One does not exactly sit and listen to Anaal Nathrakh but rather allows a complete and thorough violation upon the senses. The band’s aural assault is all consuming and blatantly violent. The group from Birmingham, UK bring their own brand of black and death metal, with infusions of many other genres such as grindcore and industrial, stripping it down and converting it into an intense and viscerally intrusive sound. Since forming in 1999, Anaal Nathrakh, comprising of the duo of vocalist Dave Hunt (known as V.I.T.R.I.O.L.) and Mick Kenney (Irrumator), have been forging a devastating path that undoubtedly inspires varied opinions about their music and always tests the listener’s tolerance and stamina. Their new album Passion released on Candlelight Records is no exception – a withering, sonically loaded release of extreme metal that stirs much more than just surface reactions.
The album starts with “Volenti Non Fit Iniuria”, with its light and foreboding dark build up erupting into a driving frenzy of noise that is not too far from what is expected from Anaal Nathrakh. The spit-loaded vocal screams and grunts of Dave Hunt are harsh and intrusively stalk the crushing sounds of Kenney. There has been a suggestion that with Passion there would be the addition of new elements to their music and from the opener one can see some different flavours but nothing that deeply changes what is expected from the band. The psychotic tortured bedlam of “Drug-Fucking Abomination” follows, its seven minutes of grinding industrial like destruction interspersed with progressive sounds laced with desperate vocals which bring the mental chaotic break down to the fore.
There is a good consistency throughout the album, whether from the extreme and brief predatory onslaughts of “Post Traumatic Stress Euphoria” or “Locus Of Damnation” or the purer black metal, crusading riff quality of the best track on the release, “Le Diabolique est L’Ami du Simple”. The latter with its mainly clean vocals laced with hellish screams is imperious and soars above the other tracks, its symphonic flavour lying easily within the imposing drums and heavy riffs, all combining to inspire disturbing images and emotions.
As is regular on their releases Anaal Nathrakh has guest vocalists on a couple of the tracks. Rainer Landfermann (Pavor, Bethlehem) features on “Tod Huetet Uebel”, a challenging track that echoes around the head long after it ends. Though the vocals are fine there is a feeling that Hunt would have done a better and more consistent job in relation to the rest of the album. The other addition is Gnaw vocalist Alan Dubin on “Ashes Screaming Silence”, an explosive deathcore/industrial beast of a track with melodic, clean vocals which fight valiantly against the growling monster surrounding them. The result is very effective and extremely satisfying.
Passion is a good, solid album containing great imposing sounds and songs – each track when dissected shows a well constructed and satisfying layered piece of music – but much is lost underneath the oppressive and crushing delivery and attack. It certainly is worth investigating, and existing fans of Anaal Nathrakh will savour it as much as anything from the band in the past. Passion will also have you running for an ice cold shower just to test if any of your senses are still working from listening to it.