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Anaal Nathrakh – Vanitas - 90%

Asag_Asakku, October 19th, 2012

Entering Anaal Nathrakh madmen’s world is a risk for anyone trying. Their music is a pure psychotic violence manifest and it’s difficult to recover from it. My personal experience with this band begins with Eschaton and I’m still wearing scars. Their unique blend of death / black / grindcore / industrial may in fact cause permanent brain damage, particularly in the aggression controlling lobe.

However, over time, Irrumator (instruments) and V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (Voice) added melodic elements to their compositions, which were virtually absent until then. Already in 2007, Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here included several songs with catchy riffs and soaring epic passages, quite unusual for such an extreme band. I admit, however, having been less enthusiastic about their following two albums, especially Passion that left me almost indifferent. So it’s without expectation I bought Vanitas, already the seventh full-length of this Birmingham's prolific duo.

It is difficult to express in words the punch in the face I received when I first heard this record. From first listen, I’m blown away by the uninhibited mastery spread by its authors. Entire song writing is based on an almost surreal balance between disjointed aggression and immediately memorable melodies. Group members also seem to have finally given up the endless syncopated sequences that made their previous albums so difficult. They – somehow – put order into chaos, in a register very close to what a band like Strapping Young Lad used to play.

While I criticized previous albums for their extreme confusion, Vanitas is instead remarkably homogeneous. Each song is perfectly connected, without breaking rhythm or slowdown, except – perhaps – the slowest Feeding the Beast, which provides an illusory rest between detonations. I also note a better use of vocal registers. Long and grandiloquent clear voice passages are better distributed and, most importantly, better controlled, especially on A Metaphor for the Dead, where the clean voiced sections add a strong epic dimension to the song.

I address this message to wet blankets who might claim that Anaal Nathrakh sold its soul to attract a wider audience: Vanitas is an almost flawless album and the band is unleashing hell towards the listener. It can be now compared to some British legends such as Extreme Noise Terror, Napalm Death and Carcass. This record will undoubtedly cause a new wave of murderous psychosis among their most devoted fans. 9/10

Originally written for Métal Obscur.