posted on 11/2006 By:
There is no doubt in my mind that Anaal Nathrakh is not only the most significant export from the UK since Napalm Death, but also one of the most towering figures in black metal as a whole. To hell with Cradle of Filth, THIS is UK black metal at its finest. Ever since The Codex Necro, I’ve been attentively following this band, awestruck with each success, waiting with anticipation to see what sort of infernal creations would spawn forth from such a prodigious musical force, and I have yet to be let down.
I’m relatively sure a good bit of fans weren’t entirely sure how to receive the band's new direction and were somewhat turned off by the relatively new, almost post-black metal direction Anaal Nathrakh has been championing since Domine Non Es Dignus, but rather than go soft or create a simple throwback album, Eschaton presses forward into some of the most morbid black metal this side of hell itself while still recapturing the initial grandeur and fervor that garnered them so much respect in the first place.
Vocalist Dave Hunt’s distinctive and diverse delivery adds an immeasurable amount of depth to the music with its unparalleled intensity, ranging from tortured shrieks and wails to pernicious snarls and visceral growls. Guitarist Mick Kenny’s instantly recognizable flair combines both the skin flaying aspects of grindcore with a heavily misanthropic tonality founded by his inexorably caustic black metal foundation. The unbridled chaotic explosion of sinister aggresion on cuts such as “Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes”, and specifically “The Destroying Angel”, and the sheer mechanized terror encapsulated in the feverish abrasiveness of “Waiting for the Barbarians” and “The Necrogeddon” are merely a portion of what makes the wall of sound maelstrom so damn frightening. “When the Lion Devours both the Dragon and the Child” showcases Anaal Nathrakh’s more experimental tendencies by focusing predominately on the darkly regal melodic aspects of their riffing, allowing a heavy reliance on clean vocals to carry the piece, while songs like “Between Shit and Piss we Are Born” and “Timewave Zero”, are the perfect juxtaposition of new and old. The powerful mix creates a devastating effect that creates a rabid fixation due to its extreme diversity and dynamic differentiation.
All the distinctive Anaal Nathrakh truisms are left completely intact here, but with enough of a progressive sensibility added throughout their music to continue pushing the envelope in that way only they can accomplish without letting their career descend into simple stagnation or a pathetic stylistic regurgitation. Anaal Nathrakh’s extensive use and mastery of contrast and tension is directly reminiscent of Emperor and their auspicious ability to do the same; captivate the listener with music that is equally complex and intelligible while never sacrificing the aesthetic extremity
The inclusion of Shane Embury and Danny Herrera of Napalm Death rounds out the lineup with a set of extremely well versed and distinctively accomplished musicians that absolutely expunges any possible points of weakness of musicianship in what can only be described as the aural equivalent of armageddon. My only gripe concerning Eschaton is while the body of the work is nothing short of utter grandeur, the closing track (“Regression To the Mean”) ends the album in this strange sort of off kilter superfluous repetition that rather than bring everything to a shattering climax, trails of timidly with no real sense of closure.
I’m sure that by now we’re all familiar with those who incessantly bitch and whine over how black metal has REALLY been dead since 1996 and how its such a pity that music actually happens to evolve over time instead of remaining insipidly stationary, but as long as the black metal torch is being passed to such promising modern acts like Anaal Nathrakh, the genre will continue strong and undaunted.
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