The Whole of the Law
28th October 2016 – Metal Blade Records
01. The Nameless Dread
02. Depravity Favours the Bold
03. Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion
04. We Will Fucking Kill You
05. …So We Can Die Happy
06. In Flagrante Delicto
07. And You Will Beg for Our Secrets
09. On Being a Slave
10. The Great Spectator
11. Of Horror, and the Black Shawls
The vast unyielding weight of total oblivion falls upon you. A flaming, headlong charge into utter annihilation. Violence. Demons. Fire, blood, shit, and piss rain down from the sky.
Must be a new Anaal Nathrakh album.
The British duo have been around since 1999, releasing the kind of music that could quite possibly usher in the most violent endtimes imaginable. They practically wrote the codex on being total fucking necro, and since their 2001 debut have been offering up their own hybrid of black metal and grindcore, adding more industrial elements on later albums.
2009′s In the Constellaton of the Black Widow and its follow up Passion undoubtedly helped them draw a larger audience, and now five years and two albums later we see the release of their ninth long player The Whole of the Law.
Right away, The Whole of the Law lets you know what the score is. “The Nameless Dread” begins with gurgled ambience, followed by some humongous chords before kicking right into “Depravity Favours the Bold”, complete with apocalyptic choir arrangements.
Anaal Nathrakh favour a dense chaotic sound that is difficult to breach, but once you attune your ears and listen closely, you’ll start to discern wonderful melodies, riffs, and arrangements out of the filth – even some that come close to being uplifting. The end of “Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion” is the best example on this album: an almost a joyously tearful release from life into the sweet embrace of…well, oblivion.
And then there’s “And You Will Beg for Our Secrets”, which starts with seven seconds of ambient swell before launching into quite possibly the most intense song the band have ever put to record – and then they do it again in a slightly different context on closer “Of Horror, and the Black Shawls”. The rage is truly back, but it’s not the only sentiment; there are some really emotional moments on the album. “Of Horror…” has a lovely guitar solo passage to end it, in what might be the slowest tempo the band has ever played in. “The Great Spectator”, similarly, has an excellent solo, bringing tears of blood to the eyes of their listeners.
Vocalist Dave Hunt is an incredible talent; truly great and an underrated facet of Anaal Nathrakh’s sound. His screams, growls, and snarls are so varied that it sometimes seems like each song on the record has something slightly different from the others. The scream at the beginning of “And You Will Beg for Our Secrets” is a perfect illustration of his power – and that’s before even mentioning his cleans. Hunt manages to imbue his clean singing with an unhinged tone, sounding like a madman ranting about the coming darkness. On songs like “Extravaganza!” and “Hold Your Children Close” he lets the listener know that there is nothing that can save them.
Yet, let us not discount instrumentalist Mick Kenny’s craft. The drums are, of course, programmed as no human being could possibly play this unrelentingly for that period of time, but the patterns he programs go very well with the insane music written (live drummer St Evil clearly being some sort of unholy demon). Kenny’s guitar work is incredibly heavy and razor sharp. There are some metalcore influences, but it never feels like too much, and they are always cut with black and grind patterns that threaten to rip you in half. The most interesting addition to this album is the subtle choral arrangements, which add fantastic extra dimension to songs like “On Being a Slave” and “Depravity Favours the Bold”.
A mammoth wall of noise. Anaal Nathrakh have never really favoured music that needs dynamic range, preferring instead to blast away until your flesh is worn away – but there is depth here in the production which keeps it from getting too tiring on the ears. The way the choral sounds are kept to the back of the mix, as well as having vocals occasionally dancing in and out of the foreground really helps the overall feel of the album.
The Whole of the Law is one of the most unrelentingly vicious entries in Anaal Nathrakh’s long career. It has the unhinged element that was more prevalent in albums like Passion or In the Constellation of the Black Widow, and combines it with the precise, inhuman chill of Desideratum and Vanitas. It doesn’t necessarily deviate from their established formula, but it does perfect it. Songs like “Hold Your Children Close and Pray For Oblivion” “Extravaganza!” and “And You Will Beg For Our Secrets” are beautiful in the terror they invoke. This is a fantastic album, potentially the band’s best. Absolutely recommended.