Anaal Nathrakh – Scala, London – 14th December 2022

Anaal Nathrakh – Scala, London – 14th December 2022

15th December 2022 0 By Dan Peeke

I found an iPod I owned when I was 11 a few days ago. It was filled with metalcore bands like Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold that first helped me get into metal. I obviously had a lot to learn, though, as I’d seemed to have labelled bands by genre, and went with a system that meant any 100% guttural band was death metal, and anyone that used clean vocals at any point was metalcore.

Cannibal Corpse – death metal. Spot on. Opeth – metalcore. Not so sure. One of the bands I had listed under metalcore was Anaal Nathrakh. I distinctly remember Hell Is Empty And All The Devils Are Here being the one album I found to be ‘too heavy’, but yet my youthful brain placed it right there next to Bullet For My Valentine. Bizarre.

Anyway, fast forward 13 years and I was off to see the band that was ‘too heavy’, having interviewed them and dug deep into their catalogue of what I might describe as ‘melodic blackened grindcore’. Hopefully that’ll please the genre purists . At the end of the day it’s just really bloody heavy metal.

The most instantly striking thing about their first show in almost four years at London’s Scala is the immense sound quality. For a band so abrasive and gritty, every detail comes across incredibly well, from dual guitars courtesy of members of Akercocke and Voices to main man Dave Hunt’s acrobatic lead vocal. Impressive considering Scala is normally a nightclub.

The second is how normal everything feels. Dave shouts ‘cheers’ after every song and is impressively self-depreciating in his dry chat with the audience and candid explanation of why his Anaal Nathrakh counterpart Mick Kenney. Instead of pantomime-esque rituals and murmurings about hailing satan / sacrificing goats between songs, we see Dave kneel down and stare at the setlist he can’t read properly because he isn’t wearing his glasses. It’s an incredibly endearing juxtaposition when compared to the chaos of his music.

Tracks from Anaal Nathrakh’s first albums are toe-curlingly abrasive and performed almost perfectly (save for a few slips on double bass drum parts that, to be fair, were originally played by a drum machine in some cases), but the tracks that skew slightly more melodically that really hit the spot. The way ‘Forward!’ and ‘Hold Your Children Close And Pray For Oblivion’ jump from gritty snarls to almost operatic clean vocals is a testament to their compositional skill, and even more so to Dave’s voice. ‘Idol’ and ‘In The Constellation Of The Black Widow’ are even more

ferocious. There’s something King Diamond-esque about his ability to shift tone so frequently.

Thankfully his music is less… overrated…

The complexity and range of his vocal parts mean not every one is replicated to perfection – a few moments of Rob Halford imitation during ‘Libidinous’ fall a little flat, and the entries into the chorus during the live debut of ‘Endarkenment’ are sloppy from the whole band – but those in the pit aren’t even close to noticing. The circle pits are relentless and aggressive, stage diving is half-heartedly discouraged but met with warmth and excitement from the whole band, and a mid-set wall of death ramps things up to eleven very quickly. I even saw a guy that went to the same school as me in the pit. I’m not sure if he’d have cared back in year seven, but I promise I don’t think Anaal Nathrakh are metalcore anymore

Acheronta Movebimus
Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes
Between Shit and Piss We Are Born
Submission Is for the Weak
Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion
The Road to…
Obscene as Cancer
In the Constellation of the Black Widow
Endarkenment (Live Debut)
Libidinous (A Pig With Cocks in Its Eyes) (Live Debut)
Forging Towards the Sunset
Do Not Speak

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