Mar 302011

No band I’ve yet heard is currently pushing the limits of extreme metal more extravagantly and more successfully than Anaal Nathrakh. However, I won’t say they’re blazing a trail into the territory where the future of metal will take root. Metal will have many futures, but I suspect few of those futures will unfold along the tortured path Anaal Nathrakh is blazing; there’s too much risk of injury. More reason to live in the present – this present.

Some metal bands specialize in hair-on-fire, grindcore mayhem, played at the speed of bullets. Some specialize in the delivery of compulsively headbang-able riffage, heavy on the chainsaw guitar cutting through the bone. Some bands use keyboard-driven anthems to propel their music to emotional heights of struggle, or defiance, or loss.

Some plant their flag in the territory of industrial metal, with blasts of cold rhythm and waves of chaotic electronic noise. And some bands leaven their metallic catharsis with bursts of melody, voiced by soaring clean vocals, head thrown back and all of body and mind concentrated in the delivery.

Anaal Nathrakh does all of this within almost every song on their new album Passion, and more besides. They dissect and segment and re-combine the elements of extreme metal in blazingly creative ways — but without fail, what they achieve is profoundly unsettling. It’s wondrous, but it’s almost unrelentingly disturbing. Passion is an expression of the “otherness” of extreme metal in one of its purest forms. (more after the jump . . .)

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