My experience of Anaal Nathrakh is limited. I am aware of them, and I reviewed their album, 'In the Constellation of the Black Widow', for this very site back in 2009. While I found that album to be very capable, I've not checked out any of their albums released since. I am not a fan of VITRIOL's vocal delivery - neither his screams, nor his operatic warbling - and the songs seem very interchangeable. I still stand behind my review of '...Black Widow', but I had no real desire to listen to anything else of theirs. Yet, here I am having my ears subjected to what is arguably one of the most caustic bands to rise above cult status.
For those of you who are new to Anaal Nathrakh, they are best described as blackened extreme industrial metal. It's kinda like melodic noise. The album title, 'A New Kind of Horror', alludes to a few themes; most notably that of World War One and how the lessons learned from the horrors experienced by that generation mustn't be forgotten. It's a noble theme, and Anaal Nathrakh draw on poetry from the time, including the works of D H Lawrence, to further illustrate this. However, as there are no lyrics to view (a common thing, apparently), it's going to take my brain some considerable strain to figure out if that is a success or not. However, it should ultimately rest on the songs rather than the sentiment.
I'm not going to lie, though, diving back into the world of Anaal Nathrakh is a foreboding experience. I'm fairly well-versed in all things black and death metal, but I found myself mentally bracing for the worst when I hit play. Seasoned fans may well scoff at this, and perhaps rightly so. But I always sound like my dad when describing this band to anyone. Opener 'The Road to...' is a pointless intro track; samples followed by a brief riff. 'Obscene as Cancer' is the first proper track and is a decent start; it's all very Emperor in places. 'The Reek of Fear' nabs Hans Zimmer's penchant for synthesized orchestral "BWAHS". Otherwise, it's a mess. The vocals are ridiculous. 'Forward!' improves things slightly with its vicious attack, and memorable arrangement. However, the band is at its best when they are delivering focussed songs - such as 'Vi Coactus' - rather than layering and twisting for the sake of it. In fact, the back half of the album is a far more palatable experience. The chaos is dialled down, and you can begin to hear the origins of what could have been a stellar album, had this been the general feel of the whole affair. As it happens, the album suffers greatly from a schizophrenic first half.
Does 'A New Kind of Horror' make me want to delve backwards through their discography? No. My view of this band hasn't really changed. I've listened to this album mostly for the sake of this review. And, while it was never as bad as I had feared, it's only the writing of this review that got me through it. I can't listen to this for pleasure. That's a strange statement to make, as I will happily listen to brutal music, sometime with far more disturbing lyrical subjects. Yet, it's the fact that Anaal Nathrakh produce such intensely corrosive music that switches me off. If I forced myself to tune in to its depths I'm sure I would discover more. But, that reward doesn't seem worth the effort when there is so much out there musically that, while sometimes equally challenging, doesn't require my brain to ignore the unpleasantness of the experience.
A NEW KIND OF HORROR
Review by Steve Cowan
28th Sept 2018
1) The Road To…
2) Obscene as Cancer
3) The Reek of Fear
5) New Bethlehem/Mass Death Futures
6) The Apocalypse Is About You!
7) Vi Coactus
8) Mother of Satan
9) The Horrid Strife
10) Are We Fit For Glory Yet? (The War To End Nothing)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the band is at its best when they are delivering focussed songs... rather than layering and twisting for the sake of it. In fact, the back half of the album is a far more palatable experience."