Anaal Nathrakh

A New Kind Of Horror

Written by: RUB on 05/10/2018 13:43:39

Keeping in line with my most recent reviews, I will now embark on tackling the new release from British extreme metallers Anaal Nathrakh: “A New Kind of Horror”. Anyone familiar with the band should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the record: very extreme instrumentation, menacing madman-shrieks, and insanely fast-paced, blackened deathgrind coupled with various samples for added effect. So far, so good — nothing has changed on that note, as I spin the record for the first time, but does it fare well against some of their previous masterpieces?

True to the theme of the record, which marks the 100th year since The Great War ended, the music is a blitzkrieg barrage of hard-hitting extreme metal right from the first track, “Obscene as Cancer”, which showcases frontman Dave Hunt’s impressive vocal range. What has become their trademark is the juxtaposition of the extreme deathgrind instrumentation with Hunt’s impressive clean vocals, which “A New Kind of Horror” has plenty of. The track, and in fact the entire album, sounds like the soundtrack to a bad dream, with its eerie-sounding and nightmarish sound effects, where you would wake up as soon as Hunt’s beautiful clean vocals kick in, just to be thrown back into the terrifying dream as soon as he switches back to his harsher vocal style. It is just so haunting in every aspect. And speaking of vocal style, “A New Kind of Horror” also sees Hunt employ a new approach, at least to my knowledge. On both “The Reek of Fear” and “New Bethlehem / Mass Death Futures” he reaches a level of King Diamond-like vocals, with the only difference being the extreme style of metal that accompanies it. This definitely works to the band’s advantage and gives the songs an extra edge of both grandeur and insanity. Those tracks are definitely amongst the best on offer on this record, and boast everything that I like about Anaal Nathrakh.

As a clear reference to The Great War, the track “Forward!” contains samples of gunfire, even if it rather sounds like a can being opened to me. This track portrays the life and hopes of a soldier during World War I and explores the idea that whether you were a butcher, book keeper or school teacher, you were all in the same boat, buried in the trenches whilst still hoping it would all be over by Christmas: “No place for cowards, up and over; Forward!”. Touching a subject like World War I underlines exactly how much Anaal Nathrakh have matured as a band, and it helps elevate a decent album to a good one by placing the nightmarish sound of the band into a serious context.

I’m not gonna lie, my favourite album from Anaal Nathrakh could very well be “Vanitas” from 2012, as it mixes the extreme and insane parts of metal with the beautiful facet of Hunt’s voice, as seen on the classic “Forging Towards the Sunset”. Of course, other records like 2009’s brilliant “In the Constellation of the Black Widow” deserves an honorable mention as well, and in fact it seems to me that “A New Kind of Horror” is almost like a mix of those two. The albums are fairy similar, as they’re both very grim and ruthless, and most definitely not for the faint-of-heart. Either you love them, or you hate them — I don’t believe there’s an in-between, and this even goes for regular fans of extreme metal. I’ll still count myself as a fan, no doubt about that.

All of this makes Anaal Nathrakh one of the most extreme metal bands out there, because sometimes it’s not even very pleasant to listen to. It makes them so much more of a niche-band than many of their colleagues in the genre, and although I find most of the songs present of “A New King of Horror” enjoyable (if one can use a word like that about ‘Nathrakh’s pummel) like I have their previous material, I have to say that some of the more menacing and devilish screams Hunt manages to create might be used a bit too frequently as filler this time around. I get that it adds to the effect, as well as the overall nightmarish expression the album tries to create, but in my opinion, this is already done through the instrumental side, the gritty and snarled vocals, and of course also some of the former mentioned screams. As any fan of the band would know, this is nothing new as they have employed this technique throughout their career. But in my opinion, many of the tracks have the ability to stand on their own feet and sound just as menacing without the overuse of that particular effect — less is more, and all that. However, the album still lives up to its fitting title, and the band has still managed to create something worthwhile here. Although perhaps not the best we’ve seen from them, I still deem “A New Kind of Horror” worthy of the extreme metal brand that we’ve come to expect from the British duo.

Download: New Bethlehem / Mass Death Futures, The Reek of Fear, Forward!, Obscene as Cancer, VI Coactus
For the fans of: Benighted, Cattle Decapitation, (early) Emperor, Full Of Hell, Scour
Listen: Facebook

Release date 28.09.2018
Metal Blade Records

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