REVIEW: ANAAL NATHRAKH – “The Whole Of The Law”
Remember the old cliche of needing a cigarette after great sex? Go out and buy a pack before you listen to this album, because it’s a fucking ride. Anaal Nathrakh is well known for putting out some of the most extreme, intense, and flat out insane music around. They’ve found a way to make some of the most viscerally terrifying music catchy as all hell and I genuinely love what this band puts out. Now two years after ‘Desideratum’, ‘The Whole Of The Law’ is a new twist on their signature sound. It definitely feels a lot more aggressive than ‘Desideratum’ and they even managed to hit a more dynamic range of clean vocals. The album feels a lot more substantial and powerful than the last, with the production on this record sounding absolutely colossal.
The way the album starts off is pretty classic Nathrakh, with “The Nameless Dread” a creepy audio sample over a slower, doomy riff. I’m on board for it completely until we hit the intro for “Depravity Favors the Bold” and we slam into a wall of chanting choir voices then an explosion of guitars. It feels like two really good intros stacked on top of each other for a moment, until the guitars take you and you’re lost in the whirling frenzy. Up next is one of my favorite tracks, “Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion”, This song was aptly named because it sounds like what hell might reign come oblivion; blinding rage, hatred, loathing put on blast with a sweet, surprising melody under it all just to keep you on your toes. All finished with the most perfect and disgusting, Travis Ryan-esque noise that I guarantee will have you making stupid faces as you sing along.
“…So We Can Die Happy” makes me so fucking happy; by far it’s my favorite track off the album. It’s the most unrelenting, soul crushing, heinous track I’ve heard in a long goddamn time. Imagine getting hit with a cattle prod straight in the heart and genitals at the same time, while someone screams at you with a megaphone. It’s over two minutes of face melting ferocity before any kind of break, then it’s into a blistering fast solo, and a filthy awesome groove that they snuck at the end. “Extravaganza” opens up with one of the catchiest grooves on the entire track. It also throws one of the biggest curve balls at you with the King Diamond style vocals. I’ve been listening to this album nonstop for a week now and I still have no idea how I actually feel about this track. The instrumentals are wicked catchy and heavy, but the vocals throw me for a loop. David Hunt is definitely showing off his range with this track and it’s crazy impressive how dynamic his voice really is. By far one of the most underrated vocalists in the metal world. The cleans on this track sound eerie and evil, but not Anaal Nathrakh type evil, so it sounds odd to me. “On Being A Slave” snaps you back into the chaotic reality they’ve created real quick. I really love the layered screams, guitars, and choir. It just gives that brick wall of sound smashing into your skull a little more texture which makes a world of difference. There is are brief synth/vocal breaks on “The Great Spectator” that also don’t sit well; they feel forced and out of place amongst all the chaos.
The two bonus tracks on this album are two previously and independently released singles, brought together for your convenience. First is a cover of “Powerslave” by Iron Maiden and the second “Man at C&A” by The Specials. I really liked the “Powerslave” cover, it sounded exactly like what I hoped an Anaal Nathrakh cover of Iron Maiden would sound like without being predictable.
The bottom line is, this ‘The Whole of The Law’ is a ferocious album that blew away all hopes and expectations. Without a single doubt one of the best records of the year, easily one of the most brutal, and definitely the most ferocious. This record sounds like what I’d imagine trying to drink from a firehose would feel like, if the water was also boiling. Anaal Nathrakh stepped it up again and only time will tell if the world is actually ready for what they’ve done. I’m pretty sure this music can actually get you jailed in the wrong parts of the world, so play it loud.