Essential Black Metal Listening: ANAAL NATHRAKH The Codex Necro
Anaal Nathrakh have been around. Though you can pin down their sound by slapping a bunch of labels on them, the truth is that it doesn’t fucking matter. Not for a minute, not for a second. “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever” is the most worthy summary you’re likely to ever come by. The band is tied in with the like of grindcore, industrial and black metal nowadays, but their 1998 roots hold strong to black metal.
It wasn’t until 2001 that The Codex Necro saw the light of day. Releases like the mighty De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas or Under the Sign of Hell will continue to remind us that black metal has often had extremism and destruction on the mind. Anaal Nathrakh stepped up on that. Stepped up with a hydrogen bomb and unleashed one of the most savage pieces the genre has seen. The Codex Necro is one of the ultimate exercise in unhinged, unbridled, nihilistic violence.
Anaal Nathrakh are like black metal’s own Agoraphobic Nosebleed. The drum are programed with decimation on the mind. And when The Codex Necro opens up with “The Supreme Necrotic Audnance”, there’s no room for anything but the blackest, bleakest soundscape. The humming, machine-like moan in the background that follows the song stirs the uneasiness, and never relents throughout. The band’s harsh distortion is as trademarked here as it is in later albums.
“When Humanity is Cancer” (really, when isn’t this species a fucking cancer?) continues down the path the album has already set out. Only now the industrial qualities are only more evident. Anaal Nathrakh have never shaken their industrial edge, and for good reason. The band has always sounded like a grinding machine but on The Codex Necro, they lack the grindcore qualities they later came into. Turn on “Submission is for the Weak”. Pure, unadulterated black metal with a catchy lead and one of V.I.T.R.I.O.L.’s most iconic lines: “Die on your knees!”
So what makes this album important to black metal? As has already been stated, it’s not just a black metal record. The Codex Necro falls more comfortably into the industrial black metal subsection. But the album is fucking savage. Listening to Norwegian, Swedish or even American black metal — really, black metal from any other country — won’t prepare you for this offering. Anaal Nathrakh is simply unrelenting here, and on every following release. As an offering to black metal, it’s got some of the most insane blasting, and skin peeling songs written. Don’t believe me? The iconic, and arguably one of Anaal Nathrakh’s finest tracks, “Pandemonic Hyperblast” would like to have a word with your ear drums.
The Codex Necro lends to black metal in upping the intensity ante. Purists might shy away from it since it isn’t from Nordic lands or whatever the fuck, but Anaal Nathrakh craved their own path here. And with that they also put U.K. black metal on the map. Predating this, there wasn’t much to speak of in the U.K. The Codex Necro showed that the country had teeth and claws to back it up, even though few have ever come close to truly creating the frothing madness that V.I.T.R.I.O.L. and Irrumator put forth. It’s an album that belongs in everyone’s extreme music collection.
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