Released: 2016, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Anyone who feared Anaal Nathrakh might be going soft following 2014's comparatively listener-friendly – or at least less unfriendly – Desidaratum, rest easy. The dastardly duo of Mick Kenney and Dave Hunt, aka V.I.T.R.I.O.L. for good reason, are as, well, vitriolic and cacophonous as ever with their ninth album, The Whole Of The Law.
Sure, there are some clean choruses and horn-throwing hooks here and there, but not in the abundance that there was on Desidaratum where tracks like “The Joystream” were outright catchy. And as if to prove a point, the fellas do a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-like dismantling of Iron Maiden's “Powerslave” as a bonus track - which was included with the promo - that takes what was majestic and regal and turns it into something utterly cataclysmic. Given the blast-beat/double bass salvos, maniacal scream-and-sing vocals and wall of guitar churn, it's a deconstruction that rivals what Aborym did to “Hallowed Be Thy Name” on 2013's Dirty, though the lead break is here pretty spot on.
Then, of course, there's the likes of “We Will Fucking Kill You,” “Hold Your Children Close And Pray For Oblivion” and “So We Can Die Happy,” which signal their intentions by their titles alone – and provide the requisite ear-bleed melange of grinding blackened death metal, industrial/electronic histrionics and vented spleen. The band's aim here is to make it hurt, and for the most part they succeed in spades.
The Whole Of The Law has the all-consuming assaultiveness that Desidaratum sometimes veered away from – which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. It delivers a steady barrage of shrieks and growls (and even some King Diamond-like falsetto on “Extravaganza!”), thunderous riffing, rivet-gun programmed drums and clangorous samples and sound effects, and limits much of its catchiness to Hunt's intermittent clean choruses - though they just as often are offset by fiendish and sometimes terrifying caterwauling, a la Jekyll and Hyde, as on “In Flagrante Delicto.”
There really is little let up, or mercy, here. The band even take on the ska classic “Man At C&A” by The Specials as another bonus track and give it the apocalyptic treatment it deserves – and which gets the point across with much more authority. Other songs like “And You Will Beg For Our Secrets” offer some of the most ferocious and bombastic work Anaal Nathrakh have done, which is saying something.