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"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 extreme 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. Despite this, they incorporate a very surprising amount of melodic elements into much of their music. Make of that what you will.

Dave Hunt was also the vocalist for the Death Metal band Benediction from 1998 until 2019, while Mick Kenney also works as record producer and co-runs the record label FETO Records along with Napalm Death bassist Shane Embury. Kenney also has a solo project named Kordhell, with which he produces horrorcore-inspired phonk.


  • The Codex Necro (2001)
  • When Fire Rains Down From the Sky, Humanity Will Reap as it has Sown (EP, 2003)
  • 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)
  • Endarkenment (2020)

"Panem, circenses, a credulous descent, a Gadarene trope into endarkenment!":

  • 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, "The Nameless Dread" from The Whole of the Law and "The Road To..." from A New Kind of Horror.
  • Album Title Drop: The title of Domine Non Es Dignus is dropped in the intro to "Swallow the World", "We will Fucking Kill you" drops the title of The Whole of the Law in its chorus and the title of A New Kind of Horror is dropped in "Are We Fit for Glory Yet? (The War to End Nothing)".
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: Since at least Hell is Empty... the group has made a habit of making the last song be the most abrasivenote , nightmarishnote , or melancholicnote  on a given album. This is not by coincidence, given their lyrical focus.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: While it firmly established Anaal Nathrakh's reputation as a fearsome band and laid the foundation for their signature sound, The Codex Necro is a raw, chaotic, and aggressive but otherwise largely straightforward Black Metal album with no clean vocals or the experimentation with other extreme genres the band would become known for starting with Domine Non Es Dignus. The When Fire Rains Down from the Sky... EP marks the beginning of the transition between the two sounds.
  • 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"
  • Genre-Busting: They meld Black Metal with elements of Death Metal, Grindcore, and Industrial Metal on their later albums.
  • Genre Mashup: Their genre of choice could be best described as... Industrial blackened deathgrind.
  • 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.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Even with Indecipherable Lyrics, their music appears to have this theme. "When Humanity Is Cancer", anyone?
  • 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, and Dave Hunt's vocals have become somewhat more clear over the years.
  • 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 the rest of their discography thanks to its greater Electronic Music influence and more melodic songwriting. This is a relative case, however, as it's still pretty damn hard in its own right.
    • Downplayed by Endarkenment, which dials back the brutality a tad and strips away most of the Industrial Metal influence for a sound that while perhaps more accessible, sounds just as angry and hopeless as anything in their backlog.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Hell is Empty and all the Devils are Here, "The Yellow King", "Lama Sabachthani", "Timewave Zero"...they're big fans of these. Helps that Dave has a background in literature.
    • The chorus for "More Of Fire Than Blood" is a line directly quoted from The Prophecies of Nostradamus.
    • Similarly, the chorus of "When the Dragon Devours Both Lion and Child" paraphrases the Madman's Parable by Friedrich Nietzsche.
  • 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.
  • Metal Scream: Mostly type 3 and type 4 with occasional type 1 and 2s.
  • 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.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: The band doesn't have the highest opinion of humanity out there
  • 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.
    • Endarkenment is an album full of them, with a lyrical focus based around the increasing disdain for and rejection of reason and objective fact throughout the world (particularly the US and UK) and the subsequent embrace of demagoguery and slide into autocracy. While it is unknown exactly why they chose to publish their lyrics for the first time ever on this album, the nature of them coupled with the state of the world is as good a guess as any.
  • Religion Rant Song: "Idol" from Desideratum is a type 1. "Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes" from Eschaton is remarkably subtle about it.
  • Sampling: They've sampled Hellraiser, Event Horizon and the 1956 film adaption of Nineteen Eighty-Four in their music.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted. Dave and Mick don't look threatening at all, but they make some of the harshest music known to man.
  • Shout-Out:
    "In lockstep with the gourmands
    Who'll lick your fat from their chins
    If they're Mr. Creosote, we're not even a wafer thin' mint"
  • Sinister Swine: The cover art of the album Endarkenment (which isn't present in most of its releases) depicts an ominous-looking pig head with penises for eyes. Pigs are also mentioned in three of the tracks (the title track, whose music video features Pig Men, “The Age of Starlight Ends,” and "Libidinous (A Pig with Cocks in Its Eyes)").
  • 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".
  • Special Guest: Mike sometimes lets other artists provide vocals on certain tracts. "Atavism" features Attila Csihar, "Tod Heutet Uebel" features Rainier Landfermann, and "Who Thinks of the Executioner" features Alan Dubin of Khanate.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: Downplayed by "A Metaphor for the Dead", "The Joystream", and "Requiem". While they may be far more melodic and even downright emotional than the rest of their material, they still feature sections with brutal instrumental blasters and Dave's signature shrieks.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The band never publish their lyrics, except for two individual instances with the songs "Tod Huetet Uebel" and "Forward!" before they broke this tradition with Endarkenment. This leaves the fans to pick apart the lyrics themselves, the almost constant Indecipherable Lyrics taken up to eleven be damned.
  • Vocal Evolution: There is no clean singing on The Codex Necro; it was first used on Domine Non Es Dignus and quickly became a mainstay. Death growls were also used more commonly with time.
  • War Is Hell: This seems to be the main theme of A New Kind of Horror.
  • The World Is Always Doomed: Even if just taking song titles like "When Fire Rains Down From the Sky Humanity Will Reap as it has Sown" at face value, almost every other song of theirs is about the world, or at least free society, being destroyed due to man's willful ignorance, degeneracy and hubris.