Anaal Nathrakh

Vanitas

01. The Blood-Dimmed Tide
02. Forging Towards the Sunset
03. To Spite the Face
04. Todos Somos Humanos
05. In Coelo Quies, Tout Finis Ici Bas
06. You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying
07. Make Glorious The Embrace of Saturn
08. Feeding the Beast
09. Of Fire, And Fucking Pigs
10. A Metaphor for the Dead

[11/06/12]
[Candlelight Records]

Since their inception, British duo Anaal Nathrakh have become somewhat of an archetypal image of extreme metal. Their now nine-record strong discography epitomizes the extent to which the genre can be pushed into the realms of depravity and nihilism. Their intoxicating blend of black metal and grindcore has provided listeners with an onslaught of the some most brutal and chaotic music available. Tinges of power metal infiltrate the mix in epic soaring choruses, rounding out the band’s apocalyptic score and balancing out the pummeling depths with swathes of powerful triumph. The band’s latest offering Vanitas continues the band’s unmistakable esoteric nature, though it’s becoming increasingly clear that they may be running low on new tricks.

Vanitas, like Passion before it, is a wholly welcomed and stellar addition to the band’s catalogue and has everything anyone could ever want out of an Anaal Nathrakh, save for perhaps a bit of innovation. Furious music centered largely on the blastbeats, tremolo picking, and grooving riffs back frontman Dave Hunt’s schizophrenic and often lyricless vocal work, evoking a clear aesthetic and atmosphere set in a realm of primal defeat. Look no further than the appropriately titled ‘Of Fire, And Fucking Pigs‘ for an example of what Anaal Nathrakh are all about. It’s a wholly unique sound that the band are famous in the genre for, yet there’s little deviation in tone. Anaal Nathrakh are getting comfortable in their odd approach, and Vanitas feels as if it’s going through the motions as they settle in on their definitive sound. While the band’s trademark style is immediately identifiable and present on Vanitas, much of the material could have been on any other Anaal Nathrakh record, and this is the band’s only drawback.

Though, Vanitas does manage to have some quirks that make it stand out as its own entity. Anaal Nathrakh have incorporated some industrial qualities across the record, with the intro to ‘Todos Somos Humanos’ sporting an almost dubstep-like beat as the song builds momentum and bleeds into the chorus’ pumping blasts. This industrial tone shows up a time or two later, which may be foreshadowing a new facet of their sound that the band can take advantage of and explore further on future outings. The album’s closer ‘A Metaphor For The Dead’ also takes the band into a more restrained and melodic direction, ending the album on a comparatively less devastating manner with harmonic guitar leads. While it’s hard to imagine a band like Anaal Nathrakh moving into a direction that is less extreme as they get deeper into their careers, it’s a good sound for them and it fits their grandiosity.

While their overall sound and ethos are inaccessible by virtue, there’s a satisfyingly cathartic aspect of the group that makes the chaos so driving and attractive. With this in mind, it downplays the lack of major innovation. The band subscribes to the philosophy of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ and Vanitas is just as good as any other Anaal Nathrakh record. Fans will undoubtedly be pleased, but those hoping for the band to try new things and take some more risks will be initially disappointed. Even still, the potency of Vanitas cannot be ignored, and the band still manages a mean left hook.

Anaal Nathrakh – Vanitas gets…

3.5/5

– JR

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