Even since they first crawled out of Hell well over a decade ago Anaal Nathrakh have been a fixture of UK Metal for me. Their début album The Codex Necro was, and is, a case study in malevolent, grim Black Metal writ large and hateful.
Since their raw but powerful Black Metal origins their style has changed over the years; still scathing Black Metal but with elements of Extreme Metal and with added heroic and very catchy cleans thrown in.
And this is how we find them on Desideratum. The cleans are still buried under fields of filth and the screamed vocals are still sharp enough to slice fingers off. The intensity is real and the rage is palpable. The singer’s voice continues to be one of Extreme Metal’s best and his performance on Desideratum is stunning.
The songs are always catchier than you would expect for a band like this and even the most extreme blasting sections remain memorable. It’s always been a gift of the band that they are able to unleash such acerbic, raging songs that nonetheless remain full of hooks and enough Blackened melodies to give you whiplash.
Anaal Nathrakh have always had a vaguely Industrial feel to some of their work, sometimes coming across as an aural portrait of urban decay. On Desideratum this is more apparent than ever and adds a further layer of darkened potentiality to their sound.
When they’re not going full out hyperblast there’s even, (whisper it), a slight Djent slant to the odd riff here and there this time. It shouldn’t work but it does.
Eight albums in and Anaal Nathrakh continue to impress. The songs are strong and their apocalypse is coming ever closer. And do you know one of the best things about this band? They don’t particularly sound like anyone else. In 2014 this is a major achievement.
Another triumph from this Blackened jewel in the crown of UK Metal. Desideratum is desideratum indeed.