Record Swap: Anaal Nathrakh vs. Wülfhook

Heresy vs. melody. Grimy industrial black vs. power metal attack. The whole of the law vs. a wolf with a spear-saw.

Boss the Ross’ assignment:
Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of The Law (2016)

When I first brought up the idea of a Record Swap with Cybernetic Organism, I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. Was I going to get the deepest, dankest, darkest ambient project? Or would I be mechanically altered by the industrial metal machine? Turns out it was the latter, the album assignment: Anaal Nathrakh‘s latest offering The Whole of the Law. I had only heard the band’s name in passing, so their music was brand new to me and I was ready for anything, my account is as follows.

I stab play and I am greeted by maniacal laughter on a very eerie introduction track. Oh boy, this will be loads of fun! After the intro track is over is when the real horror begins, though. Evil operatic chorus samples intermix with the most ferocious, most anguished scream I have heard this year. Oh, and did I mention blast beats? Not your normal kind either they are superhuman speed, machine gun bass drum blasts that drill straight through my skull. At this point, I don’t know if I’ll make it out alive. I have a banshee’s wail ringing in my brain and a drill in both ears, but then something amazing happens. At the 00:57 mark on “Depravity Favors The Bold” an eloquent and melodic lead sits ever-so-lightly atop a slowed down drum beat. What is this magic? That doesn’t last too long however as I am then again pummeled into the dirt, yet again, by this industrial machine of a band. Luckily enough for me, salvation reaches out to me at 2 minutes and rescues my physical form from total death. The vocals are simply a god send. I can make it through the rest of this, no problem.

“Hold Your Children Close and Pray For Oblivion” starts and the band really starts to click with me. I haven’t listened to much industrial metal for a long time and even then I usually just jam entry-level bands like Ministry and Fear Factory, Anaal is a whole other beast though. The way they can bounce back and forth between complete chaos and melody is an exceptional feat! What is most impressive though, is how fluid their transitions are. Nothing seems abrupt, as there is always a well planned segue into each movement. The chorus of “Hold Your Children” is one of the album’s best examples of this technique and remains a favorite moment for me. As I start the next track, “We Will Fucking Kill You”, I am beginning to fully embrace the band’s message of hate, but this is when I start to notice the guitar tone. It was always there, but not quite at the forefront as heard here. It is just a little too “same” as I have heard on other albums. Now, this is completely personal preference, I just prefer my industrial metal riffs to sound like Demanufacture and not Genexus. The higher riffs sound fine to my ears, but the low ones just irk me ever so slightly. Perhaps this comes with the territory of extended range guitars, maybe it’s what they wanted them to sound like, just not my cup of tea. On the contrary, the solo from the same song is to die for! The tone and execution are blissful.

The next three songs are good examples of the continuous style Anaal Nathrakh developed with the beginning of this album and it is not until “Extravaganza!” that anything really changes. And boy does it change! We’re introduced with a fairly standard riff and guttural vocals but at the 00:54 mark Anaal Nathrakh’s vocalist goes above and beyond his duty to perform a chorus laden with an anguished, otherworldly falsetto performance. The best way I can describe this sound would be to quote President Waynecro from a discussion we had regarding this album when he stated “It sounds like King Diamond trying to escape from a box or something.” Initially, he meant that to be a negative statement, but due to my personal taste I can spin this positive. I was already astonished with the vocalist, but “Extravaganza!” blew my mind into tiny bits. And what does the band decide to do with those tiny bits? They stomp on them, mash them into a goo and leave me there to think about what I’ve done while they continue their tirade on humanity. “On Being A Slave” is possibly the strongest song on the album, it brings together the band’s defining elements of melody and pure chaos in a near 6 minute melting pot of awesomeness.

The album ends with two more bangers that keep up the energy as heard throughout this entire album. I’m quite amazed at how this album plays out and sounds during repeated listens. It took me a few tries to make it all the way through in one sitting, mainly due to time constraints, but once I did there was no turning back. The Whole of the Law is, hands down, an extraordinary album. Except for a few minor technical qualms I had with it, I can’t find any dealbreakers on this album and have enjoyed this experience thoroughly. Thanks Cybro giving me the opportunity to dissect this monstrous beast known as Anaal Nathrakh.

And the “Powerslave” cover tacked on as a bonus track? I dig it. –Ross T. Boss


Cyborg’s assignment:
Wülfhook – The Impaler (2015)

So typically in situations like this where a friend or colleague recommends a genre of music I usually avoid, I’ll always look for something about it to appreciate. Maybe there’s a a favorite film sample that opens the album, a killer bass tone I’ll try to emulate, or hey maybe the lyrics manage to connect with me on a deeply personal level (unlikely). Case in point: Boss’ recommendation of Wulfhook’s The Impaler. I had no idea what to expect. The cover art with its severed heads and pale purple looks like OSDM or tech-death, but no, this is fiery full-blooded POWER METAL.

Now it’s been a long while since I’ve non-ironically listened to power metal, so just for a reality check after I gave The Impaler a couple listens I shared the album with some friends who have listening tastes similar to mine. Our opinions were surprisingly on-target: on their own, Wulfhook’s riffs & musicianship are a blast. This is old-school heavy metal with classic galloping riffs, long stretches of double bass and timeless twin guitar melodies that everyone has liked, even juuust a little bit, at some point in their listening lifetime. The band has enough versatility and variety in their compositions that all the expected album highlights are present – a solid title track, mid-paced headbangers, a “dark” song or two and an album-closing cover of Van Halen‘s Atomic Punk. The album’s overall versatility is such that if you tweaked the production and tones in the right ways, say, by adding an HM-2, you could easily turn this into a Swedish melodeath album and hardly miss a beat. Let’s get a bit more into it.

Tracks like “Through The Darkness” and “Bridge Burner” make me yearn for a battle vest, a bonfire on a cold autumn night and an endless supply of cheap beer to facilitate hours of no-fucks-given headbanging. Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate influence shines through strongly in these riffs. “Samara’s Well” is a bit silly since The Ring came out over a decade ago (you missed the boat, dudes). “Eternal,” a fast-paced galloper and “Sacrifice,” a darker dirge are my favorites – both are very different songs in tempo and feel, but pairing them together makes for an effective latter half of the album. “Devil’s Harlot” has classic metal written all over it, with precise triplets driving the main verse like a well-oiled engine. None of these tracks will blow your mind with groundbreaking musical innovation, but they don’t need to – they simply need to invoke a specific time, place and attitude, which they do extremely well.

The big problem for me, however, lies in the vocals. Good lord, the vocals. I’ve never liked the soaring power metal falsetto, and this guy unfortunately uses it in extreme, off-putting excess. Credit: he can really nail those high notes. Criticism: he shouldn’t be doing it for every goddamned line of lyrics. With his vocal vibrato wavering like an unbalanced crab boat on a stormy Arctic sea, time after time and song after song there are points where his “AAAaaaAAAaaaAAAHHHH!” crescendo is purely filling up as much audio space as possible. And then in the very next line he’ll hit you again “AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!” with an even higher harmony behind it, sometimes not even singing a lyric, but just falsettoing as hard as possible. OH MY GOD FUCKING STOP ALREADY, SWEET HOLY SHIT I GET IT. Not every vowel needs to be an audition, dude. You’re taking away from the fun and memorability of each song with your extended edition vowel-howling.

To sum up: I actually found myself enjoying Wulfhook the band, but not Wulfhook the singer. Power and/or classic metal fans should find a lot to like here, and fans of heavier stuff may even enjoy it too if they can get past the vocal showboating (I couldn’t). Regardless, thanks to Boss T. Ross for the recommendation and playing along with the filth I sent him. –CyBro


Got an opinion on either album? Share in the comments below.

Written by:

Published on: November 10, 2016

Filled Under: Record Swap, Reviews

Views: 794

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  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Wulfhook rules, good live band, good people. Still need the new album. Anaal Nathrakh never really has done much for me. Program drums can fuck off anyway.

  • Óðinn

    It’s about time Boss the Ross got some “Anaal”.

    Sorry, Boss. Low hanging fruit.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Haha! Cybro! I’m glad you at least dug the Wulfhook music, personally I love the dude’s voice.

    This was a lot of fun.

  • I’ve been listening to that Anaal Nathrakh album all week, just insanity through the whole thing. Really, really good.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Yep, full tilt chaos. Love it.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      It was off outting at first, then I listened to it again. Then again. Then again. One more time and it had me.

      Initially I had planned a part talking about the lull in the middle of the album, but during my final listen while I was writing I couldn’t find it again.

      • GoatForest

        The Whole of the Law is my favorite album out this year, so far.

  • Waynecro

    I really enjoyed this episode of Record Swap. Thanks, dudes! Anaal Nathrakh is probably one of my favorite bands despite my general dislike of industrial stuff. AN’s combination of absolutely unhinged vocals, ferocity, bleakness, and melodies and harmonies that sound ominous rather than pretty just totally works for me.

    • You have discriminating taste, Waynecro. Not surprising.

      • Waynecro

        My taste is so discriminating that the American Civil Liberties Union wants to sue it. Zing!

        • I got nothing. That was perfect.

          • more beer

            You aren’t kidding. Hitting up a local show at Bar Bar tonight if you aren’t doing anything.

          • Bad time for me, unfortunately. Might be able to do something Saturday night, depends on if my buddy visiting town wants to be out late or not.

          • more beer

            I find out what is going on saturday and let you know.

          • Major Zim

            Wait, are you guys in Portland? There can’t be multiple Bar Bars!

          • more beer

            No Denver.

  • mother☆shabubu

    That Anaal Nathrakh album is so nasty. No dicks shall be left uncrvshed. Not one.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      RIP dicks

      • mother☆shabubu

        Be careful not to inhale the dicks, as they were crvshed into dust.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          You may literally choke on dicks

          • mother☆shabubu

            Sinus infections due to inhaling too much dick dust.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            “Pardon my frequent sneezing, there must be a lot of crushed dicks in here.”

          • mother☆shabubu

            When you blow your noise, it’s just weird, pinkish flesh-snot.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            “Man, this place is filthy. Every surface has an inch-thick layer of crushed dicks on it.”

  • tigeraid

    WULFHOOOOOOOOOOOOOK! HAIL!

    I do find myself being drawn in by the hateful blast beats of Anaal Nathrakh lately though, even though it’s not normally my cup of tea. Very angry. Helps keep politics at bay.

  • I tend to pass industrial thingies, but I can check this out for the CyBro.

    Wolfhook, on the other hand, have me interested. I will def check this out.

    Fine job, fine gentleman and fine robot.

  • Eliza

    I have never listened to Anaal Nathrakh before, and I’m more that surprised to say that they ended up as the band I liked more in this case. Not that I dislike Wülfhook, they’re good, but AN is so out there that I can’t help enjoying them just for that.

    • Joaquin Stick

      In with you. I was pretty sure it was not my style so I never gave it a real shot, but now I’m finally listening and it’s great!

    • CyberneticOrganism

      FUCK YEAH

  • YOU SPOKE THE WORDS!

    Wulfhook rules, they should add more falsetto next time

  • Joaquin Stick

    Just as a I read “AAAaaaAAAaaaAAAHHHH!” the singer belted out that exact thing and I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off. It’s a little much.

  • This site has the most entertaining articles of any metal site on the web.
    Good show lads.

    • Bookayasha TovH, you just made a sale on that new Anaal. (Having said that, the Powerslave cover will not be making it to the Zune with the rest of the album.)

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        But, but, but why not?

      • BOOYAKASHAAAA ACTIVATED!

      • Waynecro

        Your Zune may attempt suicide a few times as it acclimates to the utter hopelessness that AN’s music conveys.

        • I’ve been a fairweather fan since around 2008, and the album sounds fantastic. But re: the Iron Maiden cover, “Ño.”

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            But, but, but why?

          • That song is a 👍 (but read in Australian)

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            The song or the cover? Choose your answer wisely

          • Cover, COVER! Cause I love Powerslave (thanks for alerting me to that error)

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            You chose wisely.

          • Waynecro

            I didn’t even realize that song was an Iron Maiden cover initially.

          • I’ll let Randall Thor take care of you on this one.

          • Waynecro

            I’m going to taste steel and roast in dragon fire again, aren’t I?

      • CyberneticOrganism

        There was some odd issue with that song during the recording process; a computer broke down or it couldn’t be mixed in time or something like that. The album proper has more than enough brutality.

  • Dumpster Lung ᴰᵃᵐᵃᵍᵉ_ᴵⁿᶜ⁸⁹

    A good friend actually just sent me that Anaal Nakrath album yesterday. It was that same part in Depravity Favors the Bold that hooked me as well!

    I really like just about everything in Wulfhook except the vocals, too, although I don’t mind the falsetto. It does seem to come in at times it doesn’t necessarily need to. It’s more just the voice in general. Not that the dude isn’t super talented, it’s just got kind of a weird tone to it. It may be growing on me though, or it may just be the sweet ‘Maiden harmonies that are making up for it.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Sweet Maiden harmonies>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    • Ted Nü-Djent ™

      Sweet Maiden harmonies cure everything

      • Dumpster Lung ᴰᵃᵐᵃᵍᵉ_ᴵⁿᶜ⁸⁹

        They were certainly welcome on the newest Metallica song!

  • Count_Breznak

    The 2nd cover song was much better~~
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWJgvJlPFJs

  • Shakes 999

    Just heard of annal 4 days ago and I’ve had it on repeat ever since. It is hilarious in its insanity.

  • “falsettoing”
    You get all the points.

  • “… his vocal vibrato wavering like an unbalanced crab boat on a stormy Arctic sea.” Good lord that was funny.

    This was a great record swap. I’m glad you ended up liking- gonna make the joke again- Anaal, Boss! Welcome to yet another band that’s equal parts awesome and pretentious as fuck.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Anaal is pretentious?

      • There’s almost always some degree of pretentiousness when dealing with philosophy nerds.