Even though the two main members of Anaal Nathrakh – Mick “Irrumator” Kenney, and vocalist Dave “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” Hunt – haven’t actually recorded in the same studio together for around ten years, the pair have still managed to spew more bitterness and agonized rage than can surely be healthy. With over 5,000 miles between them for latest album Endarkenment (Metal Blade), Kenney pushed buttons and twiddled knobs in his California studio, while Hunt recorded his vocals in far less sunny English climes, cathartically venting his spleen a few rooms down from where an S&M porn film was being shot. Continue reading
It’s another one of those typically cold, grey April evenings in central Birmingham. Slowly darkening skies, a distinct chill in the air, and a dense pall of doom hanging over The Asylum as it’s clear that first band Khost are already on as I arrive. Luckily, the band are only a couple of songs in, but the slowly gathering crowd are already enraptured by the duo’s atmospheric industrial grind. Continue reading
With song titles like ‘Mother of Satan’ and ‘Obscene as Cancer’ its easy to understand that an Anaal Nathrakh album is something that needs to be in your heavy metal rotation and A New Kind of Horror (Metal Blade) is worthy of that distinction. Continue reading
Anaal Nathrakh has announced plans to stream their sold-out London show live, this Saturday, 11 August 2018. We have the link for you below. The band will release their 10th full-length, A New Kind Of Horror, via Metal Blade Records in September. The new single, ‘Forward!’, can be streamed now as well as pre-orders of exclusive merch and bundles. Their tour kicks off tomorrow at Party San Open Air. Continue reading
Anaal Nathrakh has announced they will release their new album this fall. A New Kind Of Horror will release via their longtime label Metal Blade on September 28th. Vocalist Dave Hunt has commented on what to expect from the album. Continue reading
Exams. Phone calls with my Mum. Sitting in the waiting room at the Doctors. The middle section of The Two Towers (the book). Near Death Revelations (Agonia), third album of Polish black metal act Blaze of Perdition. And the Jeopardy answer is “Things that feel like they go on for a very fucking long time, Alex”. “Congratulations, you’re right!”
OK, so maybe being flippant with an album that has clearly had a lot of work poured into it (and an album that is very well produced and crafted) is harsher than a Dave Hunt vocal, but as lengthy song bleeds into similar sounding lengthy song, it begins to do your head in. When people say the same thing over and over, getting louder each time, you don’t listen more intently, or pay more attention, you become desensitized, and when you check the running order, expecting it to be approaching the end and you’re only halfway through and there’s still another 25 minutes (plus) to go, you know this isn’t an album that will be scooping up Album of the Year accreditations.
2011’s The Hierophant (Pagan Records) positioned Blaze of Perdition as an act who were prepared to challenge the established order of things, Near Death Revelations and its less-theatrical Carach Angrenisms is a regression despite the bludgeon, headbanging stabs and aggression worked into its progressive angles; ‘Cold Morning Fears’, for example, flails and smashes from the outset, like a frost-bitten Formulas Fatal To The Flesh (Earache) Morbid Angel halted in their tracks before making a Grand Declaration of War (Necropolis).
It does have to be said that Blaze of Perdition are a very proficient band, who deal in progressive, discordant bastardized (once was) black metal with a gritty quasi mechanized metallic bent, almost as if they are the realization (and extension) of what Gehenna were trying to do with Admiron Black (Moonfog). Credit is also due to their refusal to be destroyed by adversity, following the death of bassist Ikaroz and the severe injuries suffered by vocalist Sonnellion and drummer Vizun. However, Near Death Revelations is a (seemingly endless) repetition of the same new, same new; bashing your head against the same brick wall again and again until you become numbed to the sonic overload.
With the two members now living at different sides of the ocean, it seems this distance has not affected their ability to continue to produce great records. Latest album, Desideratum continues to prove that this duo is stronger than ever musically. While the move may have caused a few disruptions recently, Dave reveals how the band has come to embrace the distance.
“[No issues] whatsoever really, it’s a bit strange. We have had issues in the past where he wouldn’t be able to travel. He’s got a green card now so he’s fine living over there but there were some irritating times when we had to wait for bureaucracy to catch up with reality when we had to do some gigs. All of those are dealt with now finally, thankfully. Other than that, no. Skype, that’s real time communication with anyone in the world. That kind of thing makes it easy. I usually talk to Mick on Whatsapp on our phones, that’s no different to when he lived 2 miles up the road before he moved over there so the only times its an issue is when were playing live or when were recording. Times like that is an opportunity for a plane ride and to see some new places. Planes, it’s a small world really once you get on them, so no it doesn’t present many problems, its hardly any different.”
With a band like Anaal Nathrakh, it’s not just the music that dictates how a song will progress but the effect of the language itself. Not satisfied sticking solely to their native language, songs skip through a variety of different languages including Latin, French and German. It’s not just the source of the inspiration that informs these decisions as Dave Hunt goes on to explain:
“I think using other languages is interesting in a few different ways. First of all, another language has a different atmosphere to it. If you say ‘I’m going down the shops’ in Latin it will sound a lot less mundane, it will sound like it has gravity to it. If you say things in Latin, I think it has an atmosphere to it, and that goes for several other languages as well, the harshness to parts of German for example. Also sometimes when we’re using different languages its kind of a pointer to the inspiration for the song, the origins behind it. We had a song partly in French and partly in Latin and that was because it was taken from a book I was reading about a guy called Schopenhauer and that’s what he’d written down in his diary when he was about 14 or 15, sort of a nod to the origins of the phrase. I also think that language is interesting itself, ways of expressing things. I just like messing about with language.”
Language and lyrics may inform the sound of the album, but when it comes to the booklet they are not in the habit of releasing these lyrics in print, however one exception to this rule exists. Passion’s ‘Tod Huetet Uebel’ remains the only song throughout their discography with lyrics officially printed. While it may be tempting to hunt for deeper meaning, it really comes down to a solid respect for the other musicians they work with.
“We spoke to a guy who we got to do some guest singing on that album, we quite often use guests just to add a little bit of interest and to acknowledge that we’re fans of them. He actually is German, Rainer his name is. Before he would agree to do it he asked us to convince him that it was something he could get behind so I sent him a load of potential lyrics, not that he should necessarily use them because if were going to have a guest we want them to do what they want to do, but sort of what I had in mind for the song and the idea behind it. He then wrote some extra lyrics, used some of my original ones and then came up with this title he wanted to use. As we’d worked together on it in a way we wouldn’t normally do and because he quite liked the idea of publishing the lyrics that was the one time we put the lyrics in the booklet for the album.”
Choosing these fellow musicians also remains a very simple process. “We just think who would be cool, usually it’s someone whose music we are fans of in the first place. For example, we’ve had Shane from Napalm Death, played live actually at a festival for us back in our early days and Rainer who I just spoke about, we really liked some stuff he did with Bethlehem a few years ago and on the new album we’ve got Niklas Kvarforth (Shining). We just got to know him and had a good time talking to him, he was a fan of our band. It’s really its an organic choosing process as you can imagine really, we just think who we’d like ourselves and ask.”
Over 16 years since their conception, Birmingham duo Anaal Nathrakh would probably never have guessed that they would become one the largest names in extreme metal. 2014 has seen another big year for the band with a recent performance at Temples festival, a new signing with Metal Blade records and new album Desideratum. It seems there’s no stopping this band just yet.
While the guys may be known better by their real names these days, they began life with pseudonyms. Choosing to perform under the acronym V.I.T.R.I.O.L., Dave discusses where this unusual choice came into being. “It was meant to be two things. Obviously the bands really harsh and what I do in it is quite harsh even within the genre that we play so it’s an old term for sulfuric acid from the days of alchemy and stuff and that seems about right but I also had an interest in philosophy and the acronym stands for a Latin phrase about the philosophers stone so it was just to put a nod, only for our own benefit but a nod to an interest in philosophy, but basically acid. At the time it was the done thing for bands. It wasn’t that we wanted to copy but we toyed with the idea of being secret, of not telling anyone who we were. We didn’t stick with it in the end obviously but we toyed with it and having pseudonyms kept that possibility open. We weren’t sure what we wanted to do so we were hedging our bets I suppose. A lot of bands in the kind of music we were listening to at the time, they were only known by pseudonyms anyway. I mean, Darkthrone for example they don’t say ‘I was talking to Ted’, they use a pseudonym.”
From the original album The Codex Necro, to most recent work Desideratum, all works have strong influences running through from both literature and philosophy. While some may creep back into the work there is always something fresh to say with each album. “There are probably some recurrent themes, although you’d reflect differently on a given theme at a different time compared to another so it’s not really that we’re saying the same thing. Nihilism is one theme that runs through a lot of what we do, a sense that a lot of the received wisdom and ways of perceiving the world are meaningless, that’s in a lot of stuff. As a result of that there is a few illusions to stuff by Nietzsche, there was a song we did a few years ago now called ‘When the Dragon devours both Lion and Child’ and that’s a fairly direct reference to some stuff in Thus Spake Zarathustra. Really it’s a general interest in various things that crop up either in philosophy or in philosophically minded stuff, so were not a Nietzsche band or anything like that but it’s just philosophically informed.”
From lyrical interests to musical, variety is what informs every aspect of what Anaal Nathrakh creates. It’s not surprising then that their listening stretches far beyond the realms of metal, and even what is considered music itself. “We tend not to listen to most of the stuff that’s mainstream but things like Portal, in the terms of being notorious they’re a fairly newish band and I really enjoyed their last album and Deathspell Omega, I really liked their recent output so I don’t think were completely unimpressed by metal we just tend not to be beholden to it or obsessed by it. Stuff outside of metal; we’re both quite into various kinds of electronic music. I think Micks favorite album at the moment is by Broken Note which is all electronic and the new Aphex Twin album. It could be anything really, not long ago I bought a load of Chopin, Nocturne and Ballades played by this particularly gifted pianist. It could be literally anything and we’re not concerned with genre of music. We like sounds that we like and we like just sounds themselves. We’ve sat on the London underground giggling like schoolgirls because we were really enjoying the clattering noises. We like sound itself so we’re really not bothered by what kind of music we listen to, we just care if we like it.”
When it comes down to the basics however, a young love of extreme genres still dictates everything this band continues to produce. “We grew up listening to stuff like that, I mean Mick was listening to Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror when he was 11. When I was a kid I had an idea of a sound in my head and I was sure there must be music out there that sounded like it and I didn’t come across anything like it till a few years later and I picked up on the extreme end of metal. For all I say about not being obsessed with metal, we’re certainly fans of a lot of metal music and it just seemed natural for us to do things the way we did them. We’re big fans of certain old black metal albums and stuff like grindcore, Napalm and things like that and that was how it seemed appropriate. It also seemed appropriate to stick a few other influences in and that’s why you’ve got electronic music. Its got a metal basis because that’s what we grew up listening to and we had in common when we met but we’ll throw things into the mix that similarly reflects the fact that we listen to other things.”
Like many of their lyrics, the names of the albums carry significance, often very personal significance to the band. Recent release Desideratum continues this trend, carrying layers of meaning from both the word itself, and from the most personal experiences.
“It’s the kind of thing I could probably bore you with for ages and ages, but a lot of the world at the moment seems to be driven by wanting something. A desideratum is a word in English, it’s just a very uncommon word so it seems like its Latin, but it’s something that you want. Read that as anything you want really, there are lots of ways you can interpret the title. An example would be, I think the world in general is driven by want and wants recently have become more outlandish, I mean you can make of that what you will but that’s one idea in there. There was also a poem that my mum liked as a little kid called Desiderata, which is just the plural and that had a sense of peace, belonging and tranquility about it. I find that a very difficult idea now but it would be lovely to be able to feel that. Or another level, the word itself comes from Latin even if it is used in English and its desiderare, which basically means something along the lines of ‘to pull down a star’. I find that quite a compelling idea, first of all from a health and safety point of view, stars aren’t something you want to get too near to but also in a way getting what you want can be a destructive process. Obviously having got what you want, if you think about it, the star’s no longer there. It’s stuff like that. I don’t want to go on for hours and hours but there’s a lot of stuff wrapped up in that.”
As with all their albums, a myriad of influences runs through the lyrics, from art to current events, and even comments overheard on the bus…
“Obviously the theme of the title runs through a lot of things but there’s a mishmash of idea and inspirations involved. For example there was the Nichtze stuff that led to ‘Monstrum in Animo’ and there’s a piece called a Freemans Worship, you can find that on the internet its written by a man called Bertrand Russell, that cropped up. There are various reflections on politics and world events, for example, the joy stream was on that and World health organization statistics about poverty related deaths. They crop up in that song. Ita Mori was inspired by a painting I came across, a portrait of a guy by Howells, and millions of other things. Basically anything can be an inspiration and we’re always mindful of what’s going on, so something you see on TV or something you read in the newspaper or a book, or something somebody says when you’re sitting on a bus. There’s quite a diverse set of influences really.”
Despite a new album, a change in label and numerous shows on the table, Anaal Nathrakh is not a band with a grand plan; a distinct sense of the present keeps them grounded.
“It would be very nice if we could get to play in some new places, if we could play live in Japan or exciting far away places like that but I don’t know if that will happen. I tend not to think about the future very much at all. It’s more, concentrate on what were doing at the moment, which to us is what’s interesting.”
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Relentless anarchic nihilistic violence spews from the bowels of Anaal Nathrakh once more as eighth album, and first for Metal Blade, Desideratum continues the bands legacy in fine style. Very few bands are this consistent over so many albums, but the fire rages deep and wild in Irrumator (Mick Kenney) and V.I.T.R.I.O.L (Dave Hunt), as the Black Country pair return with another lesson in pure musical ferocity.
Starting out as a black metal band, but one that sought to leave the second-wave behind by inflicting a vat of putrid filth on a dying scene, as Anaal Nathrakh have mutated chronologically and musically, the infiltration of industrial hostility and the development of Hunt’s cleaner vocals alongside his possessed throat-ripping for effect and choruses has seen a refinement of their sound. But this refinement hasn’t led to any sacrificing of intensity at the altar of progression; Desideratum, with its khold (sic) black metal motifs, down-tuned riffing, scatter-gun percussion, pseudo-anthemic choruses and sonic gargantuanism, hurtles with the dedicated purpose of a killing machine.
An interesting development to their sound sees a proliferation of frost-bitten blackened metal lines decorate various tracks, particularly on early pair ‘Unleash’ (a very appropriately titled first track proper) and ‘Monstrum In Animo’, tributes to Dissection, and the achievement of the vision Mayhem had on A Grand Declaration Of War (Necropolis) meshed with the revelation of what Fear Factory could have become.
The trick that Anaal master more than most is that this isn’t mindless raging at the dying of the light, theirs is not the beserker, but more and more they are demonstrating an exquisite ability to balance unadulterated extremity with a melodic touch (just a touch, mind) as with calculated intent they cleverly build layers and subtle touches to their barbarism, all with an eye firmly on the current, the modern, the relevant, such as the tar-thick contemporary riffing of the title track. Arriving halfway through the album ‘A Firm Foundation Of Unyielding Despair’ sounds like the bastard mutant offspring of the most intense of Slipknot and Satyricon.
Variety and quality are prevalent throughout; ‘Sub Specie Aeterni (Of Maggots and Humanity)’ is punk as fuck and venomous, before ‘The Joystream’ descends in a cascade of black metal, breakdowns, Goth/Industrial samples and splutters and a strong chorus, with a melancholic Katatoni(a)c lead, a softening kiss in a maelstrom. Yet even then, the intensity shows no sign of letting up, make no mistake, as, on Desideratum, Anaal Nathrakh have realized the beautifully disgusting union of extremity and massive back-splitting, carcass-gutting hooks.
The lion has long since devoured both dragon and child, but has now outgrown the underground and is ready to overwhelm the universe.