Anaal Nathrakh – The Codex Necro (FETO re-issue)

So I just got my pre-ordered Codex Necro CD in the mail today from the UK.  This re-issue, put out by FETO records (run by co-owners Shane Embury and Mick Kenney) features the full remastered Codex Necro album, as well as the never before released demo, We Will Fucking Kill You, housed in new digipak packaging.  It's limited to 1000 copies, so you better hurry if you want one, these guys have built up quite the cult following.

My first impression upon tearing open the bubble mailer was a bit of disappointment.  The original multi-panel folding booklet is nowhere to be found; now all we get is a single panel digipak with no booklet.  The front cover is basically the same although a lot darker than either the original Mordgrimm press or the re-issue already put out by Earache a couple years back.  The back cover, and inside panel are also new, and fit in well with the new re-design.  I should mention I really dig the new font they used for the album title on the CD label; it looks fucking bad-ass. 

OK, so the re-package isn’t anything too special, but what about the content, is it worth it for people who already own this blasterpiece to get the extra demo tracks.  In a word, yes.  I haven’t heard any of these demo versions before (even though I had downloaded demo versions of some of these songs way back when Codex Necro originally came out on Mordgrimm) the ones on this disc are different, and they sound pretty bad ass.  In fact some of them are substantially different than the album versions and feature different riffs and different vocals.  Totally worth it for the Anaal Nathrakh fan.  The actual album itself sounded the same to me, although I have yet to do a comparison to my other versions on my good stereo (I just listened to it in the car on the way to work).

Now, I’d imagine at this point there are probably a lot of you out there that are thinking, OK, who the fuck is Anaal Nathrakh?  Why is he talking about 2 different re-issues of an album I’ve never heard of?

Anaal Nathrakh is an UK based, 2-man, black metal band.  Originally they were conceived as a studio only project and used a drum machine.  Later on they went on to do live performances (starting with their Peel Session in 2003, which fucking rules and is included on the Earache press of this album if you can still find it, I dunno).  The sound of Anaal Nathrakh can be summed up in one word: ARMAGEDDON!

There is no band that I have ever heard that fits that description better, and on The Codex Necro it applies especially well.  This is the bands rawest and most ferocious assault in their entire catalogue.  While later releases featured a lot more varied sounds and clean vocals (ala Emperor) this one is nothing but savage shrieking and demonic growling. 

All instrumentation is handled by Mick Kenny (originally under the pseudonym IRRUMATOR). The guitars on the album, while high in tone (in true black metal fashion) have the distortion cranked to 11 and are backed by an ultra distorted, deep bass guitar which gives the music an ultra heavy sound.  The drum machine, although programmed inhumanly fast (which works for the album’s cold, inhuman and industrial tinged feel) sounds pretty realistic and reminds me a lot of the drum sound from Mayhem’s classic De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas album.  The vocals are generally distorted as well, but V.I.T.R.I.O.L.’s shrieking and growling nevertheless so vicious you wonder how the guy even has vocal chords.  I’m amazed he didn’t suffer an aneurism during the recording session, but I’m sure he at the very least probably vomited blood for two weeks after a vocal shredding like that (oh yeah, they did a track entitled I Wish I Could Vomit Blood On You…  …People on a later album, so I guess that confirms that). The whole thing together forms a wall of sound I have yet to hear matched on any other album ever released.  No wonder the band chose to add in the more progressive elements on later releases, it would be impossible to top this album in terms of sheer savagery and evilness.

The demo tracks themselves (like the ones released on the Total Fucking Necro album) sound better than a lot of underground black metal, not to say that they aren’t raw as fuck, because they are.  Although they lack the power and intensity of the album tracks, they have a certain appeal to them in their own right because they make the music sound less in your face, but more atmospheric, and obscure; like they were recorded by mummified ghouls using a broken reel to reel recorder in a desolate graveyard in the middle of a nuclear winter.  You know, that sort of thing.  Or maybe you don’t.

The thing that makes Anaal Nathrakh so awesome though is that they never sacrifice song writing to make their music sound more “br00tal” or “kvlt” like some many other bands out there.  Every track on The Codex Necro is fucking killer, and this is the type of album you’ll want to listen to over and over (I mean I own three versions of the same album, that’s saying something!).