Few records can claim to be as chaotic, as brutal, as violent, but at the same time remain as engaging, intriguing and, I dare say, even catchy as this. Anaal Nathrakh are an enigma, a band that can meld a grinding, blasting, shrieking nightmare of a verse with an epic, almost melodic chorus seemlessly. There are things here that, if heard separately, wouldn't seem to have come from the same song, some things you wouldn't normally expect from black metal or grind, yet it all fits together so well.
"Hell Is Empty" begins with an instrumental intro track named Solifugae, after a family of quite hideous and terrifying arachnids. This track serves its purpose well as an intro to what you are about to experience. Forboding and crushingly heavy, it is a song that oozes dreadful, brooding atmosphere, as if to say "The end is nigh!"
From there we are thrown directly into the maelstrom. The songs move with the chaos and destruction of a hurricane, a pure annihilating wave of violence, blasphemy and evil. They range in tempo from fast to lightspeed, though the occasional mid-paced section will appear now and then. The composition and instrumentation are largely built around a blackened and thrash-tinged grind pattern, though virtuosity isn't ignored here and the riffs often take on an epic or catchy sound. The drumming is excellent for programmed stuff. Look out for the use of a machinegun in the song "Until The World Stops Turning."
The vocal work on "Hell is Empty", handled by the appropriately named V.I.T.R.I.O.L is quite varied for such a brutal album. They include high-pitched, fanatic screams, slow grumbles, death growls and clean chants. Unfortunately, the lyrics are unavailable, so I cannot rate them, though what I can make out of the clean sung sections seems very well written.
If you are a fan of grind, black, death or extreme metal in general, this album is a modern essential. If you want unbridled ferocity, you'll love "Hell Is Empty, And All The Devils Are Here.
Guests on this album:
Joe Horvath (Circle of Dead Children)
Dirty Von Donovan (Exploder) - vocals
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) – bass
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