Anaal Nathrakh, one of Birmingham’s finest. A studio only project that (with thanks to the late, great John Peel) grew a thirst for playing live, and did it extremely well, so much so that when Damnation Festival asked the fans who they wanted in 2014, Anaal Nathrakh were by far the most requested band by miles. Recently they have returned into the studio and put together yet another beast that would make the Devil wince, and we got the lucky opportunity to let our ears bleed from it.
The Whole of the Law is the 9th release, and it follows on the path of Vanitas and Desideratum well. The expected horrors start up with the eerie opener, and you know they are back. When the already familiar ‘Depravity Favours the Bold’ hits you, you could almost get thrown off by the choral additions to a wall of harsh, brutal ear abuse if not already expecting such an assault. ‘Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion’ brings the classic ear shattering vocal chainsaws of both Dave Hunt (V.I.T.R.I.O.L) and Mick Kenney (Irrumator) with some monster riffage, but ‘We Will Fucking Kill You’ that throws the curve ball, slower and seemingly much more industrial metal based than I anticipated, possibly the closest to radio friendly sounding track if they ever could have such a thing?
‘So We Can Die Happy’ is the perfect circle pit from hell track, very few moments to catch your breath, showcasing yet more impressive leads that just fit perfectly. Who the hell would not be happy with that?! ‘In Flagrante Delicto’ plays with the digital industrial sounds again, with a chorus that it a bastard to get out of your head once heard, but that along with ‘And You Will Beg for Our Secrets’ seems a bit like filler, good tracks, but just not really tracks with anything that stands out above the rest. ‘Extravaganza’ however has some very stand out points, great groove driven riffs, and Dave showcasing some falsetto moments. Something I don’t ever recall hearing on any previous Nathrakh or Benediction album or stage!
My personal favourite is the epic ‘On Being a Slave’, such intensity but with full of great momentous musical writing, both instrumental and vocally. It truly showcases how musically talented they are even to those that are not fans of music to such extremes as Anaal Nathrakh. While that was something special, ‘ The Great Spectator’ seemed to just play through without much notice in comparison. ‘Of Horror, and the Black Shawls’ brings some of the standard level aggression we expect and crave, all while including a glorious classic choral score behind. Now while that ends the new material, two more tracks with the Anaal Nathrakh devilish taint have been added, sounding so great, yet so wrong all at once, I just can’t put my finger on if I love of loathe them! Iron Maidens ‘Powerslave’ being the hardest to work out, The Specials ‘Man at C&A’ is a good cover, but never being a fan of the Specials, it doesn’t seem to do anything for me.
All in all, it’s a goliath, Anaal Nathrakh are definitely back, as loud and aggressive as ever. Maybe not their greatest album, but it is full of forbidden fruit. For those that prefer the earlier Anaal Nathrakh stuff, there isn’t too much for them to be blown away with, it certainly follows suit of the later releases, which again can be something that goes against it in the long run, but then when your writing is already loved for being so aggressive, and you can’t really get more aggressive than this, what can you do?
These guys have nothing to prove to anyone though, this is written by them and for the love of it, not to get good or bad reviews, or to cater for people’s opinions. It’s a damn fine thing to be able to put out what you want. Chances are most will love it just on that alone, and rightly so.