Birmingham has been for many years the spawning ground for some pretty amazing extreme Metal bands, none more so than Anaal Nathrakh. Concocting their unique blend of black Metal/grindcore since their first full release, 'Codex Necro' in 2001, 'Vanitas' (Vanity) is their seventh full length in eleven years and in this time the quality of their work has continued to grow significantly, despite this punishing level of output.
Musically, Anaal Nathrakh are the soundtrack for Armageddon, evil, hatred and violence in audio form and with 'Vanitas' we find it in its purest and most perfect form yet. Dave 'V.I.T.R.I.O.L' Hunt's vocals, always spectacular in their sheer range and even more so on this latest offering, range from almost operatic at one end of the scale to bloodcurdling screams and bowel churning growls at the other.
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Pretty much everything else is handled by Mick 'Irrumator' Kenny with the exception of some additional guitar from the late Steve Hurdle (ex Gorguts) and Dave Nassie (Bleeding Through) and additional vocals from Elena Vladi on 'Make Glorious The Embrace Of Saturn'.
The album opens powerfully with 'The Blood - Dimmed Tide', with the repeat chant of "Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus" (We Are Dust And Shadows). The audio onslaught starts here and there is little reprieve until the dying notes of the final track, 'A Metaphor For The Dead', my favourite track of the album. Slower in tempo with a beautiful yet sinister quality to it, Dave's vocals are at their most surprising and impressive in this track, which also cleverly incorporates a unique version of the aria 'Vesti La Giubba' from Leoncavallo's opera 'Pagliacci'. Caruso and Pavarotti never sounded this magnificently menacing. An outstanding end to the album.
In between these two sit eight more chunks of audio annihilation, each one a work of destructive excellence in its own right. 'Forging Towards The Sunset', which opens at a frantic tempo and with Dave's trademark scream, hideously anthem like, with the final extended scream distorting away to nothing.
The sinister, blackened and intense yet catchy 'To Spite The Face'.
Intense, right from the opening scream, 'Todos Somos Humanos' (We Are all Human), which has an almost exotic feel to the opening riffs, before they darken and take on a dirty aspect.
The intense, sinister opening of 'In Coelo Quies, Tout Finis Ici Bas' with its emotive guitar solo at the end.
'You Can't Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying' is another which challenges once again, the range of Dave's vocal skills and is catchy in its construct.
The compact and intense 'Make Glorious The Embrace Of Saturn'.
'Feeding The Beast' is slower, very sinister but equally as intense as some of the faster tracks and another one of my favourite tracks because of the complicated and sinister twists and turns to its construction and then the intense and soaring 'Of Fire, And Fucking Pigs'.
'Vanitas' is thirty eight minutes of face melting mayhem. Never has the soundtrack for Armageddon sounded so good.
Produced by Mick Kenny, 'Vanitas' is out now on Candlelight Records.