Anaal Nathrakh have always been on the very edge of extremity, teetering on the brink of absolute annihilation and destruction. Their sound is imbued with total hatred for mankind, the world and all life and the two-piece push themselves ever further towards the threshold of utter desolation with Vanitas. How two people can make such harsh and deadly sounds between them is a mystery best left unsolved. Dave Hunt (vocals) and Mick Kenney (everything else) are a fearsome team, Hunt’s inhuman vocal style constantly shifting from intense and high-pitched screams to the occasional and often jarring clean style that Anaal Nathrakh incorporate into songs in order to throw you off entirely. It’s a technique that the band have used throughout their fourteen year career and one which adds a dimension of lethal humanity to their otherwise unrelenting approach to music.
Vanitas begins with “The Blood-Dimmed tide,” a track of such unparalleled anger that is over before you’ve quite had the chance to accept what happened. This is often the feeling evoked whilst listening to Anaal Nathrakh, their sheer speed and rage is captured perfectly via differing and opposing forces. “Forging Towards the Sunset” features furious and blasting (albeit programmed) drums countering sweetly with the clean pitch of Hunt’s voice, his pure lines bursting through otherwise decimating soundscapes and rushing towards a terrifyingly held thirty second screamed note. This is wrath in its most primal form and it continues into the industrial beats of "To Spite the Face" and it's electrically charged pace and onto the bizarrely melodic nature of "Todos Somos Humanos."
Anaal Nathrakh deftly mix aspects of grind, black metal and all-out noise fury to their sound and on “In Coelo Quies, Tout Finis Ici Bas” the duo also throw in a beautifully soaring guitar riff around their words of misanthropic terror. They’ve always been a band to be excited about – about what they’re going to do next and often even during one song there’s always an element of wonder as to how/why they are doing the things are happening. Whether that’s the processed beats that creep into “drum” lines or the melodic elements of “You Can’t Save Me So Stop Fucking Trying” or the gorgeously full tone of Hunt’s actual singing. Anaal Nathrakh are a curious listen and that’s exactly what makes them so appealing. Vanitas is frightening in its enraged nature, yet the band never let that overtake and constantly look to shift the focus of the song into new territory. There’s surprising moments throughout this record, and to mention them all would be to spoil the fun in encountering them.
Dissonant structures permeate “Feeding the Beast” and moments that wouldn’t be out of place on an 80s industrial record flow between a doomed wasteland of wretched proportions and extended instrumental passages. The closing tracks of Vanitas are as frenzied as the beginning, Anaal Nathrakh having lost none of their embedded spite during the course of the album and the finality of "A Metaphor for the Dead" writhes in a heated breath of deliverance. Vanitas is dangerous. Anaal Nathrakh are vital.
9.0 / 10
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