The Podcast


Latest Episode #45

Alan Averill

● Why no new anthems
● The recording stresses
● The real story of 'Storm Before Calm'
● "I wont play computer games with fans"

More Episodes

#44 - Sigurd Wongraven - Satyricon

#43- The dark art of Chelsea Wolfe

#42 - How Ken Coleman made Morbid Angel's artwork

Must reads:    All Albums Of The Month   ●   From The Vaults!   ●  The Forums Hall Of Fame   ●   Irish Metal - Reviews Archive
Anaal Nathrakh | 'Vanitas'

This reviewer’s last proper contact with Anaal Nathrakh was the ‘When Fire Reigns Down…’ EP from 2003 which was a savage, barbaric and twistedly sophisticated piece of modern Black Metal.

Skip ten years forward, and a jockey-load of releases later, – ‘Vanitas’ shows that the band have lost none of their bile with age.

In fact, this is pretty similar to that release in terms of marrying their nihilistic aggressive Black-grind with soaring, haunting vocal exultations that bring a perverse Biblical atmosphere to the table.

Mick Kenny, or Irrumator as his Mammy calls him, is a highly prolific riff machine, and his writing skill is all over this record but is hampered by silly lightweight industrial pieces that really add very little to the record.

A number of songs begin with that sort of underwater effect that you’d expect to hear in the middle of a dance song before exploding into full aggressive life. It gets old very fucking quickly.

‘Forging Towards the Sunset’ offers

some classic Anaal Nathrakh mayhem with all guns blazing. Some choppy chords give way to a chorus that sounds like Paradise Lost on adrenaline and is pretty damn cool.

Then we get the likes of ‘Todos Somos Humanos’, a bit of a mess of techno-ish, industrial metal that relies too heavily on monotonous Fear Factory riffing to elicit any real sense of dread or intrigue.

One or two potentially good riffs are ruined by insanely fast programmed beats that just sap out all energy before being totally finished off with FX abuse of the lowest order, that seems to have been shoveled on to cover up the absolute lack of a song happening.

There actually are some good tracks here, they just seem to have been buffered nearly out of existence by the ultra-modern production.

Luckily, V.I.T.R.I.O.L.’s vocals remain a highlight. From larynx bending screeches and guttural vomits to his highly impressive operatic clean vocals he works overtime to prevent some of these songs from completely slipping down the plug-hole.

‘To Spite the Face’ is a standout. Vocally he is all over the map in the best possible way. Every element of his wide and impressive range is called upon to create a piece of OTT theatrical wonder that is violently aggressive but also weirdly beautiful. To top it off Irrumator delivers a melodic lead solo verging on the epic, which, combined with the vocals, remind me of Arcturus’s fantastic ‘The Sham Mirrors’.

Following hot on its heels is the ruinous ‘You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying’ which sounds like a car crash of Black Metal, bad Industrial Metal and Nu Metal. The name couldn’t be more appropriate really. Sooner or later someone was going to follow Morbid Angel down the path less travelled, bless us and save us…

‘Feeding the Beast’ has a cool mid-paced saunter that the band inexplicably jot with dated sounding, superfluous electronics. Otherwise there is a convincing enough feeling of claustrophobic darkness and derangement conjured that would have benefitted from a murkier production but is pretty decent in its own right. Bar the stupidly fast drumming, of course.

This is a frustrating album to sit through. The guys can write great songs so why they feel they need to add the extra bells and whistles is a mystery when they do nothing other than distract and detract from the songs. It shows a lack of confidence in their writing ability.

The drums really need to be sorted out, too. They simply suck.

As an introduction for younger Metalheads to more violent sounds this may well serve as a decent gateway album, but for anyone who already has the bull of the underground by the horns much of this album will be fairly throwaway.

Pity, as when they hit the mark they are in a league of one.

2.4 / 5 – Andrew Cunningham ::: 30/10/12

  1. i lost interest with AN after Eschaton but, having been a huge fan of everything up to that, the big change for me was after they became a live band. I went to their first live show in London and it was insane, with the rhythm section from Napalm Death – Embury and Herrera (?)holding everything down perfectly.

    having seen them a few times since and heard the subsequent albums, their trading of violence for big, catchy hooks and Emperor-style clean vocals is massively disappointing and often doesn’t work. Too many songs sound crafted for the live arena which is grand but doesn’t play into what AN were originally so great at. In addition, as you mention, the recent drumming has continuously been sloppy or out of kilter with the music. Their Peel Session was great and the live version of “Do Not Speak” on the end of Domine Non Es Dignus is class because Nick Barker nails the drums.

  2. Eoin McLove Says:

    Those OTT programmed beats that are so fast they just end up a blur suck out a lot of the impact. They are meant to sound extreme but have the opposite effect. I think the vocals are the best thing about the band at this stage. Dave Hunt has a savage range but a lot of the music has more in common with metalcore these days. When they are menacing it sounds daycent but I can’t imagine I’ll be returning to this much.

Post your comment

Mail (will not be published - required)

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. This includes cookies from the content management and forum systems, Google Analytics for site statistical purposes, Google, Amazon and Ticketmaster for advertising banners and links, our upload widget and Facebook.