Anaal Nathrakh - The Whole Of The Law - (8.5/10)
Published on February 8, 2017
Needing little to no introduction, the ignorantly heavy Anaal Nathrakh have been unleashing their brand of industrial black metal since 1999 after forming in England. The duo has remained pretty consistent, both by being in the band since its inception and in releasing a slew of material. While not up to, say Nunslaughter in terms of physical releases, the last 18 years or so have seen the band have a couple of demos and EP’s but mostly focus on their full-length releases. Generally considered a band with a strong back catalogue, there were some that were not as pleased with the band’s increased focus on electronics on their last release, although it felt refreshing to hear the band incorporate this into their approach. Two years later though, the duo from Birmingham is back with their ninth full-length, The Whole Of The Law, out on Metal Blade Records.
After the initial intro to the album, the first “proper” track starts things off in perfect Anaal manner: heavy and chaotic. The intensity of the band has certainly not let us over the years, and the band is still able to create some very loud and very intense industrial tinged and grind influenced black metal. The drums pound away seemingly non-stop, but do slow down from time to time to create more of a groove in some of the choruses and just provide a generally nice rhythm and beat to some tracks. The guitars are sharp and noisy, creating some interesting riffs, but sometimes falling victim to the other elements in the bands sound and can get drowned out and less discernible. They do compliment the programming and electronics well though, and really drive home the utter insanity the band is able to deliver. There are even a few very well played, tasteful solos on the album which are a nice addition and allow the guitar to take some extra emphasis.
The programming/key and electronics are still in play on this new record, at times being able to create some nice atmosphere (like the opening intro track) or adding in some nice noise to begin or just add to some of the tracks. Feedback and some pulsating beats do not detract from the album at all, and the overall use of the electronics feels lessened than the prior release. However, there is indeed a big focus on the clean vocals. Nearly each track features some clean vocal section, which come in a more operatic and “epic” style, similar to the last release and in general more power metal styles almost. The vocals are usually left to chorus sections on the release and are generally welcome, as they do add a nice little extra element to the sound and allow the pummeling from the music to be broken up a tad and allow the listener some safety for their ears. Despite the heavier use of clean vocals, they still don’t come across as formulaic or even predictable. Each track utilizes them well enough that they still feel new each time around and the back and forth between the harsh and clean vocals is quite impressive.
Anaal Nathrakh don’t spend too much time making people wait for new material. Being able to release an album every couple of years or so is not exactly unique by any means, but some bands do fail in this regard, with music feeling rushed or just half-hearted. Anaal are able to still showcase their talents each time out and feel refreshed and ready to do what they do album in and album out. Obviously there is set sound you can expect from this band, and they will not be releasing a folk album anytime soon, but this duo never feels as if they are out of ideas. The Whole Of The Law should please fans of the older material as well as the last album, and possibly introduce new fans to their brand of metal. Anaal Nathrakh seem to always be firing on all cylinders and it shows here with each spin.