Anaal Nathrakh
Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here

Despite really not being a pure black metal act any more, Anaal Nathrakh’s hideous transformation into a more refined but still seething black/death/grind outfit still sees the band delivering some of the most vitriolic and intense yet intelligent extremity around.

Where Eschaton had the clean tones of Domine Non Es Dignus, it still reverted to the blistering guitar tone of The Codex Necro and now Hell Is Empty now sees the band sway back to the cleaner sheen, of Domine and further expanding the bands grind/death metal side, though with no less scathing results.

With less Mayhem and a far more tangible Napalm Death (Shane Embury once again fill in on bass) and even The Berzerker presence, the more robotic, mechanical production and pacing is still filled with injections of often incomprehensible fury. Dave Hunt again delivers more of his Ihsahn-ish chorus croons amid his truly schizophrenic vocals and Mike Kenny is almost programmed like accuracy and intensity behind the kit.

Musically though, Anaal Nathrakh is one if the few bands that can evolve and develop without losing their underlying savagery. Even with the cleaner tones, clean sung choruses and even hints of melody or death metal/grindcore blunt force trauma (i.e. “Virus Bomb”, “The Final Absolution”, “Shatter the Empyrean”, “Lama Sabachthani”), the apocalyptic intensity of tracks like “Screaming of the Unborn”, “Sanction Extremis (Kill Them All)” and arguably the most intense track the band has penned, closer “Castigation and Betrayal” (which sounds like a lost track from The Codex Necro sessions), still show the ‘thrakh simply choose their moments when to rip your face off and do it unlike no other band out there. The thing is they seem to be doing it less and less with each album, and a tiny part of me predicts and almost full on …And Oceans-like industrial/cyber transformation in a couple of albums or so.

Ultimately Hell is Empty… is a still a top notch, end of year best-like album. However, I will admit I preferred Eschaton, as even with the choruses of Hell is Empty…, none of them hit me quite like “Between Shit and Piss We Are Born” or “When the Lion Devours Both Dragon and Child” and it had that nasty sheen left over from The Codex Necro whereas Hell is Empty has more Domine Non on it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
November 26th, 2007


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