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Hell is Empty - 98%

Death_Welder, August 30th, 2016

This is it, the first of the humongous back to back albums from Anaal Nathrakh. Hell is Empty represents the fruit of all the band's labor up until this point. Above all what this album brings to the table is an incredible apocalyptic atmosphere and death/doom inspired songs and the closing section of Lama Sabachthani will prove that well enough. Before I start gushing in my next two reviews, let's take a quick look back to 2007. This is the band's 4th studio album and 3rd in 3 years, finally hitting the prolific streak they are still currently on. Hell is Empty was, and still is, an outsider in their discography in how much death metal influences the sound and production, especially when compared to Eschaton and Codex Necro. They hit you with the quick intro, Solifugae which I believe to be the name for the dreaded camel spider, then it's off to the races.

Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen is the first actual song, which translates to 'Hell's vengeance boils in my heart'. Immediately you can tell this music has some balls that Eschaton was lacking, with an added ferocity and much beefier production on top of the album's death/doom/grind theme. The vocals are great as always, but as soon as the chorus hits you with the clean vocals, it becomes clear very quickly this album is not like its 3 predecessors. Screaming of the Unborn comes up next, kicking off with a tasty black metal, Marduk styled riff and throat shredding vocals which we've heard before but somehow even more possessed and blood-curdled. There's another epic, soaring chorus which blends into a similar song structurally, Virus Bomb. Magnificent black metal riff and similar vocals and a chorus that could have been sung by a male valkyrie.

That's quite a bit of black metal influence thus far but it takes a sharp turn with The Final Absolution's intro and guttural vocals, then the grindy first riff of Shatter the Empyrean. Copy and paste for most songs about the choruses though because they continuously bring the obvious and epic hell-on-Earth atmosphere. Lama Sabachthani sounds like it's all essentially over for humanity, and if you recall in my first paragraph I mentioned how incredibly oppressive and doomy the last minute of the song is, leading into machine gun fire? Until the World Stops Turning it is, following suit nicely. Genetic Noose is in line with some of the gloomiest material they've done, with guest vocalist Josama Bin Horvath delivering the gutturals. Castigation and Betrayal is another song that stands out in a league of its own amongst the Anaal Nathrakh pantheon. It begins the track sounding closer to Eyehategod than anything else, channeling all the negativity of the record in a short-span, then...releasing it. The whole album up until this point was a tension build up culminating in the final 3+ minutes of Castigation and Betrayal's full assault on every organism left living. They release it all like the hell-mouth finally opened up and spewed this piece of demonic filth all over what was already wasteland like napalm. Musically it could be a track from The Codex Necro or perhaps In the Constellation. Anaal Nathrakh are quite good at foreshadowing the direction their next record will take and a deep analytical ear will pick it up in almost all of their albums.

FUCKING BUY IT. Their 2nd best record, if you liked anything else they've done at all then buy this one too. Buy the rest as well.