Monday, 10 December 2012

Anaal Nathrakh - Vanitas

Candlelight Records 2012
1.Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus 2.In Coelo Quies, Tout Finis Ici Bas
3.Todos Somos Humanos 4.You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying
5.To Spite The Face 6.Make Glorious The Embrace Of Saturn
7.Forging Towards The Sunset 8.Feeding The Beast
9.Of Fire, And Fucking Pigs 10.A Metaphor For The Dead
There was a real buzz surrounding Anaal Nathrakh's latest opus ‘Vanitas’, social media sites rife with theories and predictions. As ‘Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus’ opens up in typical Anaal fashion it’s fair to say that all the anticipation was well worth the wait. Blasting, snarling and oozing spite as only these boys can do. The production had definitely been cleaned up somewhat for this release, but this only adds to the appeal of the songs, the clinical guitar work and blasting drums really suiting  this cleaner sound, even giving the track (dare I say it) an even more black metal feel than many of the albums before this. The catchiness seen in ‘In Coelo Quies, Tout Finis Ici Bas’ is not something normally associated with Anaal Nathrakh, but there’s a real dose of melody added into the raging guitars which again give it a more ‘traditional black metal’ sound. The vocal delivery is especially catchy in the choruses, the now familiar cleanly sung vocals used extremely effectively especially when the snarled screaming vocals are added underneath as a back-up. Something only this band does, and does very well indeed. ‘Todos Somos Humanos’ begins life relatively slowly and melodically, but only for a very short section, before all hell once again breaks lose, the barrage of hyper-blasting intense black metal really pushing the boundaries. Melody is once again added to the riffs, and when the pace slows and the cleanly sung vocals re-introduced, its amazingly catchy, a real sense of foreboding being created in a hell storm of negativity. The song continues on the same catchy path until it draws to a conclusion, utterly brilliant! When ‘You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying’ comes to life, there is an extremely industrial feel to the opening section, particularly in the production of the drums. This is merely used as an intro however, the now familiar punishing and intense musical onslaught resumes. The industrial drums are re-introduced sporadically throughout the track and they do tend to sound slightly uncomfortable, not fitting in particularly well with the sonic barrage of hellish black metal that is Anaal’s musical style. Nonetheless, it shows a band experimenting and taking their sound and identity to even further extremes and boundaries, which ultimately should be applauded.
‘To Spite The Face’ begins in a more familiar fashion and yet again the band show just how adept they are writing utterly pummelling black metal which incorporates melody that actually pushes the extremity further rather than diluting it. Mixing the cleanly sung vocals with the tortured, scathing screams is genius; it works so well and is now the bands trademark sound. To prove that speed isn’t everything, the pace is slowed throughout a lot of this track with guitar solos used to add atmosphere. And they are actual solos, not just hyper fast walls of noise. As if to prove that last point perfectly, ‘Make Glorious The Embrace Of Saturn’ starts at a slower pace, sitting comfortably in the mid-paced territory and taking on almost anthemic feel. Apparently speed isn’t everything when it comes to blasting and grinding black metal, a point made well. As ‘Forging Towards The Sunset’ starts, the slower pace used in the two previous tracks is used to introduce the track, but this downturn in pace doesn’t last long, normal service is soon resumed and the blasting returns. It is however, very catchy; something which is normally quite hard to achieve, to be catchy and fast. Bands normally having to sacrifice one for the other, but here Anaal get it spot on, being both fast and catchy and once again laying waste to all in their path. ‘Feeding The Beast’ is a tortured and distressing song, grinding along at a snail’s pace with some absolutely schizophrenic and discordant riffs that give the song a crazed, manic like feel. When guitar harmonies and solos are introduced the atmosphere being created takes on a whole new feel, a real sense of brooding anticipation, as if something utterly distressing is about to be unleashed, but instead the torture continues, grinding away as it does until the track finally draws to a close, almost leaving the listener exhausted and drained, but actually wanting to hear more. In complete comparison, ‘Of Fire, And Fucking Pigs’ spews forth in an horrendous torrent of abuse and blasting black metal mastery, the pace upped to the absolute maximum, the guitars an absolute whirlwind but never sounding out of control…if anything this is as precise and ‘in control’ as the band have sounded so far and it is absolutely devastating with no let-up in sight, amazing! ‘A Metaphor For The Dead’ closes this album and has a slightly different feel to all of the previous tracks. The pace has once again been lowered to allow the qualities of the song to break lose. When the song drops out and the industrialised vocals take over the track alongside the clean singing I’m actually reminded of Dimmu Borgir, which may be sacrilege to many Anaal fans but personally it’s not a bad thing. The song really begins to build momentum as it starts to end, the guitar harmonies and solos are utterly captivating and create a meal melancholic atmosphere and is an excellent ending to this fantastic album. It’s fair to say that A.N have found something new in their song writing and seem to have found a new vigour and new enthusiasm for writing crazed and blasting black metal. There’s a real sense of purpose to this latest opus and we see some new elements introduced to the sound, which (for the most) work really well and enhance the torment being created. The cleaner production helps things along nicely as well with all elements clear in the mix. Although the pace has been slowed for a lot of this album, this is as devastating and dangerous and catchy as the band has sounded to date. It’s a truly vicious album that oozes pure quality as sees a band that has not only outdone themselves, but outdone everyone in the genre and produced an album of the highest order. Definitely at the top of their game, this is an album that if you do not own, you are missing out on an absolute masterpiece of punishing black metal. Quoting the band, "Anaal Nathrakh was created for one purpose - to be the soundtrack for armageddon, the audial essence of evil, hatred and violence, the true spirit of necro taken to its musical extremes" arguments here! As highly recommended as it gets, buy or die!
9.5 Out of 10

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