Once it seemed unlikely, if not impossible, that Great Britain would ever bless/curse the world with a truly formidable black metal band -- no thanks, Cradle of Filth -- but the duo known as Anaal Nathrakh immediately began making a case to the contrary with 2001's landmark The Codex Necro debut, and they've rarely disappointed since. 2011's Passion falls pretty much in line with that trend, but it also explores new ways to alter and expand Anaal Nathrakh's already improbably vast vocabulary for all things excessive, driven as always by the positively nightmarish visions of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Mick Kenney (aka Irrumator). Both his compositional and instrumental capabilities receive frighteningly stunning showcases in the album's first pair of miniaturized, industrial black metal mini-symphonies: the majestically hellacious "Volenti Non Fit Iniuria," and the spectacularly titled "Drug-F**king Abomination," which doesn't even break a blastbeat sweat until it's had three minutes to build a Baroquely-appointed stage it can then torch to the ground. Later on, minute-long murder sprees like "Post-Traumatic Stress Euphoria" and "Locus of Damnation" leave no room for subtlety or compassion, but, right there along with them, vocalist Dave Hunt (aka V.I.T.R.I.O.L.) persists on imprinting his controversial, histrionic clean singing all over the likes of "Le Diabolique Est L'ami du Simple" and "Paragon Pariah," to the eternal, eye-clawing horror of more stubborn constituents in the black metal audience. Even these holdouts will have a hard time resisting the especially awe-inspiring "Tod Huetet Uebel," though, which ignites on a classic, high-speed Norwegian black metal riff-web à la Emperor, then builds in intensity, layer after chaotic instrumental layer, and is capped with hysterical, spine-shivering shrieking from Irrumator. Like Passion‘s other best moments, the song goes over like a snuff film scored by Ennio Morricone (sorry about the association, Mr. Morricone), and that's a twisted view of the sensible universe that only lunatic geniuses like those behind Anaal Nathrakh could possibly implant into unsuspecting minds and smashed eardrums. Give them credit: they're still freaking folks out after ten years.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia