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4.5 out of 5 skulls
December 4, 2012 | ,

Anaal Nathrakh Vanitas

Anaal Nathrakh’s 2009 release, In the Constellation of the Black Widow, was a phenomenal album that was easily one of the most violent sounding releases that had ever invaded my ear hole at the time. Unfortunately, the duo of Mick Kenney and Vitrol (of Benediction fame) couldn’t quite match the passion and urgency on it’s follow-up, ironically titled Passion. Well, I’m hear to inform you that any misgivings you had about this malevolent combination continuing down that path are unfounded and pulverised into dust.

Vanitas is the album that Passion should have been and thankfully, it is such an aural invasion that one can’t help but forget all about that.. uh… other record… what was I talking about. Oh yeah, Anaal Nathrakh are back at the helm of this chaotic, industrial tinged, blackened living nightmare with their ninth studio album. Vanitas is just as violent as Constellation but may be even more unhinged and chaotic. The mass of black metal, industrial mayhem, electronic influences and, of course, Vitriol’s vocal destruction (both natural and production affected) that this album packs into a manageable 38 minutes will keep you on edge and dizzied for the duration.

The albums first two tracks, “The Blood-Dimmed Tide” and “Forging Towards the Sunset” stick to the formula that has made the duo a force to reckon with. Each track is violently delivered, layered with an amazing amount of drum work, industrial noise, massive riffs and VITRIOL’s screams, squeel and cleanly sun passages. Now, that all being said, these two songs are more of the same. The songs have a renewed urgency and energy to them that sounds like a natural progression from previous material. I can see why these guys lead off with these two particular songs — they are some of the more violent and impressive tracks on an album full of them.

“Todos Somos Humanos” carries a much heavier industrial and electronic influence than in past material while VITRIOL flies all over the place vocally. For as violent and deliberate as these guys are, I think they’ve learned to vary their tempos some to keep the listener more engaged. This maturity has already been heard a little on the previous tracks, but really comes out nicely in “In Coelo Quies, Tout Finis Ici Bas.” “You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying” has a noticeable lack of black metal to it which, oddly enough, works really well in the band’s favor.

The closing pair of songs, “Of Fire, and Fucking Pigs” and “a Metaphor for the Dead” appear to be the only two on the album that lack any sort of industrial influence. The former is blackened to a crisp as the melancholy guitars shift quickly into a series of catchy, hooky riffs as the screams arrive. More traditional in sound, it’s a nice break from the blasting electronic influences that have infected my brain at this point. The last song on Vanitas is a bit more atmospheric to start off before jumping into an epic presentation of riffs and vocal work. It’s a hell of a song to end the album on.

When all is said and done, Anaal Nathrakh have done more than just make up for a last album that didn’t go over so well — they’ve re-established themselves as the top dog of blackened, industrial mayhem. If there wasn’t so much of an electronic influence prevalent throughout the album, this fucker would have gotten a perfect score of 5 out of 5 from me. As it stands, it’s still skull fucking it’s way through my stereo right now.

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