Amidst a debate over whether or not modern metal is too immaculately produced, Anaal Nathrakh would not be a strong defense for the dissenter. For the British band’s concoction of black metal, grindcore and industrial creates some of the most mechanical and hyper-polished music in all three of these genres. And seeing as their drums are programmed by guitarist/bassist Irrumator, the band’s inhuman sound is, in a way, literally true. All of this provided neither much anticipation nor disappointment for their eighth album, Desideratum.
After all, throwing on an Anaal Nathrakh song is not a surprise-filled experience: first the song builds with some heavy chugs and/or start-stop tremolos, then Irrumator presses the blast beat button, and finally, vocalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L. jumps in with various indiscriminate shrieks and barks or campy operatic vocals (when the band decides to throw in a melodic passage). And at any moment, these elements are subject to digital effects and computer bleeps and bloops. This is not a terrible experience though; the predictability of their music also comes with a solid guarantee of mindless head-banging and adrenaline spiking.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned “drummer” does stir up some challenges to this enjoyment. Sure, there is obviously a lot more to drum programming than simply loading up some software. But considering the pace and endurance that Anaal Nathrakh’s “drummer” demonstrates (especially with the blast beats), it is nigh impossible to shake the lingering thought that this could not be organically performed. So while the drumming is pretty neat, if a little rigid, awarding the band high praise for this is akin to equating a pitching machine operator to an actual pitcher.
This automated sound infects the remainder of the instrumentation as well. While this has already been mentioned in regards to Anaal Nathrakh’s songwriting, the production on this album exacerbates the performances’ uniformity to the point that Desideratum becomes dreadfully homogenous. Opening track “Acheronta Movebimus” sounds like an offering from any of the current nu-metal revival bands, and if it were not for Anaal Nathrakh’s other genre influences, a majority of the other tracks on the album would warrant this description as well.
What ultimately plagues Anaal Nathrakh is both formula and sterility. None of the tracks on Desideratum are outright awful, but nor are they particularly memorable or invigorating. The band would certainly benefit from a reboot in both their composition style and the way in which they present it. Until then, albums like Desideratum will provide nothing more than brutish pleasure.
Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum gets…