Grab a bib and ready yourself as this is exactly what ANAAL NATHRAKH set out to do with their latest full-length. However, something tastes a bit different. V.I.T.R.I.O.L. and Irrumator’s disgorge this time around tastes slightly more crunchy and solid. Rather than spewing uncontrollably AN have seemed to refined their sound and evolved into a more satisfying and disgusting substance.
“Domine Non Es Dignus” is Latin for “The master is not worthy.” Huh? What this amounts to is anyone’s guess as it has been well established that AN will not be publishing their lyrics anytime soon. As mysterious as the climate and atmosphere surrounding ANAAL NATHRAKH is, the music has perpetuated into a murky depth of equal mystery as these maniacs have thrown several curve-balls our way and have manifested a new depth to their dreadful compositions.
Long-time fans of ANAAL NATHRAKH will already know these guys have come a long way in their sound. The chaotic song structures and lack of melody present on the “Total Fucking Necro” demo could not prepare the listener for what he would come to experience with AN’s first full-length, “The Codex Necro.” The industrial-tinged chaos on that record took the UK Black Metal scene by storm and spread ripples throughout the world as the ‘THRAKH’s material began to spread. The chaotic essence of their music was a semblance of BURZUM, DARKTHRONE, MAYHEM and IMMORTAL all rolled into one gigantic landmine just waiting to be stepped on and recognized as it tears your body apart. What drew many (including this reviewer) to this band was that unrelenting speed and chaos which was unique and intriguing in its own right. What ANAAL NATHRAKH have done with their latest release is take their chaotic sound to new heights, organizing their feral ability and providing us with an album that possesses a vision and focus previously missing from this band.
As soon as that terrifying riff kicks in on the initial track one can readily recognize this is a different AN. Don’t get me wrong, the chaos and carnage is still running rampant like a tiger escaped from the Zoo throughout the compositions but we are greeted with a sense of maturity. The riffs and leads flowing from Irrumator’s fingers bring about a sense of dread which jabs at its listener like a well-sharpened blade, rather than bludgeoning to death as was previously experienced on “The Codex Necro.” You can actually discern the riffs and pick them out with far less work than on the previous effort along with the screeching guitar-solos (which sound like a Kerry King on speed). When given room to breathe, the riffs actually come to life with renewed vitality and it actually begins to feel like these guys are youngsters freshly getting involved in the black metal scene and at the peak of their creativity. It is also worth noting the drum-machine this time around sounds far-less like plastic and synthesized and overall just blends much better with AN’s sound, reducing the industrial feeling and revitalizing with a more organic lethality.
No chinks are immediately discernable in this well articulated armor…oh wait a second. What the hell is that? in to “Do Not Speak” something amazing happens. No, that’s not Ihsahn, but that is definitely clean vocals. It seems the blade of the lawn-mower that is ANAAL NATHRAKH has seemed to…stop. I stick my hand in to see what’s wrong when, “My God, NOOO, ARGGGGHHH” Kicking back up with ferocity moments later, slicing my arm clean off, the terrifying machine lets out a roar. God these guys just don’t let up.
Seriously though, V.I.T.R.I.O.L.’s vocals this time around have peaked. His range as always is absolutely astounding, hitting us with vicious snarls and screeches as we’re accustomed to one minute and then reaching down into the pits of hell to summon a deep guttural growl the next. As you can gather from my previous comment, the new clean vocals do sound very much like something off of “IX Equilibrium” or “Prometheus” from EMPEROR but provide a new and interesting spark which no one could have predicted. If you would told me a year ago that ANAAL NATHRAKH would utilize clean vocals on their next album I’d laugh it off and expect “Domine Non Es Dignus” to be one of the biggest let-downs of 2004. Unfortunately I was sadly mistaken and actually enjoy V.I.T.R.I.O.L.’s work more than Ihsahn (as I dodge a tomato). It truly allows an epic feeling to sink into the music as well as your soul.
The two stand-out tracks on this album are “Procreation of the Wretched” which features a killer main riff and “The Final Destruction of Dignity” which is fierce and utterly catchy (try not to sing along with that chorus). While this release has turned off a couple of older fans that I have talked to I believe it to be a much stronger effort than “The Codex Necro” and bears focus and maturity. I have not heard a band evolve in such a manner and actually avoid falling into a rut which alienates their original fans except perhaps Poland’s BEHEMOTH or UK’s NAPALM DEATH. AN still possesses bite, it’s just a matter of whether you’re willing to bare your flesh…(Online March 30, 2005)