Anaal Nathrakh



Reviewed By Michael O'Brien
Published 11 May, 2011
Link: Myspace Page

A side of the band that I was hoping desperately to hear

There was a time not that long ago that I considered myself a pretty big fan of Anaal Nathrakh and the duo’s caustic and wholly vehement approach to grinding black metal but, with 2009’s In the Constellation of the Black Widow, my devotion to the band wavered. When taken completely out of context it was a fine album and fit comfortably within the band’s catalogue but when viewed within the context of their more contemporary output (roughly starting from 2006’s Eschaton but hinted at on 2004’s Domine Non Es Dignus) what it signified was a band stuck in a rut that was seemingly content to chase extremity over reinvention or even innovation; they’d found their sound and were sticking to it essentially. Two years have passed since Constellation and, roughly sticking with convention, Anaal Nathrakh are back with their sixth full length studio album, Passion, and I’m happy to report that there is just enough variation this time around to bring this jaded fan back into the fold.

With the exception of the admittedly unexpected short introduction to the opening track, Volenti Non Fit Iniuria, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Passion is yet another violent yet predictable affair for Anaal Nathrakh but, as the album moves on, it becomes clear that there is more to the story than is initially apparent. While the band clearly has not abandoned their well-entrenched violent sound (and, really, who would want them to?) they have also taken the time to work on the more melodic aspect of their arsenal and it can be seen throughout the album’s modest running time. Tracks like Drug-Fucking Abomination and Who Thinks of the Executioner? demonstrate a sense of melody that has been sorely lacking from the band’s artistic lexicon for some time now while the slower and grinding Ashes Screaming Silence with its clever use of backing “vocals” towards the mid-point of the song illustrates that the band isn’t just about blasting the face off of their listeners but do actually have the ability to move around within their musical prism.

Even though Passion’s running time is consistent with the band’s modus operandi (clocking in at about 36 minutes) the album does feel a little short. Having spun the album well over a dozen times now I still get a little surprised when I reach the end but, conversely, I doubt it would’ve been a wise move for the band to expand the length much further because they seem to operate much more effectively as a short burst of fury rather than as an instrument of a drawn out bludgeoning.

When I wrote my review for Anaal Nathrakh’s previous album I questioned their ability to pursue a familiar sound while still moving themselves forward. The band has answered that question with an album that retains everything that is great about the musical niche they have carved for themselves while also making solid in-roads into expanding the areas that I personally feel have been lacking and I can’t tell you how happy it has made me.

While my devotion may have temporarily faltered, listening to Passion reminds me of the first time I had my mind blown by Anaal Nathrakh and it’s an awesome feeling.

(Candlelight Records)

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