Release Date: Nov 6, 2012
Record label: Candlelight
“The entire universe marches irreversibly towards its grave. So not only is the life of each individual doomed; the entire human race is doomed. The universe is plunging towards inevitable extinction. Death is written throughout its structure. There is no escape. There is no hope.”—William ….
With their seventh full-length, Vanitas, Birmingham, UK's Anaal Nathrakh remind listeners that the number seven plays an important role in the biblical apocalypse. The breaking of the seven seals calls down the four horsemen and sets off a series of cataclysmic events; seven angels blow trumpets that demolish civilization; and seven bowls pour out plagues and judgements on the world. The duo's familiar banshee-like wails are joined by commanding passages of clean singing that, amidst the fierce yet mournful guitars, come across like apocalyptic heraldry.
Anaal Nathrakh had been a band for years and released several albums by the time they finally climbed onto a stage in 2005. In a veil of naivety, the British duo gave itself a Conlon Nancarrow complex, assuming that no drummer could adequately perform their pre-programmed overload of black metal, grindcore and obliterative noise in real time. So rather than stand on stage with a drum machine, vocalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L., or Dave Hunt, and multi-instrumental mastermind Irrumator, or Mick Kenney, sequestered themselves with studio time.
The seventh full-length release by Anaal Nathrakh finds them continuing to indulge in their way around black metal, thrash, and grindcore as they long have, and if surprises are few one gets the sense that the now veteran duo -- up to nearly 15 years of work by 2012 -- would regard that as secondary to the overall impact. If anything, they seem have found a sense of clarity amid the chaos at certain points -- by the time "To Spite the Face" comes along with the album's strongest individual song opening and an actual hummable riff, plus what could almost be (in context) something vaguely like power metal vocal acrobatics, it's the equivalent of a good deep breath after everything before it. (That this is immediately followed by "Todos Somos Humanos," with another killer introduction, a clear contrast between big and background riffs, and a stripped-down arrangement, seems even more appropriate, and had the whole album been like that the results would have been fascinating.