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Anaal Nathrakh: When Fire Rains Down from the Sky, Mankind will Reap as it Has Sown and Hell is Empty, and all the Devils are Here

Metal Blade continues its reissuing of earlier work by Anaal Nathrakh with new editions of the band’s first EP and their fourth full-length album. As with the last two reissues, both of these are available as CDs or as various limited-edition vinyl. There are no bonus tracks on either release, but the production and sound quality are terrific. The music is pretty great, too.

For many listeners, When Fire Rains Down from the Sky is either a step forward for the band or its just what the band had left after The Necro Codex. I’m one of the former. Not only does the band sound better on this release, but they give their work a little more overall depth and variety. The band was always dark and nihilistic, but they think through their themes in ways I typically find fascinating. Since the band tends not to publish their lyrics, interpretations of their music have to rely on one’s experience with the music. Some words can be made out, but most are not clear at all. I tend to approach the band through song titles and through the audio clips that they often use.

On this release, the band appears to be contemplating the damage human beings have done in ways that are both harrowing and apocalyptic. It would be fascinating to know what kinds of books or movies or political antics these songs in the first place. The band is as thoughtful as they are fierce, and I always assume there’s a deliberate purpose behind everything they do. For me, this EP is a dark reflection on the idea of an end and how the worst in us brings out the worst in the world. Particularly powerful is “Never Fucking Again” because of the way it references the insistence the phrase “Never Again” as it applies to mass genocide like the Holocaust. Equally powerful was “Atavism,” a song that appears to be dwelling on the problem of human behavior stemming from the basest impulses. Things end with the equally dark and brutal title track, a reminder that it’s hard for things to turn out well when they haven’t been treated well. This is an excellent release.

The band’s fourth album, Hell is Empty and all the Devils are Here takes its title from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but it also brings to mind the tagline of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Both suggest the horrors of a world that is so dark and troubled that we are surrounded by trouble on every front. Those who heard this album when it first appeared were taken aback by the band’s occasional use of clean vocals, but there’s no use complaining about it. The clean vocals are mostly just as harrowing (and scary) as the rough ones, and they give the band a little more expressive possibility. Some bands play the clean vocal card too quickly or they use them too much. When extreme metal bands do this, we sometimes say they are being experimental. But this album is more expressive than experimental. It’s also a little more death metal than industrial metal, but what’s the use of labels with a band like this? The minute you think one works, the band forces you to choose another.

This is another excellent release from Anaal Nathrakh, but it’s also a great way to discover the band if you’ve never listened to them before. It captures the power and menace of the earlier albums, but it also has a little more heft and power than some of what came before. Listening to this album is also a great way to discover what Anaal Nathrakh continues to do so well.

The highlights on this album are “Screaming of the Unborn,” “Lama Sabacthani,” “Genetic Noose,” and the closer “Castigation and Betrayal.” Of the tracks with clean vocals, I thought “Shatter the Empyrean” worked the best, especially as things build toward the end. Both of these reissues are essential listening if you like extreme metal.

Track Listing: When Fire Rains Down from the Sky, Mankind will Reap as it Has Sown
1. Cataclysmic Nihilism
2. How the Angels Fly In (We Can Never Be Forgiven)
3. Never Fucking Again
4. Genesis of the Antichrist
5. Atavism
6. When Fire Rains Down from the Sky, Mankind will Reap as it Has Sown
7. Human, All too Fucking Human

Track Listing: Hell is Empty, and all the Devils are Here
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

Added: July 17th 2021
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Bandcamp Page
Hits: 609
Language: english

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