Music / Anaal Nathrakh

"It's not an attempt to make the most extreme music possible. It just so happens that the music we want to make is really quite abrasive."

Anaal Nathrakh (pronounced, surprisingly, almost exactly how it looks [An-Al Nat-Rakh], which translates to "serpent's breath") are a widely acclaimed Black Metal duo from Birmingham, England. The members are multi-instrumentalist Mick Kenney (AKA Irrumator), who performs all instruments in studio, and vocalist Dave Hunt (AKA V.I.T.R.I.O.L), who performs, well, the vocals. The duo came together in 1999, at a time when black metal was still relatively alive in the underground. After recording two demos, one self-titled and another called Total Fucking Necro, in 2001 they released their debut album The Codex Necro, which featured a chaotic, raw black metal sound. The album received near-unanimous positive reviews, earning numerous "Album of the Month" awards, and is to this day considered one of the best black metal releases of the 2000s.

Their next two releases, Domine Non Es Dignus and Eschaton, in 2004 and 2006, respectively, continued along the same path as their debut, receiving similar praise from metal publications. Then, with 2007's Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here, they took their already brutalizing sound and make it even more brutal by incorporating elements of Death Metal, Grindcore, and Industrial into their sound. This album is considered to be the band's breakthrough release, receiving acclaim from critics and a spot on Metal Storm's "Top 100 Black Metal Albums of All Time" list. Their next four albums have since followed in the same extreme fusion style, and to this day the group is going strong.

Despite their acclaim, Anaal Nathrakh are definitely not a band for everyone. Their music is noisy and intense even by extreme metal standards, to the level many metalheads consider them to be one of the heaviest bands ever. Make of that what you will.

Discography
  • The Codex Necro (2001)
  • Domine Non Es Dignus (2004)
  • Eschaton (2006)
  • Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here (2007)
  • In the Constellation of the Black Widow (2009)
  • Passion (2011)
  • Vanitas (2012)
  • Desideratum (2014)
  • The Whole of the Law (2016)
  • A New Kind of Horror (2018)


Associated tropes:

  • Album Intro Track: "I wish I Could Vomit Blood on you... People" from Domine Non Es Dignus, "Solifugae" from Hell is Empty and All the Devils Are Here, "Acheronta Movebimus" from Desideratum and "The Nameless Dread" from The Whole of the Law
  • Album Title Drop: "We will Fucking Kill you" drops the title of The Whole of the Law in its chorus. Also, the title of Domine Non Es Dignus is dropped in the intro to "Swallow the World".
  • Altum Videtur: Domine Non Es Dignus and Vanitas.
  • Apocalypse How: Presumably their main lyrical focus. However, this is up to debate since Anaal Nathrakh don't release their lyrics.
    • One thing's for sure, they certainly have the sound.
  • Careful with That Axe: It'd be easier to list when Dave doesn't do this.
  • Cover Version: They have covered "Carnage" and "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" by Mayhem as well as "Powerslave" by Iron Maiden and "Man at C&A" by The Specials
  • Creepy Children Singing: At the end of "...So We Can Die Happy".
  • Darker and Edgier: Even for black metal, of all genres.
  • Epic Rocking:
    • The self-titled track off The Codex Necro, at 6:07.
    • Domine Non Es Dignus has "This Cannot be the End", at 6:24.
    • Passion has the longest AN song, "Drug-Fucking Abomination", lasting 7:27.
  • Evil Laugh: At the beginning of "...On Being a Slave"
  • Filk Song: "Virus Bomb" appears to be based on the eponymous superweapon in Warhammer 40,000.
  • Genre-Busting: They meld Black Metal with elements of Death Metal, Grindcore, and Industrial Metal on their later albums.
  • Gratuitous German: "Tod Huetet Uebel" note 
    • Downplayed by "Der Hölle Rache Kocht in Meinem Herzen", which is a reference to Mozart's The Magic Flute opera aria of the same name but not actually sung in German.
  • Harsh Vocals: What isn't a throat-rending shriek or an operatic Metal Scream is a deep, guttural growl or snarl.
  • Heavy Mithril: Their name comes from Merlin's Charm of Making in the 1981 film Excalibur.
  • I Am the Band: Mick and Dave. Justified as they are the only members.
  • "I Am" Song: "I am the Wrath of Gods and the Desolation of the Earth".
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Fucking, yes, holy, fucking, shit. Thanks to the large amount of feedback, industrial sounds, harsh samples, and grinding guitars, the typically difficult to understand growls and screams of the genre are made all the harder to decipher. Recordings of live shows make them a lot easier to understand, however.
  • Industrial Metal: Their fourth release contained trace amounts, with successive albums incorporating elements of Glitch, techno, IDM, and even a breakdown or two. Overall it's become a core part of their sound. Desideratum even includes hints of dubstep.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: The children singing "Wheels on a Bus" at the end of "...So we Can Die Happy"
  • Lighter and Softer: Desideratum is arguably this to their earlier material thanks to its greater Electronic Music influence and emphasis on melody. This is a relative case, however, as it's still harder than most black metal albums.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Dave utilizes deep death growls; post-hardcore style shouts; extremely harsh, high pitched shrieks (his signature); and eerily beautiful melodic singing.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: While their music is hellish and borderline Harsh Noise with what little lyrics can be deciphered displaying extremely cynical views of hatred and senseless violence, in live shows and interviews they're a pair of affable guys with a good sense of humor.
  • Metal Scream: Mostly type 1 and type 4 with occasional type 2 and 3s.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Passion has three songs under 2 minutes: "Post traumatic Stress Euphoria" (1:41), "Locus of Damnation" (1:01) and "Portrait of the Artist" (1:20)note . The intro tracks mentioned above, with the exception of "Acheronta Movebimus", also qualify.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Their material usually does not drop below a 10 and frequently pushes deeply into 11 territory, but they also have more melodic elements and clean vocals which often pushes songs that would be an 11 to a 10. On rare occasions, their songs can go down to a hard 9, such as "The Joystream" and "Do Not Speak". "A Metaphor for the Dead" is their softest song, with the possible exception of a couple of their intro tracks, at a soft 8.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Their genre of choice could be best described as... Industrial blackened deathgrind.
  • Protest Song: "The Joystream" could be one against corrupt aid organizations, since its chorus appears to reference this blog post by Dave where he discusses the effectiveness of the traditional charity system and how society can do better by being more proactive.
  • Religion Rant Song: "Idol" from Desideratum is a type 1.
  • Sampling: They've sampled Hellraiser, Event Horizon and the 1956 film adaption of Nineteen Eighty-Four in their music.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted. The band members look quite unassuming despite their sound.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Though unlike most other examples, the clean vocals are generally anything but melodic. Despite this, Dave's clean vocals can go into a particularly operatic soaring sound, like here on "When The Lion Devours Both Dragon And Child".
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: Downplayed by "A Metaphor for the Dead".
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The band never publish their lyrics, except for one instance with the song "Tod Huetet Uebel". This leaves the fans to pick apart the lyrics themselves, the almost constant Indecipherable Lyrics taken Up to Eleven be damned.
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