The two years since the release of The Whole of the Law has the world teeter on the precipice of annihilation and, with the Doomsday clock sitting at two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, who better to provide a soundtrack to the apocalypse than Anaal Nathrakh?
The folly of humankind has always been a pervading subject for the band, right back to the When Fire Rains From the Sky, Mankind Will Reap As It Has Sown EP in 2003 and Anaal Nathrakh’s latest album, A New Kind of Horror, continues the theme of our imminent demise at our own hands. Taking it’s title inspiration from the centennial anniversary of the end of the War to End All Wars this album opens quietly enough with the intro track The Road To... an incoming drone growing louder as it nears. The drumbeat replicating gunfire beats back against the screaming guitar tone only Anaal Nathrakh can create.
Those familiar with Anaal Nathrakh’s music will know to expect a barrage of industrial black grind and, as yet, with this their eleventh full length, the band always seem able to pull the unexpected out of the hat. Multi-instrumentalist, Mick Kenney, creates a screaming wall of sound through hyper fast blast beats and wailing guitars, against which Dave Hunt can spit bile into the dark heart of the human condition. Obscene as Cancer is Nathrakh’s take on Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est, in which Hunt’s vocals hang beneath the music, a solitary voice crying out against the insanity which surrounds him.
Passages of quiet are sparse across A New Kind of Horror, but when they arrive they are a welcome as a cease fire, allowing the listener to gather their thoughts before plunging back into the madness once more. The soundscapes Kenney creates across the album alternate between the ferocious blackened industrial rampage of The Apocalypse is About You to the Death-infused Forward!, with its barked- order chorus and frantic artillery of drums, to the symphonic styling of Vi Coactus.
Dave Hunt’s multi-layered vocal performance veers from animalistic screams to King Diamond-style falsetto, often in the same track, as with Reek of Fear. Across the album a host of other voices appear for a brief moment: a haunting female song at the opening of Forward! reminiscent of the ghostly voice in The Amityville Horror and a stirring 1930s propaganda choir throughout album closer Are We Fit For Glory Yet? (The War to End Nothing), with Hunt vocalising stirring nationalistic calls to arms.
The black industrial grind of Anaal Nathrakh’s music and their nihilistic view of humanity mirrors perfectly the never-before-seen scale of the Great War’s mechanised slaughter: a new kind of horror indeed. And if indeed the End Times are upon us, then who better than Anaal Nathrakh to play us out?