, but there is really no other accurate way to describe the complete and utter musical annihilation brought forth by the U.K.'s Anaal Nathrakh, aside from perhaps "the soundtrack to Armageddon". Ever since making themselves known at the turn of the century, the duo of Mick Kenney and Benediction growler Dave Hunt have made themselves known as the reigning kings of chaos in extreme metal. In the overall grand scheme of black metal, the band may not be considered as "true" as some others due to their genre mixing, especially since their later records tend to incorporate some metalcore elements due to Irrumator's love of the style, but I believe a seasoned extreme metal listener would take the psychopathy of Anaal Nathrakh over any homebrew basement band any moment of the millennium. The Codex Necro, their first full length release, embodies that deranged spirit just as much as any later record of theirs, while still being both primitive in the grander spectrum of the band's discography and unique in its own way by being perhaps the most deranged ambient black metal record possible.
Now before you get all shouty at me for calling The Codex Necro an ambient black metal album, I shall explain my reasoning for such a descriptive term. When one thinks of ambient black metal, first thoughts usually jump to the earlier works of Burzum (that is to say Varg's 90s offerings such as Hvis lyset tar oss or Filosefem) or a modern group such as Walknut with their fantastic Graveforests and Their Shadows. Those albums feature a brand of black metal done in somewhat of a droning style, with many flowing chords and longer song lengths, thus drawing out the atmosphere the records produce. In the case of The Codex Necro, imagine that this environmental aura was not a deep forest or an icy mountaintop devoid of all life, but the bowels of the Underworld itself. Imagine yourself inside of a dirty, nearly lightless torture dungeon, where you are chained to the wall and screaming with every fiber of your being for someone to come and rescue you. Then a large hooded man walks into the room and begins subjecting you to brutal, unspeakable acts of dereliction and defamation. That is the atmosphere Anaal Nathrakh have created with this record. As opposed to their later albums which feel more as if the world is coming to an absolute end all around you, their debut effort feels a bit more personal, where the destruction is happening to only one person and not every person. The cover art gets this feeling across perfectly, featuring a poor soul's final moments from suffocation, as well as through various samples placed throughout the record of people screaming in agony and despair. Musically, in keeping with the ambient feel and tone, the record is considerably slower tempo wise than what the band would later create. While every song is still pretty damn fast, the only consistently complete barnstormers here would be "Pandemonic Hyperblast", "The Technogoat", "Human, All Too Fucking Human", and the record's title track, all four displaying the blisteringly fast speeds that the band would later make a mainstay of their music. The band's experimental nature is also shown at times here, such as the techno-styled drum break in "Paradigm Shift - Annihilation". The style mixing of the band's later works is considerably less noticeable here; while there are elements of death metal and grindcore sprinkled about the record's 46 minutes (the former style best displayed through the beginning of "Human, All Too Fucking Human), The Codex Necro is black metal through and through.
When it comes to performances, the talents of both Irrumator and V.I.T.R.I.O.L. are on full display and they do not back down for a second. Taking the instrumental helm for every aspect of the actual music, Irrumator is as tight as one possibly can be, performing the guitars, bass, and drums with flawless precision and spot on accuracy. V.I.T.R.I.O.L.'s shrieking, howling, and downright fucking scary vocals also do not relent for even a picosecond. His out of this dimension screaming perfectly replicates the sounds of the previously mentioned Hell-dwelling torture chamber, and will do no less than draw the listener into this magnificently screwed up world the band has created. In addition to performing every instrument, Irrumator also took it upon himself to perform the production, mixing, and mastering duties for The Codex Necro, and the sound he has crafted for this record is nothing short of amazing. It's loud, yes, but it fits the chaotic style of the music. It's a bit muddy, but that also perfectly compliments the music's filthiness. Everything is audible and discernible in the mix, making for an intense wall of sound that rivals any Devin Townsend record. Lyrically there is nothing that really can be said, as the band chose not to publish Dave Hunt's words. I can only imagine they are as completely insane as the music, and judging from the few lyrics of Anaal Nathrakh's that have managed to see the light of day, they probably are. At least the band has yet to pull a Gorgoroth and try to sue those that figure out the lyrics.
In the grand spectrum of extreme metal, from the early forefathers of Venom, Celtic Frost, Possessed, and Slayer, to the middle era masterpieces from bands like Death, Morbid Angel, Mayhem, and Emperor, to the current crop of carnivorous creators such as Lago, Sulpher Aeon, Aborted, and Behemoth, no one can match the intensity, insanity, and sheer terrifying nature of Anaal Nathrakh. The Codex Necro, while not encompassing the all around apocalyptic nature of the band's future works, is a practically flawless musical display of total carnage on the human level, and even though their later works would improve on the formula of "beat the listener's face in with a disease-infected hammer until half their skull has been liquified", The Codex Necro still remains nearly a decade-and-a-half later a seminal work in not just black metal, but in extreme metal as a whole. It may not be as refined or polished as a record like Hell is Empty... or Passion, but for what it is, The Codex Necro is a perfect extreme metal album.
Brutal. Menacing. Brooding. A nuclear bomb hitting a desolate wasteland of black metal. A tsunami of noise and obivion assaulting the barren desert of grindcore. The horn summoning a revitalized form of blasphemy and misanthropy to shed its bleak rain of corrosive poisons upon humanity. This is what Anaal Nathrakh's inaugural opus of annihilation has spurred: a creature fed with pure hatred towards everything breathing.
Musically, Anaal Nathrakh's Mick Kenney doesn't disappoint; a veil of noise covering the brutal shredding and riffing of his nihilistic guitar-work, that manages to regurgitate extreme aural assaults, capable of destroying everything within its reach. I would assume that the drumming here is real, although it's pretty goddamn fast; too fast actually. But that's OK, considering that the drums only add to the magnificent aura of gloomy and dreary atmosphere that the very essence of this album's existence creates. The bass here is more felt than heard, though, but I don't mind that at all; considering this album should invoke a feeling of extreme hatred and scorn, feeling putridity is much better than feeling it, really. And finally, the zenith of the torturous apparatus of annihilation are the vocals and the "lyrics" (song titles actually): Screams of an executioner, as his very veins pump with the blood of his victims as he executes them; growls and grunts of a monstrous super-mutant as he rips through the shreds of flesh and the sound of the entrails being digested and corroded by the venomous bile and acid within its body. The lyrics, I'd assume, are just pure and unadulterated misanthropy and annihilation (obvious with tracks such as "Pandemonic Hyperblast", "When Humanity is Cancer" and "Human, All too Fucking Human"). The vocal style just adds so much to the music along with the lyrics. The best songs here are definitely "The Supreme Necrotic Audnance", with an amazing black metal riff, and "Pandemonic Hyperblast", with an intro of, well, pandemonic hyperblasts and a non-stopping assault of doom and infernal ruin.
So basically, what you got here is an opus of damnation and castigation. And I don't feel I've exaggerated with the use of metaphors and analogies here; this album really did churn and made all these feelings within me. I guess Kenney and Hunt managed to do what they tried to: to awaken the feelings of hopelessness and Armageddon. Not for the weak-hearted nor for those who hate noise and "atmospheric" stuff.
Mick Kenney and Dave Hunt simply know what the fuck they're doing. Every 'Thrakh full-length is a gem, and even their EP's and demos (poorly produced as the demos were) were enjoyable. From "Domine Non Es Dignus" and onward, each album progressed into new musical territory, building upon the band's true black metal roots, with "Domine . . ." adding melody and clean singing. "Eschaton" and "Hell is Empty and All the Devils Are Here" each added more grindcore and death metal influences (blackened deathgrind?). "In the Constellation of the Black Widow" is their most rounded effort to date. But, what became of the black metal? Sure, it's a primary part of the Anaal Nathrakh sound, but nowadays that element is farther back in the mix. For those craving more black metal in Anaal Nathrakh's sound, look no further than "The Codex Necro"; it's their first full length, 46 minutes of pure industrial black metal terror that just might scare ya upon first listen.
It opens with eerie synths or keys (can't tell which; Kenney himself says it's a third guitar layer), then launching headfirst into "The Supreme Necrotic Audnance." This song is definitely up there for one of the best opening songs ever. It's mayhem. It's insanity. It's brutal, fast, and terrifying. It's Anaal Nathrakh. The programmed drums add to the dark, industrial atmosphere, while simple but effective, razor sharp black metal riffs shred your ears to pieces. "When Humanity is Cancer" opens with sampled screaming on top of what seems to be the sound of a thunderous drum, then greets the listener with a doom-laden, sinister-as-fuck black metal riff. The pace picks up about a minute into the song, with blasts beats pounding away on top of, at times, improbably fast double bass (that's what a drum machine is for, I suppose). "Submission is for the Weak" is pure industrial black metal, containing the infamous 'Die on your knees" line. "Pandemonic Hyperblast" is just that: pandemonium, with blast beats galore. It's a relentless song that hits the listener like a black metal tsunami.
"Paradigm Shift - Annihilation" is an industrial track, replete with samples and a frightening soundscape. Then, the highlight of the album, "The Technogoat" rears its ugly, menacing head. Opening with the Event Horizon sample (frenzied screaming, followed by the phrase "Liberate tu teme ex inferis"), "The Technogoat" proceeds to annihilate in the way that the previous song could not. It's a fine slab of black metal that doesn't relent. It doesn't slow down once until the 3:08 mark, at which point a massive, doomy black metal riff changes the pace and makes the song positively frightening. "Incipid Flock," "Human, All to Fucking Human" (Nietzsche, anyone?) and the title track end the album in a flurry of black metal madness.
For being a self produced black metal album, it sounds pretty damn good. The guitars are fuzzy at times, though most likely done intentionally to keep some semblance of that Norwegian DIY black metal mentality and sound. The drums are never overpowering. Dave Hunt's vocals, as you may know, are just painful to listen to; I'm not sure how a human can make the sounds he does. His terrifying shrieks are the focal point of his performance, but he belts out a few low-as-fuck growls from time to time as well. There's no bass to be heard, as this production job is trebly as hell.
Mick Kenney is no guitar master, but he sure as hell knows how to write some damn good black metal riffs. He can also program drums effectively. Sure, the drums are mostly blast beats, a la black metal, but he somehow makes it sound like a live drummer, save for the odd instance in which he programs 64th note double bass for an improbable period of time. He doesn't solo either, not on this album anyway. Malmsteen lovers, steer clear of this album, you're not gonna find much to enjoy. Kvlt Norsecore panda-looking metalheads, you might not like the lack of "true" black metal atmosphere, which is eschewed in favor of a desolate, industrial atmosphere. But if you like extreme metal that's just balls-out heavy, check this out.
Since the release of this classic debut album, Anaal Nathrakh has gone from strength to strength, establishing themselves firmly in the metal underground. Even so, “The Codex Necro”, their first album, never ceases to amaze me, even more than their subsequent releases.
The discordant synthesizer in the first few seconds of the opener “The Supreme Necrotic Audnance” does nothing to prepare you for the aural onslaught of these 9 tracks. Every second of “The Codex Necro” drips with nihilistic rage. This album is mercilessly heavy from start to macabre finish. V.I.T.R.I.O.L’s voice of ear-splitting fury carried this unholy debut from obscurity to its legendary status. Incredibly, this album is still relevant today, long after the metal world was introduced to Anaal Nathrakh’s particular brand of insanity.
Every song on this album is relentless in intensity. The distorted guitar sound, manic vocals and overall production create an uneasy atmosphere, subliminally making the listener aware of Anaal Nathrakh’s malicious intent on “The Codex Necro”. The guitars are brutal in their simplicity, with crushing riffs and mega-distortion throughout. Their sound is thin and trebly, but in a good way, feeling dark and cold rather than too industrial. The aforementioned vocals are unlike anything I’ve ever heard (except perhaps on other Anaal Nathrakh albums). The squealing, urgent screams have become something of a trademark for AN, but they were even more raw and intense here. It sounds almost painful, certainly no pleasant utterances to be heard on this album. The programmed drums work well with the bass, immensely fast and heavy, with blastbeats almost exclusively and the bass punctuating the guitars with blistering speed.
An aspect of Anaal Nathrakh’s music that sadly occurred less and less on later albums, are the intriguing clips and samples from movies. Never overdone and always fitting on “The Codex Necro” , it makes quite an impression. They fill the songs well, an effective instrument adding subtly to the dark undertones of the album. Particularly on the outro of the title track, the terrified screams end the album unexpectedly, disturbingly.
The debut effort from these Brits was much less refined than their later work. With raw production and all-but-subtle heaviness, this is thoroughly uncompromising, a truly groundbreaking album. Not that AN got any easier to listen to (take the ferocity of “Domine Non Es Dignus” for example), but this just seems more insane than anything else out there, even today. Completely devoid of the melody or clean vocals found on their later releases, this album was all about brutality. This is guaranteed to take you way outside your comfort zone and keep you there, until nothing else sounds good enough. No-one else has this much ferocity, it makes even Belphegor albums sound tame.
A decade has passed since this mammoth album was released unto the world, and it is still an incredibly visceral experience, deeply unsettling and evil in every note. You have been warned.
Arriving like a nuclear payload over the stagnant, turn of the century black metal scene, Anaal Nathrakh were one of the bands whose vicious ideals and unrelenting sonic massacre helped reinvigorate the clarion call to blasphemy. 'The Codex Necro' is simply one of the most beautiful and bestial haunches of raw meat to ever animate and step off the butcher block. Infusing grind savagery, necrotic black and death metal into an unforgiving onslaught, they immediately entered the radar of many an extreme connoisseur.
One listen and you'll realize why. This is heavy. The band does not let up. While many bands were roaming the snowy landscapes and preaching pagan idolatry, Anaal Nathrakh strike at you from an urban, industrial wasteland. The album begins with a trio of jaw smashing rapid fire fistfucking mayhem ("The Supreme Necrotic Audnance", "When Humanity is Cancer" and the pummeling "Submission is for the Weak"). Few were likely to survive past this initial genocidal triumvirate, but if they had, they'd only have been met with the scathing and uncaring winds of the "Pandemonic Hyberblast". This album must have sent me to the emergency room a half dozen times and cost me $1000s in uninsured hospital bills. And yet the album grows more intense with every moment. "Paradigm-Shift Annihilation" strikes with a succession of dark industrial drumming, spoken word and brutal fucking black attack. "The Technogoat" is one of the most venomous predators to be sighted outside of the Norwegian source. How about those fucking wa-was? "Incipit Flock" indicts the massing meek of Earth to an untimely death penalty. "Human, All Too Fucking Human" heralds the nihilistic afterbirth of well read black metal legions. The title tracks ends the album even more destructively than it was announced.
I'd offer you some lyrics...but the band has graciously decided not to include them. Wankers! It is hard to remain bitter about this, because they offer so much else to be bitter about. 'The Codex Necro' is also noteworthy because it's one of the better self-produced black metal records ever, with an aggressive and messy crunch and hiss. The vocals slather through various modes of misanthropic grunts, snarls and howls, and the band uses a myriad of film samples tastefully and often subtly among their compositions. Half the vocals sound more like someone choking on battery acid than actually verbalizing lyrics.
They've released several great albums since this one, but I always return to 'the Codex Necro', their finest and darkest hour, and I recommend it to you as your inaugural neckbreaking to this band. Jesus avert your ears.
There is nothing innovative about this duo from Birmingham, England. I cease to hear what exactly is so original or innovating about what they do. People even go as far as saying that this is the future of Black Metal. Whoa, there. Let’s get one thing straight first. This is NOT Black Metal. This album is no more Black Metal than Bathory’s Destroyer of Worlds (which, by the way, is an excellent album, but it’s just not BM in any sense either) or Mayhem’s A Grand Declaration Of War. And as far as this being the future of BM goes, I certainly hope that isn’t the case here. Now I am not one of those close minded, BM elitists, but I do know what BM is and what it isn’t, and this sir, is definitely not BM. Black Metal is supposed to be give off a sense or feeling of evil and darkness. For fuck’s sake, the music all sounds programmed on here. The only element that’s even remotely BM related are the vocals. That’s really it.
Alright, so now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the music. Despite my rant, this isn’t a bad album by any means. What we’ve got here is a damn good grindcore/industrial like effort from a very extreme band. That’s probably one of the reasons as to why this band uses programmed beats. They’re inhumanely fast. But on the downside, the riffs and even the vocal work appear to be altered by computer programming, which is the reason for the album’s industrial like overtones. But for what it is, this is done right! To be honest, the music of Anaal Nathrakh is not as brutal or relentless as people make it out to be. Prior to hearing the music, I’ve read quite a bit of reviews that go as far as saying “prepare yourself....blah blah blah”. Yes, this music is really fucking fast. Yes, it’s brutal to a point, but I expected much worse (positively speaking). This isn’t jaw dropping Metal we’re talking about here. But the riff work, insanely fast beats and industrialized atmosphere make this to be one great album if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for.
It would be pointless to touch on every song like I usually do in my reviews, so let me just start by saying this. The opening track, The Supreme Necrotic Audnance, sums up what this album is all about. I found it hard to believe how incredible some of the riffs were in this song, and yes, I am referring the mid soloing. Quite a brutal song, actually. Two very similar, nearly identical tracks are Submission Is For The Weak and Pandemonic Hyperblasts, which slay in terms of speed and aggression without letting down once. Still, it isn’t hard to notice variation in riffs despite the speed they’re executed at, and despite the incredibly down tuned nature of every programed note. Taking on an even more industrial type feel are the tracks When Humanity Is Cancer and Paradigm Shift. The first consists of some of the most driving, captivating riff work I have heard in awhile, while the latter relies more on variation the use of sound samples through out the song. There’s even a point where a total industrial break down occurs, believe it or not. Also, Human All Too Fucking Human is very similar as well. But, the best song on here by far, has got to be final track, The Codex Necro. Due to the style of riffing that is used, it’s the most Black Metalish sounding track on the whole album. Well I guess that’s not saying much anyway.
If you’re looking for relentless extreme Metal, this is probably not the album or the band to look too unless you don’t mind computerized beats underlining the music. In other words, if you can’t stand anything relating to the genre of Industrial Metal or Grind, then stay away. I still think this album deserves a listen, though. However, Marduk pulled off this style much more brutally with Panzer Division Marduk. Looking for sheer brutality? Then turn to that one instead.
It is probably best to begin by saying that absolutely nothing will prepare or protect you from this assault of utterly belligerent and daunting Black Metal. The sheer ferocity maintained throughout this release, Anaal Nathrakh’s debut, is present almost solely to instil the listener with fear, rage and desolation…perhaps even bordering on the perfect equation for the newer wave of bands within the Black Metal genre.
Consisting of Irrumator on all instruments and drum programming and V.I.T.R.I.O.L. on vocals, this duo from Birmingham seem like a relatively unlikely prospect for the future of extreme music, yet on hearing the spine-chilling squeals of opener “The Supreme Necrotic Audnance” followed by a cataclysmic explosion of brutality, it immediately becomes clear that Anaal Nathrakh are offering something more ground-breaking and inventive than most of their contemporaries. The layered guitars sound absolutely enormous and V.I.T.R.I.O.L.’s vocals are quite possibly the most horrifying and malicious ever to have been recorded. Continuing with “When Humanity Is Cancer”, the sound and pace of the drum machine begins to stand out more and more. However, rather than hinder this unhinged violence, its utter clinical precision and extreme tempo, further highlight a sense of originality and add to the vehemence of this work.
Further enhancing the apocalyptic feel of the album is an effective use of samples, particularly from the film “Event Horizon”. The start of “The Technogoat” for example greets the listener with a barrage of torturous screams and cries and a crooked voice warning us: ‘Liberate tu-teme ex inferis!’ (‘Save yourself from Hell!’). And no warning could be more apt as the extremity continues with more crushing guitar riffs and unholy vocal terror. Perhaps, towards the end of the album, some of the tracks do tend to become a little more derivative in comparison with the first section of tracks, such as “Human, All Too Fucking Human” and “Incipid Flock”, but otherwise “The Codex Necro” is packed full of ultimate necrotic and frighteningly compelling Black Metal.
This is an album for those unafraid to step headfirst into the apocalyptic sounds of modern Black Metal. Unrelenting and challenging it may be, but this is genuinely one of the most rewarding albums ever to have represented the field of extreme music and will doubtlessly become a classic milestone in years to come.
Originally written for http://www.blastwave.co.uk
Finding the mean between using sheer brutality as an expressive force(think early Grindcore) and using aggression soley for novelty purposes(like their worthless second album and 98% of the Brutal Death Metal scene) Anaal Nathrakh succed in painting a vision of a post-apocalyptic future for our cancerous species. The lifelessness of the drum machine, the computer distorted, throat raping vocals(one of the better vocal preformances from any band in recent memory) the static drone of the guitar and the ripping tempo project a landscape inhospitable to almost any living creature. A world of poison, the twisted remains of civilization, and fume.
Riding off pure passion, this album is low on innovation. It is easy to see why a lot of people hate this album, but its musical presence explains why many others do like it. If a young Mayhem, into cybergrind, injested toxic waste and killed half their braincells while recording, they probably would have sounded just like this.
Many people have sat here creaming their pants over the new creation into the realms of black metal that is Anaal Nathrakh. Their alleged debut opus has proven to be one of the most talked about releases of the recent black metal scene. It's nothing more than the other bands that gear us toward stagnation from past and present. Anaal Nathrakh's effort on this release is below decent in terms of sound.
Anaal Nathrakh are another really fast black metal band who doesn't have any idea which direction and feeling they want to gear with their releases. This is another band that lacks the spirit and feeling of creating something timeless but rather satisfy themselves with a weekend retreat with a evil for evil's sake attitude in their music. The band fails to try to generate any feeling or vision with this project but rather stumble onward with a mediocre black metal release that fails to entertain or construct any form of meaning to the music. Why is incoherent screaming (are they supposedly to be words or random grunting) and random 'evil' riffs played repetitively to make a listener lose all sense of thought? This is basically black metal wallpaper music with no sense of direction or any real thought behind it. You can imagine the band sitting there thinking how great they must be to record a black metal album.
Now, let me explain something about Anaal Nathrakh, by no means do i think the band isn't talented. This album has proven to be very well composed. The riffs and playing is pretty well done and nearly flawless. There is no doubt that the musicians are not talented, but Anaal Nathrakh fails to achive any true feeling of black metal but rather seem to have the mindset "Hey! Lets go make a black metal album, get cash, get laid, and be true!" without digging deeper into their music to create a true meaning of belief and existence. This band could definitely create a good black metal album if they were able to achive a body for the exoskeleton that is this so called "Black metal album" and generate an aura that fits their music, but with this release the band fails to grasp a true feeling with their music, and rather sit around try to generate a carbon copy black metal album.
Aesthetically it's pretty well put together as i have been saying. The guitars could easily pass as the occasional black metal recycled riffs over the years are used again on this release. The vocals are beyond what can be constructed as any speech of any type, and everything is put together like a typical modern black metal band would be, though the Anaal Nathrakh camp fail to deliver an essence in their music that makes it worthwile and timeless. A lot of their tracks on this release are quite generic and merely dig a deeper hole in the banal modern art form of black metal's current state. Nonetheless, Anaal Nathrakh can deliver a very well constructed and composed release which is worthy of at least one listen if you feel up to the torture of a black metal album without the spirit that makes black metal an art that it is.
Imagine Mayhem with Hellhammer on Steroids and give him a set of guitars to fiddle around with, get Vikernes to kill the Bassist and Guitarist from Mayhem to leave the vocalist and Hellhammer in a dark corner of the Midlands. That is Annal Nathrakh.
Onto the review, the vocalist, V.I.T.R.I.O.L, screams the lyrics with the intent of destorying your sense of security with a hint of distortion made to make them more inhuman like with Irrumator AKA Mick Kennedy setting the drum machine to supersonic-to-smash-your-skull-into-pieces and playing some demonic riffs to create a sense of chaos.
It can be difficult to find the guitars under the maelstrom of Irrumator's machine programming but they are there and you can hear them as well. the vocalist can also go into a low voice from some songs and there are some use of samples from old films and what I think is a necrogeddon cult (I'm sure some of those samples ARE from cults of some kind).
Each song on the album has it's own identity in spite of the drumming machine, all going at various speeds, changing gears throughout the album which keeps the album fresh and not stagnate from the breakneck speed of the sound. That said, it can drag on in some places and the blastbeating drum machine will lost it's impact over repeated listens.
Despite a few niggles, Anaal Nathrakh's "The Codex Necro" should be considered for capture if you're a Black Metal fan, recommened if you like brutal Black Metal that doesn't blastbeat the listener to hell and necorland.
This is quite something different from the torrential outpours of the black metalscene of recent. Most releases in the bm-scene lately seem to fall into two categories: oldschool-type sound, which has proverbially been done to death, and bands that try to innovate by introducing elements from other genres into their music (predominantly an industrial edge). And then there are the bands that actually manage to produce worthwhile music, while sticking to an old formula or innovating. Or rather: they manage not to upset mainstream underground.
And then there's Anaal Nathrakh. An odd name, especially for a British band whose members aren't even corpse-painted(!). Thing with Anaal Nathrakh is that they fit in neither of two categories really while still making kick-ass innovative music that can best be described as black metal. So you get a band that will get high scores from people with broad tastes, but also a band that will most likely be dismissed by the bm-elitists as irrelevant, or as 'being norsecore'.
But screw that, Anaal Nathrakh rule too much for that!
A.N. make an odd type of blasting black metal. Firstly there's the machinegun drumcomputers (or is that a live drummer? Guess not) that manage to bear down on the listener incessantly without ever being boring, but generally providing an atmosphere that could best be described as pandemonic. The guitars are tremolo-picked, but manage to have a different sound across tracks; I presume due to a slightly different way of playing. Sometimes they are more on the background, sometimes they sear to the foreground. Then there's the grim vocals that are screeched unintelligibly but really fit the music; a mix of rage and a narrative of the apocalypse in a manner of speaking.
A.N.'s ambition is to make the soundtrack to the armageddon. Before I say they succeeded or anything, a lot of bands have claimed to be doing similar things, but I have to warn that this really doesn't sound like anything comparable to Darkthrone or Mayhem. Or like Bestial Warlust or even Marduk for that matter, although it's a tiny bit more in that direction.
But A.N. make a damn nice attempt anyhow. The difference is that with the aforementioned bands, if they speak of armageddon, I see before me a medieval world meeting it's doom. With Anaal Nathrakh the visions are of the present-day society being swiftly envelopped in it's doom. This is probably due to the excellent production that renders the music very audible and harsh at the same time (so it's kinda grim but not totally necro...or was it the other way around?), and the (IMO) tastefull use of samples spread across the tracks. The samples add something to the atmosphere on this album (note the sample from Event Horizon :), although it's generally not done in the genre.
All in all, the kind of album you put on if you're in the general mood for it, and then bang your head to it.