Anaal Nathrakh
Desideratum


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex Newton USER (49 Reviews)
October 26th, 2014 | 40 replies


Release Date: 10/28/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Brutal, precise, and surprisingly accessible, Desideratum represents another solid album in Anaal Nathrakh's trophy case.

Don’t let the “soundtrack to the apocalypse” tagline fool you; while Anaal Nathrakh’s mission statement is far from unique, its hybridized sound is something worth checking out. Anaal Nathrakh’s core members, Dave Hunt (vocals) and Mick Kenney (everything else), have been fine-tuning their craft for sixteen years now. In that time, they have covered ground from traditional misanthropic black metal to brutal death, industrial, grind, and noise. Desideratum, their eighth effort, is a densely layered piece of extreme metal that builds on the foundation of 2012’s Vanitas. Though its sound takes influence from the relentless assault of Emperor as much as the wordless screams of Converge, calling it particularly close to either would be somewhat misleading. At its heart, Desideratum is an album of sustained ferocity, and while works of its ilk can easily become exhausting, Anaal Nathrakh knows better than to simply bludgeon without mixing things up along the way.

Hunt’s vocals are a focal point throughout Desideratum, and one of its main attractions. The sheer amount of different sounds he can make is astounding: “The Joystream” features at least four styles, from banshee shrieks and low growls to strong, melodic cleans and mid-range rasps. The cleans are emphasized here more than in the past, and these moments of clarity give each song on Desideratum handholds for the listener. Standout cuts “The One Thing Needful” and “Idol” both have strong vocal hooks that act as choruses, and in each case Anaal Nathrakh backs up those moments with some awesomely heavy blast beat-backed riffs. Sure, what Hunt is saying is never particularly clear, but in the words of Ikillya’s singer Jason Lekberg, “Many great musicians can display emotion through their instruments, but a great vocalist can do that even without words.”

Despite loads of heavily distorted guitars and snarled vocals, everything on Desideratum sounds extremely crisp, though whether this is a good or bad thing is up to the listener. While the drums here are programmed, the sharp double-kick and tom work is at least believable – think Hellhammer’s work on In Sorte Diaboli – and this allows the percussion to stand out and drive the songs. The keyboards and samples on tracks like “A Firm Foundation of Unyielding Despair” add a cold-hearted industrial element, backed by processed vocals set far back in the mix. The fit is a surprisingly good one, as Kenney’s drum work already sounds like an unstoppable machine. For what it’s worth, all of this clockwork does tend to detract from the human element of Desideratum, so fans wary of overly-polished “modern” production may find the album to be a little short on personality.

As for song-to-song variation, Anaal Nathrakh does a decent job of mixing things up. Proper opener “Unleash” rages with call-and-response tremolo guitar riffs and pounding backbeat percussion, and also introduces the first of several infectious vocal hooks. “Monstrum in Animo” turns up the intensity with layered screams and relentless blast beats, while “The One Thing Needful” opts for a more intelligible melodic approach. Hot on the heels of “Idol” comes the album’s most metalcore track in “Sub Specie Aeterni,” whose wailing guitars and fill-heavy drum work could probably infiltrate All We Love We Leave Behind and at least get inside the front door. So while Anaal Nathrakh is working with elements we’ve heard before, the band’s propensity to use a slightly different selection for each song certainly adds to Desideratum’s overall listenability.

The album as a whole runs a curt forty-one minutes, which (mercifully) alleviates ear fatigue considering the overbearing nature of Anaal Nathrakh’s music. Desideratum is a largely air-tight affair that relies on its precise execution and broad palette in equal turn, both of which are hallmarks of Hunt and Kenney’s experience as they churn out another in a string of solid albums. Fans of Anaal Nathrakh’s previous work will likely find Desideratum a satisfying, if somewhat more approachable, entry in the band’s catalog, and that combination is also likely to earn the group another boost in the size of its audience. Pick this up if you’re in the market for some sure-footed brutality, as Anaal Nakrath seem to have found a groove as one of extreme metal’s better crossover acts.



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3.4
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Emeritus
October 26th 2014


17368 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah this was really good

FuneralMarch
October 26th 2014


193 Comments


It was much better than Vanitas, that's for sure.

Artuma
October 26th 2014


30103 Comments


wasn't a big fan of vanitas but need to hear this

emester
October 26th 2014


8251 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

listening right now



I like what im hearing so far

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2014


18058 Comments


I really need to check this band

Digging: Opeth - Garden of the Titans

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
October 26th 2014


9293 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Couple of misleading sections here like "Mick's drumming is obviously triggered"



A small amount of research would tell you that the drumming is programmed, the live set drummer actually plays for Arrogant Destrucktor.



Your comparisons to killswitch engage is hideous, it's like your name dropping for the hell of it, or don't know better.

pedro70512
October 26th 2014


4167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Nocte. I'll fix the part about the programming. Jones vocals immediately came to mind when I

heard this, so it's not a random comparison. But I'll edit it down because you asked so nicely.

MoosechriS
October 26th 2014


6352 Comments


sounds interesting, may check this out

Crysis
Emeritus
October 26th 2014


17368 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I also disagree a lot with the KSE comparison

pedro70512
October 26th 2014


4167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Give me a better one and I'll gladly give ita lookand swap it.

Mercy
October 26th 2014


225 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, this is a sick record. The vocal hook on 'Idol' gets me everytime, though I did feel like the first half of the album was much weaker than the second half.

Crysis
Emeritus
October 26th 2014


17368 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Give me a better one and I'll gladly give ita lookand swap it




You don't have to compare the vocals to anything. I'm just simply saying I agree with Nocte in that there is nothing in his voice that is reminiscent of Howard Jones.

Dryden
October 26th 2014


13551 Comments


never cared for this band but prob will give this a listen

pedro70512
October 26th 2014


4167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Crysis - already axed it. Guess I was hearing something that wasn't there.

Dizchu
October 26th 2014


269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. Also glad you took out the Howard Jones comparison, keeps things concise.



I'm not the biggest fan of Dave's cleans but his shrieking never gets old for me. Castigation and Betrayal is a beautiful song.

pedro70512
October 26th 2014


4167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

check it out for yourself. they posted the hookiest song as the lead single.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q23j7tJTgg0

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2014


10468 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Take my pos, nice review, pretty much put all my exact thoughts into a review.



Damn you mind reader you.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
October 27th 2014


9293 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I was on the phone and probably didn't mean to sound as abrasive as I did, I'm on a laptop now so I can give you a bit of the depth/explanation you need.



Anaal Nathrakh’s core members, Dave Hunt (vocals) and Mick Kenney (everything else),




Correct, but it's also worth mentioning what 'everything else' is. It's not as simple as mentioning the basic aesthetics of every band with a band as layered as Anaal Nathrakh. Keep in mind this is uber nit-picky.

Though its sound generally falls somewhere between the relentless assault of Emperor and the wordless screams of Converge, calling it particularly close to either would be somewhat misleading.




While I agree that that would be misleading, it irks me to see such names anywhere near this band. Like Crysis says, you don't have to make comparisons to other bands. You'd be better off describing the actual music rather than providing vague comparisons.



Your second and third paragraphs are pretty much spot on, there's some really valid points there, but you lose steam with your fourth paragraph. This might just be me, but it feels like you're rushing through a sweeping overview of the album's tracks to cover all your bases. Sure you're describing all the tracks, but there's no depth to that entire paragraph, no examples backing points etc.



which (mercifully) alleviates ear fatigue considering the overbearing nature of Anaal Nathrakh’s music.




I don't think 'overbearing' is the right terminology here. You'd be better off explaining that this obviously isn't for everyone and that Anaal Nathrakh's music can be suffocating, when played for extended time frames.







Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
October 27th 2014


9293 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Keep in mind I think this is far from a bad review, you just need to back yourself up from time to time and provide relevant examples/comparisons. For a band that really fits a niche nicely it becomes a stretch to bring names like Converge, Emperor, and Killswitch Engage in.



A small bit of research goes a long way with any review.

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
October 27th 2014


10468 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I kinda get where you guys are coming from with the band comparisons complaint, but personally I usually appreciate those because they give me a better perspective on their sound.



And after all everything sounds at least a little like something else.



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