Being late to the party doesn’t necessarily equate to the party being over and done with. In fact, your late arrival not only gives it life, but you get to hear about all of the crazy shit that went down before your ass finally decided to make an appearance.
In the realm of Metal, I feel like I’m that tardy party-goer a lot.
Segue to the latest brainstorm by England’s two-man wrecking crew, ANAAL NATHRAKH. Modestly and appropriately entitled “Passion,” said two-syllable album name is part divine suffering and part raw emotion. This dichotomy in physical and mental intensity runs through the midst of non-stop double-bass patterns, demonic screeches, and undulating sonic blasts of righteous Blackened Grindcore; a dynamic splicing that ultimately blends into something ferociously and spiritually desperate.
Seeing as how this is my initial venture into the highly-praised discography of ANAAL NATHRAKH, one need take this review as an unbiased account of what subjectively succeeds for the reviewer. I was aware that they were some extreme blend of Metal genres, assumably Black and then something else, but I really was ill-prepared for the near ceaseless energy that exudes rapaciously from the wonderfully inviting opener “Volenti Non Fit Iniuria,” and continues to careen and level throughout the album’s entirety.
Although the revelation of programmed drumming was a little disappointing (as was the news that ANAAL NATHRAKH rarely play live), it was perhaps more so a surprise due to the drumming’s visceral and organic sound. The devastating bass rhythms and rolls are fluidly involved, and on no occasion sounding mechanical. In spite of the hyper-chaos circulating within “Passion,” I also out found it surprising and a tad distracting that clean vocals, so emphatic that they border on a shade of Power, are intermittently heard. Initially out of place in steam-engine songs like “Paragon Pariah,” after a few listens, this contrast in vocal register adds logic to a truly schizophrenic album. The growling and screeching vocals, many of which are of the most grating variety, fuse the frantic with the wild, and, from time to time, nearly resemble the emotionally insane shrieks from a certain cartoon Chihuahua by the name of Ren (“Tod Heutet Uebel”).
Other notable surprises with “Passion” include the excellent production value, its progressive arrangements, and its bloody and chunky bottom end. The album surges, trudges, bangs, and ignites into explosions of undulated mayhem; senselessly monstrous tracks like “Drug-Fucking Abomination” and “Ashes Screaming Silence” are two stalwart examples. While the guitars slice and punch and the drums rattle uncontrollably, ANAAL NATHRAKH also do a splendidly eerie job of filling all space with terrifying background noise that varies from beastly purring and chortling to apocalyptic static din. The way that the closer “Portrait of the Artist” fades out only to blend seamlessly with the start of the album is a noteworthy trait that exemplifies the inexorable ferocity (and entertainment) of “Passion.”
As successful a room-clearer as it is a poisonous slab of Blackened Grind, “Passion” may not be an easy listen or your typical Metalhead’s steaming cup of joe, but goddamn if it isn’t one hell of an album. Memorable, impressive, and startlingly aggressive, ANAAL NATHRAKH are stomping all opposition with their "Passion."
(Online May 7, 2011)