Anaal_Nathrakh_Desideratum 01When I submitted last week’s Godflesh review for their awesome long-awaited comeback album, A World Lit Only By Fire, I had no idea that it would just be part one of a two-part special on British Two-Piece Bands Who Want To Watch The World Burn (or the BTPBWWTWTWB Movement, for short), and both, while effective, utilize radically different approaches to signal the end of the world as we know it. You see, while Godflesh trudged like an industrialized, streetcleaning behemoth on their newest, on Desideratum, fellow Birmingham industrialists Anaal Nathrakh prefer to take a quicker, colder method, calling forth demons from the pits of Hell, raining death and bodily fluids from the sky while dancing like Alessa’s dark soul in the infamous Christabella barbed wire scene near the end of Silent Hill amid all the chaos and bloodshed. Interested yet? Read on.

Lead-off instrumental “Acheronta Movebimus” is about as good a set-up for an album as it gets. Mick “Irrumator” Kenney’s trademark tremolo melodies are abundant, leading the charge among driving programmed drums, almost-but-not-quite djent guitars and bass, and samples calling for the horde to rain fire upon us all. And this song is the only bit of respite found, as from the aptly titled “Unleash” forward, it’s sheer blasting, grinding, barely-contained blackened lunacy. In other words, this is the Anaal Nathrakh we all know, love, fear, and above all, respect.

And speaking of lunacy, Dave “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” Hunt has outdone himself yet again, further cementing his reputation as one of the best extreme vocalists ever. I wonder how he can perform some of the most blood-curdling, eye-bulging, vein-bursting shrieks ever put to record without his larynx looking like a bowl of soggy shredded wheat cereal afterwards. His cleans, though, are what separates the duo from the pack, as Anaal Nathrakh is the only band I know of who go from sheer insanity to completely and utterly unhinged when Dave actually sings. His operatic voice lends serious batshit intensity to the album’s most accessible (yet still off-the-rails) track “Idol,” the atmospheric “Unleash,” and album standout “The One Thing Needful,” featuring one hell of an infectious pre-chorus tremolo section. In fact, for those who know me, I want this song played at my funeral to warn whoever your chosen deity is of my impending arrival. Yes, it’s that fucking incredible.

Anaal_Nathrakh_Desideratum 02

Production-wise, Desideratum is right in line with their last two albums, Vanitas and Passion, meaning it’s quite heavily brickwalled yet still discernible and enjoyable. Some will say it’s a bit too clean, and I can see why they would say that, but I can’t picture this album sounding any other way without losing any of their trademark insanity or clarity, or making it sound like sheer white noise. One thing I can say is that many of the songs share the same tempo throughout, causing a bit of bleeding into each other. With the exceptions of the aforementioned clean singing parts and some of the slower portions of songs (like the intro to “A Firm Foundation of Unyielding Despair” and parts of the incredible “The Joystream”) it all sounds like one song after a while. Thankfully, it’s one brutal, intense, absolutely fucking awesome song, but that and the production are what’s keeping me from scoring this higher.

Desideratum is a statement of malicious intent, a call-to-arms to rally the masses and bring forth armageddon. Anaal Nathrakh continue their brand of grinding merriment, sanity be damned, and they are taking your sorry ass with them. Submit, and revel in the insanity yet again.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Dates: EU: 2014.10.27 | NA: 10.28.2014

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  • This record ruuulez.

    • TheOriginalSteelDruhm

      JK JK, I’m out.

    • TheOriginalSteelDruhm

      No it’s not.

      • I’m going to beg to differ on your Disqus name,

      • Grymm

        YES, THEY ARE!!!

        Wait… what?

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Great review. It’s now on my “get this shit” list.

  • Excentric_1307

    I really want to love this but that DR 4 score means that it’s missing some of the impact that a solid low end would impart. It also sounds like the clean vocals get buried a bit, which I suppose could have been the intent. I’ll admit this is my first exposure to this band, so take that for what it is.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    *sigh* I really liked Vanitas but it would be oh so much better on the ears without the whole brickwalling deal.

    PS: Feels like beating a dead horse every time somebody posts something like that but it’s true, dammit.

    • Kronos

      I’m totally with you on this. As much as I like the songs on here, listening to this in one go is a huge mistake and the mastering really does a number on my enjoyment of this record.

      • It is really awful.

    • Realkman666

      Sounds like noise with some music sprinkled in there. Can’t even listen to the sample at a normal volume.

    • D3Seeker

      Yes, yes you are. The fact that the production didn’t get bashed in 90% of the review for once means = shut up and let me enjoy some music in my travels for more eargasms

      • André Snyde Lopes

        How was I impeding your enjoyment? I also enjoy AN but I’d enjoy them far more if the production was better. You can listen to white noise or One Direction for all I care.

        • D3Seeker

          It keeps getting brought ip, and despite how important it is there does come a point when it becomes annoying.

          Btw. I’ll take white noise over on direction any day ;)

  • sui

    Sweet. It seems an array of quality releases from some big names is approaching recently, this, Revocation and Decapitated.

  • Luke_22

    Another great album. I was late to the party with Anaal Nathrakh but it has been a pleasure backtracking through their catalog. This is another fine effort, and although the dynamic range is poor I also think they can get away with it more than most metal bands. Good review.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Great review of what seems like another winner from these two. “Vanitas” was awesome, and “…Black Widow” was easily one of the best black metal albums of the aughts. Hopefully a big, well-funded tour will accompany this album’s release, as the band slays live. Cool guys too. Instead of the usual stage banter, they actually asked the crowd about the Quebec separatist movement, among other things. Fans actually brought them so many beers onstage that they had to tell them to stop and just meet them at the bar after their set. 11/10 would see again.

    • Grymm

      “More of Fire Than Blood” = my anthem.

  • D3Seeker

    Another one for the hit list!

  • De2013

    Nice, a metal record with a sphere on the cover ;-)

    • Kronos

      I see our site has ruined album covers for you.

      • De2013

        Yes, and as a side effect of reading the site on an almost daily basis, I end up buying only albums with sphere-free album covers, like Amaranthe’s complete discography, which surprisingly has changed the way I enjoy my metal nowadays in a complete positive manner. So thank you for that.

        • Grymm

          We do what we can to help… I think.

        • Kronos

          Glad we could help. You sicko.


    Shit, I didn’t even now this existed! Very nice surprise.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Strange, to me this sounds way more brickwalled than the Fallujah record (which I think is excellent) even though its technically not. ‘Idols’ is a cracking tune I love the epic ending but its hard to listen to, which I don’t find with the Fallujah record…I’ll pass on this one

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    I must be the only one who really thinks Anaal Nathrakh has completely stagnated. I think Passion was their best album, I know a lot of AN fans disagree but it’s the standout for them being non-formulaic, and really going down the rabbit whole for new song ideas. Vanitas was so… safe by comparison I thought it was a massive let down. Hearing this obviously be more of the same is really saddening for me. Sure, they are always going to be one of the foremost heaviest bands on the planet, but it’s tiring how predictable they’ve become.

    • Alexandre Barata

      I agree that they don’t do anything new or groundbreaking for a long time. I disagree on their best album as that is obviously Domine Non Es Dignus…
      This said, I gotta buy this album, quickly

  • Guest

    I completely agree with this excellent review, but I would note additionally that it’s also their most melodic record to date, which I consider a good thing also it reinforces the “all the song are the same” vibe since there are less pure aggression tracks between the soaring ones.
    And yes, the complete brick-walling makes it quite an exhausting listen, regardless of the high quality of the music… When will they learn?

  • Antoine Roth

    I completely agree with this excellent review, but I would note additionally that it’s also their most melodic record to date, which I consider a good thing, although it reinforces the “all the song are the same” vibe since there are less pure aggression tracks between the soaring ones.

    And yes, the complete brick-walling makes it quite an exhausting listen, regardless of the high quality of the music… When will they learn?

  • Yegar

    Oh my freaking god. How did I miss this gem? The mastering sounds like total shit but good lord the content is just wonderful. HHRRNNNGGGG