Sound: Arrrg, I feel really dirty after listening to this. Anaal Nathrakh are the band to look to if you want the definition of 'extreme'. Any other band you might have thought as the heaviest/fastest/'most br00talist' thing you've ever heard, prepare to eat your own disbelief.
Anaal Nathrakh is the secondary brainchild of two very messed up individuals. All the instruments are handled by Mick Kenney (aka Irrumator), perhaps best known for co-running FETO records with Shane Embury of Napalm Death and for being a member in deceased sludge/grind band Mistress. Mistress is relevant here because both members of AN founded Mistress at the same time as AN. And yet, Mistress don't even get close on the scale.
Anaal Nathrakh have a distinguishable sound that mixes grindcore, death metal and black metal into one angry, raging ball of misanthropy. Saying all these words doesn't do the sound any justice, you have to listen to it full on to understand why this is the most extreme band in today's metal. But for those who already know Anaal Nathrakh, this album is nothing particularly new.
Especially when compared to their previous release (Constellation of the Black Widow), 'Passion' is just a continuation of their sound. As simple as statement it might be, this band is based on simplicity itself: The guitar riffs are predictable yet somehow sound really really good when tempo'd up to oblivion, the drumming doesn't deviate much from blast beats and occasional grooves for a particularly epic chorus and the production is one of anathema to music producers (huge, highly compressed yet also highly unpolished and literally just one huge clusterf--k, for lack of a better word).
But these things work in AN's favour, as the goal is to be as unrelenting as possible. The production makes the entire sound hugely chaotic yet also gives it its own strange clarity. The riffs are straight to the point and all out demonic or melodic when they need to be without having to go off into shreds and fills to take up space. The drumming is.. the word 'intense' doesn't quite do justice.
If the rapture had happened on Saturday, this would have been the soundtrack to the movie. // 8
Lyrics: Mike Kenney handles the instruments. On the other end we have Dave Hunt, aka Dave Cunt/VITRIOL. I wont beat about the bush: His vocal chords rip holes in space and time.
But then again, on first listen, most of the vocals are disorganised, uncontrolled and unstructured RAAAA RAAA RAAAA's and this isn't just a generalisation: Every vocal line is either a wordless scream or a distorted and strained undecipherable bark that has no lyrical meaning.
But running against that is the other side to his vocal talents which are the clean vocals. Yes, clean vocals. Dark, psuedo-opera vocals that soar over everything during a particularly well timed chorus, layered to hell with harmonic vocal tracks and offering very very brief moments of sanity before having your senses ground to dust. This is one of AN's distinct traits, being the most extreme in nearly all aspects of metal.
Lyrics are something to perhaps not take notice of for Anaal Nathrakh. Mainly because the lyrics are never released by the band. Also because, being the most chaotic metal band, you can probably guess that its not going to be about sunshine and boiled sweeties. // 8
Overall Impression: Well despite keeping well within their own sound and still keeping the gates of hell open, Anaal Nathrakh haven't progressed much at all as a band with 'Passion'. This is easy to spot because once you've reached the extremes of anything, there's not really anywhere else to go.
That said, I still stand by what I said in the beginning: Whatever band you thought as the heaviest, fastest, 'br00talist' thing you have ever heard, listen to this and you will never be the same. And they say English metal is dead...
Songs to look out for: 'Drug-F--king Abomination' (if you get bored by long intros, skip to 2:04, then listen onwards), 'Post-Traumatic Stress Euphoria', 'Le Diabolique Est L'ami Du Simple' (the 'softest' track, mostly because the clean vocals are in the beginning'), 'Locust of damnation' (really filthy blackened grindcore', 'Tod Huetet Uebel', 'Paragon Pariah', 'Who Thinks of the Executioner?' (breakdown heaven), 'Ashes Screaming Silence'. // 7