There is the old mantra – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are plenty of bands that apply this mantra successfully, others not quite so. The beauty of Birmingham duo Anaal Nathrakh (named after the incantation from Merlin in the film ‘Excalibur’) is you know exactly what you’re going to get, yet at the same time their grinding blackened noise throws up enough curveballs to keep everything fresh and innovative despite not deviating from their core sound.
‘Endarkenment’ is their 11th full length in their 21-year career to date – and instead of becoming grumpy old men in slippers they carry their rage over into one of metal’s most intense and unforgiving outfits. The thing that sets them apart from their peers is of course vocalist Dave Hunt (AKA VITRIOL) and his soaring vocal melodies which on paper shouldn’t work in extreme metal but Nathrakh are not your average extreme metal band.
‘Libidinous (A Pig With Cocks In Its Eyes)’ and ‘The Age Of Starlight Ends’ are typical Nathrakh ragers – pummelling drum machine beats, screeches, guttural growling and screams that would make King Diamond blush, with some stellar lead work from maestro 6 stringer Mick Kenny. Listen carefully below the thundering blast beats and you can hear subtle melodies reminiscent of Dimmu Borgir and other premier league black metal acts but the symphonic noise is as unrelenting throughout the rest of this 10 track affair.
‘Feeding The Death Machine’ starts off with a Gothenburg melo-death style riff akin to early Dark Tranquillity, before another of Hunt’s trademark choruses. Intensity is the key here, just like every other Nathrakh album, but holding the listener’s attention over the ten tracks is what makes them special. Tracks like ‘Create Art, Though The World May Perish’ demonstrate just why their formula works so well and also showcases that Hunt is maybe one of the most underrated metal vocalists also. Closing track ‘Requiem’ even finds room for an acoustic passage and full on metal shredding.
Fans of Nathrakh will no doubt lap this up, any newcomers to their wall of noise will either fall into one of two camps: either run off terrified, yearning for the comfort of their Alter Bridge albums or discovering one of their potentially new favourite bands. ‘Endarkenment’ is a blackened joy to behold from start to finish and one of the best things about it is being safe in the knowledge that its successor will either be as good as, if not better, than this album. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
ANAAL NATHRAKH – Endarkenment is out now via Metal Blade
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