Review Summary: Anaal Nathrakh may be a bright spark in the British metal scene, but don’t let that fool you. They can proudly stand tall in the midst of today’s extreme metal.
On the surface, the British music scene can seem pretty mediocre in the 21st Century. Without even going into the mainstream pop scene there aren’t many new bands of this Century putting out consistently great albums. As far as mainstream metal goes it isn’t much better. Bullet for my Valentine
blew up all over Britain but have only managed to make average Metalcore, and Dragonforce
can’t make an album without turning into a complete wankfest which can only appeal to Guitar Hero geeks. As far as ‘extreme’ metal is concerned, Cradle of Filth
hasn’t really made an album living up to the days of ‘Dusk and her Embrace’ and even then you can argue that really, it wasn’t that great.
So imagine the surprise when bands like Anaal Nathrakh
are apparent in a seemingly declining British metal scene, stressing the word ‘seemingly’. It is clear that England hasn’t produced a band this unrelenting, blistering and brutal in a very, very long time. The title track itself really showcases what this band is about, starting off with haunting atmosphere and background laughing before exploding with V.I.T.R.I.O.L.’s
inhuman high shriek before going into utter chaos. On first listen it can be somewhat of a overwhelming or awe-inspiring experience but don’t let that fool you, as you listen more you start to detect the underlying melodies and harmonies which are all over this album. Mick Kenney’s
performance on this album is perfect for a band of this nature, His crushing riffs and pummeling blast beats are met with a variety hooks which can make this album extremely catchy after repeated listens, once you get used to the Armageddon like sound you can really start to appreciate the albums sound as a whole.
The vocal performance of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. is nothing short of incredible. His vocal range allows him to go from incredibly high shrieks to disgustingly low grind vocals and pig squeals, vocals which cross black metal, death metal, grind and even clean singing. What's even more impressive is that it is all surprisingly audible and listenable. Even the ridiculous amount of ear piercingly high shrieks at the start of the title track can be with stood from any long term metal listener or fan. His clean singing is also very well executed and unique causing breaks from Anaal Nathrakh’s continuous onslaught. All this makes for a surprisingly varied album which rarely gets repetitive despite the 34 minutes of hatred and evil.
The song writing as a whole is also superb, the riffs are crushing, melodies are placed when needed and in no way overtake the sound this album wanted to achieve. Crossing over from extreme metal to core, these guys can compete and even surpass the vast amount of core and extreme metal bands. The black metal shrieks are among some of the best of today’s black metal breed and the enormously epic breakdown in The Lucifer Effect
puts pretty much every core band to shame as it is extremely well thought out.
This album is arguably a classic in modern British extreme metal but there are few things to consider. This album is certaintly not the most accessible in the world to newer metal listeners. If you are not familiar with Black metal, Death Metal or even Grind then you may be in for a shock and it could very much overwhelm you and become to unbearable to listen, it takes quite a trained listener to get past the extreme heaviness to see the appeal of this album. However if you are a seasoned metal fan then I see this as no problem, this should be in your metal collection because you would be missing out on one of the highlights of the year. Anaal Nathrakh may be a bright spark in the British metal scene, but don’t let that fool you. They can proudly stand tall in the midst of today’s extreme metal.