Saturday, February 2, 2013
The Serpent's Breath IV: Hell Is Empty And All The Devils Are Here
I grew to like Eschaton over the year and Anaal Nathrakh would gear up to release a new album. Hell Is Empty, And All The Devils Are Here was the result and at the time my mind was blown. I remember my excitement when I found this album in a bin at a record store along with some of their older material that I only had digital copies of. That was a good day.
This album was the first released through Kenney's label, Feto Records, and some people didn't find the production to be as strong as Eschaton's on Season Of Mist. I disagree and although the guitar was subdued in the mix, Dave Hunt was doing more experimentation with his vocals, and for once the drum machine sounded entirely legitimate.
Hell Is Empty is a monstrous album. Mister Hunt aka "V.I.T.R.I.O.L."'s vocals are all over the place: screeching bird cries, Barney Greenway-esque barks, black metal rasps, thick brutal death gutturals, and soaring cleans. "Screaming Of The Unborn" is the first track where you really feel like saying "Is this really still Anaal Nathrakh?" The black metal influence is still apparent, but they've fully taken on the more dense, death metal oriented riffing along with some classic d-beat aggression that I hadn't heard since The Codex Necro.
The choral hooks are still an engrossing aspect of the album. "Virus Bomb," "Shatter The Empyrean," and "Until The World Stops Turning" are all in the style, and although none reach say the greatness of the hooks on "When The Lion Devours Both Dragon And Child," they all sound more individual and less formulaic than those on Eschaton where they generally followed popular song structuring. Hell Is Empty isn't devoid of the typical verse-chorus-verse-etc. nonsense, but the fun is all in the variations on that formula.
The latter tracks on Hell Is Empty are all highlights in my opinion, starting with the wonderfully titled throat-destroyer "Genetic Noose." It's Hunt's most guttural track, and it really shows how talented he is. "Sanction Extremis (Kill Them All)" is perhaps my favorite Anaal Nathrakh track of all time, featuring some great chromatic riffing late in the track from Irrumator and a great build-up with a demented vocal bridge. It ends fittingly with repeated gutturals from Dave Hunt: "kill them all, kill them all, kill them all." The closer "Castigation And Betrayal" is the ONLY track I've heard by modern Anaal Nathrakh that matches the ferocity of The Codex Necro. Its blistering speed, bass blow-outs, frenzied "solo," and colossal vocal finish are all visceral and stunning. Definitely the peak of their style.
9.0 out of 10
1. Solifugae (Intro)
2. Der Hölle Rache Kocht In Meinem Herzen
3. Screaming Of The Unborn
4. Virus Bomb
5. The Final Absolution
6. Shatter The Empyrean
7. Lama Sabachthani
8. Until The World Stops Turning
9. Genetic Noose
10. Sanction Extremis (Kill Them All)
11. Castigation And Betrayal
Listen // Buy