Relentless anarchic nihilistic violence spews from the bowels of Anaal Nathrakh once more as eighth album, and first for Metal Blade, Desideratum continues the bands legacy in fine style. Very few bands are this consistent over so many albums, but the fire rages deep and wild in Irrumator (Mick Kenney) and V.I.T.R.I.O.L (Dave Hunt), as the Black Country pair return with another lesson in pure musical ferocity.
Starting out as a black metal band, but one that sought to leave the second-wave behind by inflicting a vat of putrid filth on a dying scene, as Anaal Nathrakh have mutated chronologically and musically, the infiltration of industrial hostility and the development of Hunt’s cleaner vocals alongside his possessed throat-ripping for effect and choruses has seen a refinement of their sound. But this refinement hasn’t led to any sacrificing of intensity at the altar of progression; Desideratum, with its khold (sic) black metal motifs, down-tuned riffing, scatter-gun percussion, pseudo-anthemic choruses and sonic gargantuanism, hurtles with the dedicated purpose of a killing machine.
An interesting development to their sound sees a proliferation of frost-bitten blackened metal lines decorate various tracks, particularly on early pair ‘Unleash’ (a very appropriately titled first track proper) and ‘Monstrum In Animo’, tributes to Dissection, and the achievement of the vision Mayhem had on A Grand Declaration Of War (Necropolis) meshed with the revelation of what Fear Factory could have become.
The trick that Anaal master more than most is that this isn’t mindless raging at the dying of the light, theirs is not the beserker, but more and more they are demonstrating an exquisite ability to balance unadulterated extremity with a melodic touch (just a touch, mind) as with calculated intent they cleverly build layers and subtle touches to their barbarism, all with an eye firmly on the current, the modern, the relevant, such as the tar-thick contemporary riffing of the title track. Arriving halfway through the album ‘A Firm Foundation Of Unyielding Despair’ sounds like the bastard mutant offspring of the most intense of Slipknot and Satyricon.
Variety and quality are prevalent throughout; ‘Sub Specie Aeterni (Of Maggots and Humanity)’ is punk as fuck and venomous, before ‘The Joystream’ descends in a cascade of black metal, breakdowns, Goth/Industrial samples and splutters and a strong chorus, with a melancholic Katatoni(a)c lead, a softening kiss in a maelstrom. Yet even then, the intensity shows no sign of letting up, make no mistake, as, on Desideratum, Anaal Nathrakh have realized the beautifully disgusting union of extremity and massive back-splitting, carcass-gutting hooks.
The lion has long since devoured both dragon and child, but has now outgrown the underground and is ready to overwhelm the universe.