HELL IS EMPTY AND ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, the fourth full-length from British industrial black/death metal group Anaal Nathrakh is an improvement over the slightly disappointing ESCHATON, despite not changing the sound much. With a band so committed to head-down sonic destruction, evolution is incremental at best. Napalm Death's Shane Embury, an ally of the core duo for several years at this point, plays bass on a few tracks, but the primary instrumental contributions are by Mick Kenny, while Dave Hunt performs the vocals, assisted here and there by guests (on this album, Circle of Dead Children's Joe Horvath and Exploder's Dirty Von Donovan). This is a more precise, death metal and grindcore-inspired version of Anaal Nathrakh, moving ever further away from black metal. The high-pitched belt-sander guitar riffs of black metal show up from time to time, but there's a lot of downtuned riffing and thunderous double bass drumming as well, plus the usual electronic noise, aptly chosen samples and howling storms overtaking the mix and turning everything into a ferocious blast of raw hostility. The riffs on songs like "Until the World Stops Turning" and "Virus Bomb," even as they roar past at 1,000 bpm, are almost catchy, in an extreme metal sort of way. One could even imagine singing along with the chorus of the latter track, as it approaches a Dimmu Borgir-like accessibility. Anaal Nathrakh's single-mindedness must always be respected, without failing to acknowledge that some albums are better than others. This is their best effort since THE CODEX NECRO.