Anaal Nathrakh // Passion
Rating: 4.0/5.0 —Hooo… lyyyyyy… FUUUUCK!
Label: Candlelight [US | EU]
Release Dates: EU: 2011.05.23 | US: o5.17.2011

Anaal Nathrakh - PassionSo this is one of those bands that I really know nothing about. Back when I started reviewing I got the record Constellation of the Black Widow and I remember thinking it was pretty good, but it was a few months old at that time and so I never did a review of it. But in a world full of shitty black metal that bores me to tears by being repetitive and uninteresting, Anaal Nathrakh definitely appeared to be ahead of the game by, actually, not boring me to tears. I was reasonably interested to get around to reviewing Passion when I got it a while ago, but what with my busy schedule and everything I’d hardly even gotten around to listening to it until lately. And let me say, I’m impressed.

I’ll treat this as a crash course for n00bs, since I’m definitely one. Having launched in 2001, Passion is Anaal Nathrakh‘s 8th full length record. Hailing from England, these guys supposedly blend black metal with grindcore and industrial influences. And while I guess that might be true, I have different impressions of what it is the band is actually doing. In any case, when you’re releasing a barn burner of an album like Passion for your 8th record, you must be doing something right and these two dudes, V.I.T.R.I.O.L. who does vocals and Irrumator who does the guitars, bass and programming, appear to be really putting together engaging and chaotic black metal.

Anaal Nathrakh 2011I use the word “chaotic,” and I think that’s the best adjective to really describe this record. While it’s not off the wall or sporadic, the heavily distorted vocals of VITRIOL, which go between Corporate Death (Macabre) style shrieking screams and Emperor-era clean vocals from Ihsahn, give a feeling of barely contained insanity seething through every track. Musically the backing to this insanity is razor sharp riffing, programmed blasting drums that add to the chaotic feel, and some minor industrial influences. These guys have been around for 10 years and the scene has grown a lot since they came out, so it’s not like what they’re doing is exactly hyper ground breaking, I’m sure the long time fan would be able to dig through this record and point out where the band is citing themselves, for example.

Where this record differentiates itself from the modern, or even Norwegian scene that it arguably cites, is that the tracks aren’t nearly as epic and there isn’t a sense of pretentiousness that comes along with listening to modern black metal. Aside from “Drug-Fucking Abomination,” this record is filled with pretty short songs, some even as short as a minute long, fitting far more into the grind category than the Wolves in the Throne Room style mold, and that makes it remarkably refreshing to listen to. Fast, heavy, chaotic and not craving patience, just your unbridled rage and all those chaotic feelings that are kept under the skin. This is tremendously successful.

Still, I can’t help but feel like this record isn’t a blend of older Emperor with some more industrial style influences and grind. While the vocals are unhinged, the writing doesn’t follow suit, it’s pretty much par for the course. So it doesn’t exactly push Anaal Nathrakh into the “doing lots of new shit!” and “too damn much for you!” categories. But in my book that’s entirely OK. This record clocks in at 36 minutes and it’s a kick in the face with amazing riffs, great songwriting and some dynamic vocals that sound like they were contributed taking a mic into your local insane asylum, and that will make you uneasy and make your living partners look at you strangely. What more can we ask for? Not too much.

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  • Shaid

    Eschaton still gets regular loud play in the house of this Cranky Metal Bastard and When Fire Rains Down From the Sky, Mankind Will Reap as It Has Sown (or WFRDFTSMWRAIHS for short…) is great when things aren’t noisy enough.

    If you manage get a break from listening to much-anticipated but ultimately unimpressive releases from 2011, you should give ’em a spin.

  • Krauzer

    Hoooo. Lyyyyy. FUUUCK indeed… I’ve never really heard anaal nathrakh until now.. but it’s really different in a nice way.. it’s like unbridled chaos, but with actual structure, like restraint insanity.. and that is basically achieved by the vocals who are very well used, really emotional and raw with a nice melodic tone (at times anyway..) great review man

  • so, Anaal Nathrakh is black metal for you. that is the first joke of the day. nevertheless, a good review.

    • Well, they do sound like Emperor to me. So. Yeah. I’d say black metal, aesthetically if nothing else.

      • no dude, I do not agree that they sound like Emperor at all. anyways, to each his own.

  • Kvltrafn

    @Itihas : you are funny . What did you just smoke ?

    • it’s been a while since I did that. come over if you have some.

  • What would metal be without silly hairsplitting? Been listening to them from the Codex Necro days. Always classified them as BM w/ a side order of whatever the hell they felt like throwing in.

  • CcC

    i’d been lookin’ forward to this was worth waiting for but like you said,can’t be a masterpiece as i believe “In Constellation …” was.yea,it’s totally heavier but wait…is that it all?

  • I believe this is one of those bands who are hardly understood. As there are many and more experimental bands out there it gets easier to disqualify one and go to the next one.

    I recommend to these people to have another listen to the album ’cause it’s great. It’s raw, it’s crushing, it has a lot of color in the vocals, you can feel in hell and have a little joy of clean sound with this heavy style. I can feel the rush in the speed, the crush and the passion there is in these songs. It’s just an extreme-industrial-black-grind goodness. Indeed this is a step forward to the previous albums. Just really listen it.