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The following statement will make sense by the end of this review – Anaal Nathrakh are just in it for the money.
This is something that has been bothering me for quite some time now. When I say bothered, it’s not like I’m losing any sleep over a black metal band from the UK, but bothered every time I come across their name, or stumble on one of their tracks. I can’t help but feel let down.
Every single time they announce a new album, I’ll be thinking “Yes, this time. This time they’ll unleash hell” but each time I’m like a fat kid who just had his ice cream knocked out of his hand.
The problem with Anaal Nathrakh is that they are extremely predictable. Essentially, they’ve been making the exact same album since 2006. While the band has a high creative output which is to be admired, I personally prefer quality over quantity. I’m pretty sure that this is how they write songs now:
Make 5 folders on the computer and title them as such: intros, riffs, choruses, clean choruses, electronic parts. Then they take random sections out of random folders and throw them together. Seriously, having been in the game for 21 years now, you’d think they’d get more creative with their arranging, but nope. You know exactly what’s coming. You know exactly what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and how it’s going to happen.
Sigh. It’s really frustrating.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to hate on these guys, but it’s just so tedious now. Anaal Nathrakh isn’t actually making “new” music, they’re just making music to a formula which is so painfully obvious that it drives me insane. Hell, even the production and mix on the last 5 albums sound almost exactly the same. You can’t even tell what song is from what album anymore, it’s just a blur of notes and yelling. Yes sure the die hards and virgins who sit there all day thinking this is the greatest music ever could do a better job than me at naming their discography off of memory, but come the fuck on.
Anyway, the songs on this album are decent for what they are, some of them are even catchy. “Thus, Always, to Tyrants” is a highlight, but even there, it’s the same formula and arrangement – the only thing that stands out is the verse riff. The album does have some good riffs on it – all Nathrakh albums do – but as I said before, they’re very predictable. The chord structures and note selection is almost always the same, nothing pops out at you like “Hey look! I’m actually different”. I just wish they would branch out a bit more and incorporate some new chord structures.
The vocals are probably the only real highlight here – powerful and at times, even majestic. The Maiden-style vocal melodies are still present.
The drums sound exactly the same as they do on other AN albums. No surprises or excitement here unfortunately.
There are bands out there doing all sorts of ridiculous, risky things – Anaal Nathrakh is now just unfortunately tame in comparison. This is just not good enough, it’s not diverse enough, it’s not ballsy or risky enough. They’ve been playing it safe for years now and it’s really frustrating, because I know these guys have superior potential. You can tell just by listening to some of their ideas, but they are channeled in a very strange and safe way. Hell, there are pop artists out there taking more risks than Anaal Nathrakh when it comes to melodies and arrangements – just think about that for a minute. Those are your red flags to step up your game right there.
Which brings me back to my initial statement of the band just being in it for the money. I’m not saying that what they’re producing is not art because it is, but it’s just really safe, bland art. An artist should grow and push themselves over time. As they grow so should their music. If their music is not growing and is still stuck in 2006, then what does that tell you? Do I really want to be listening to a band that doesn’t grow at all in their career? Why should I listen to them if they are not growing and/or progressing? If you’re just going to make the same album time and time again with no variations, then perhaps it’s time to hang up the guitars. You know what this is like? When Metallica released Load and Reload. It’s like if they went on to release Re Reloaded, Re Re Reloaded, Re Re Re Reloaded, and then Re Re Re Re Re Reloaded. That’s essentially what Nathrakh are doing.
Only for the die hards. I’ll listen to the new one when it comes out, but just like a Hollywood blockbuster, I have no expectations at all anymore. Which is sad, Nathrakh are a band with great talent and potential. I just want them to push the bar and to get out of their comfort zone. Because if they don’t care about their art enough to change it up a little, then why should we?
Release date: October 2nd, 2020
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