Anaal Nathrakh – Reissues
When Fire Rains Down From The Sky Mankind Will Reap What It Has Sown/
Hell Is Empty, And All The Devils Are Here
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 13/08/2021
Running Time: 26:03/33:52
Review by Dark Juan
Good afternoon, dear friends. You find me writing this review from the depths of my bed of pain and iniquity. Yes, I am slightly off colour, but my dramatic persona insists that these are my final fleeting moments upon this scabrous planet. However, I was well enough to go to the pictures last night so clearly whatever malaise I am currently suffering isn’t all that threatening to my existence, or indeed my output for Ever-Metal.com. Added to the already calamitous news that I am clearly at death’s door is that fact that I have run out of milk for brews. This is an absolute scandal in the North of England, and my shame is such that I have closeted myself away in my oak-panelled study with a bottle of brandy and a stiletto. My undoing is complete.
However, before I dispatch myself from this mortal coil bearing the stigma of not being able to make proper brews, I must share with you my ruminations upon the music I am listening to, which frankly is what you’re here for, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard “GET OUT OF BED, YOU BLOODY SOFTARSE, BEFORE I GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO REALLY WHINGE ABOUT. WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? BRONTE COUNTRY? ONLY THE LASSES IN THOSE CRAPPY BOOKS ARE ALLOWED TO SWOON ALL OVER THE FURNITURE AND TAKE THEMSELVES TO BED TO MOPE, YOU FUCKING MALINGERER!” Tilley has just been escorted at the point of a rapier from my bedchamber by Mrs Dark Juan and Hodgson Biological-Warfare, who had embedded his teefs in Rick’s arse and was hanging on for dear life. Such is life in Dark Juan Terrace. For reasons of verisimilitude, I must point out that Rick hasn’t been round our gaff, Hodgson doesn’t make a point of attacking visitors and Mrs Dark Juan made me a rather lovely, cooked breakfast this morning and doesn’t really know the finer points of swordplay. Rick also isn’t THAT mean and basically allows me to get away with loads considering EM is his baby, so all in all I’m winning here… (I’m glad you cleared that up – Rick)
So, without even the slightest attempt at a segue into matters musical, let me talk about the latest reissues from Metal Blade, and more specifically Anaal Nathrakh. If you don’t know who these British extreme metal legends are by now, I suggest you rectify this immediately by buying their entire back catalogue and subjecting the inside of your head to possibly the most extreme band the UK has ever had to offer. If there were ever a band that were the epitome of recorded fury, it is Anaal Nathrakh. The song ‘Never Fucking Again’ is not music. It’s several minutes of sheer, untrammelled hatred towards everything and everyone. Kim Jong fucking Un would surrender North Korea in seconds. General Noriega would have given up in Panama after about a minute of Anaal Nathrakh being blasted at him from a US Army helicopter. I’m sure if V.I.T.R.I.O.L. saw a room full of the world’s cutest puppies and kittens and had had a blow job to completion moments before seeing the cute animals, he would still write a song that sounds like him machine gunning a host of devils in a locked room until they were basically liquid, ably backed by Irrumator basically killing every musical instrument that he has ever possessed.
“When Fire Rains Down From The Sky, Mankind Will Reap What It Has Sown” is first up, and it’s still as fucking amazing as it ever was. I know I have banged on about reissues being cynical cash grabs in the past, but that’s not necessarily true in these post-COVID times, where bands are having to clutch at every single straw of funding just to survive, so everyone re-releasing stuff is getting a big fat pass, plus the quality of the vinyl that is being produced is pretty stunning. Anyway, “Fire” (it’s far too long a title to keep typing in full) is quite simply brutality distilled into musical form. It just doesn’t let up, ever. Irrumator and V.I.T.R.I.O.L have never sounded so violent. It is unapologetic hate music and it is fucking brilliant. Every single song is faster than the USS Enterprise at Warp 9 and more violent than a pack of drunken Glaswegians fighting an equally drunken pack of Russians, being egged on by a bunch of Wrexham chavs. The fallout is spectacular, and this record never fucking FAILS in taking my breath away. Still as vibrant and exciting as it ever was (I got the original on release day, thought that a number of years of listening to black metal would make it palatable, and was slightly dismissive of the power of the band. How FUCKING WRONG I WAS!) and THE benchmark for British extreme music. Not even The Machinist come close to Anaal Nathrakh for sheer sonic Armageddon. It is the perfect extreme record. The standout song (now there’s a loose description of what Anaal Nathrakh do) will always be ‘Never Fucking Again’. It is the PERFECT distillation of the sheer hatred and misanthropy I feel towards some aspects of the human condition. I fucking ADORE “When Fire Rains Down From The Sky, Mankind Will Reap As They Have Sown” and I am stoked that it has been released again, because it is absolutely one of my favourite records of all time. Buy it and have your brains cudgelled to soup.
I also have the reissue of “Hell Is Empty, And All The Devils Are Here”. Erm, chaps, they are only here because Satan let you play a gig in Hell and all the devils fucked off up here because you scared the living shit out of them and they fled. Ever seen a devil piss himself in fear? I have, and that was because of you two, Irrumator and V.I.T.R.I.O.L. You magnificent bastards. Anyhow, this record is where the blueprint of maximum attack, howling sheer bloody murder and music that is banned under the Geneva Convention as cruel and unusual punishment changes. Anaal Nathrakh discovered clean singing, industrial and tempos below 1000000bpm. Did this change the savagery level from nuclear holocaust down to fluffy bunny? Did it FUCK! The band are still just as focused and nihilistic, from the first second of ‘Solifugae’, being a minute of crushing guitar work that launches the first actual song ‘Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen’ (“Hell’s Vengeance Boils In My Heart” and the proper name of the Queen Of The Night aria in The Magic Flute opera. You’re welcome) which has a grandiose, operatic feel through V.I.T.R.I.O.L discovering that his vocal chords can be used for other things besides aural savagery and actually having a bloody good blast at actual singing. This gives the album more musical interest than previous recordings and allows the song to take you places Anaal Nathrakh have never been before. It’s fucking glorious. ‘Screaming Of The Unborn’ is also interesting, because it has mid-paced (for Anaal Nathrakh) sections and V.I.T.R.I.O.L’s usual murderous scream gives way to a sepulchral and extremely threatening roar with considerable numbers of people shitting themselves in abject, brown trousered fear. ‘Virus Bomb’ returns to the hyperspeed (and demented, homicidal howling) we all love Anaal Nathrakh for and mates this with a chorus and middle eight Emperor would have given Samoth’s testicles for with more of the same choral sounding clean singing as the first song. Purists won’t like the fact that they decided on a bit of, well, slightly less dark and obsidian, cloying black, rather than just the sound of Hell’s mechanised and armoured regiments screaming from the dark. But I do.
Both records have the kind of production that black metal does not normally employ. Anaal Nathrakh do not sound like they have been recorded in an interstellar fishbowl hurtling around Mars with equipment made from tin cans and string. Both albums have a rich, full sound that only enhances the bitter, vitriolic hatred that passes for their music and makes them a cut above 99% of most black metal releases. I never understood why black metal bands stuck to the wasp in a jam jar sound when they were much more powerful with a proper production job.
Anyway, it’s no secret I fucking love Anaal Nathrakh and I am fucking delighted to be writing about them, and I abjure thee to buy these reissues (both on vinyl of many colours as well as CD) because they are awesome.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has finally stopped the bleeding and the leakage of brain matter from the nose and awards Anaal Nathrakh 10/10 for both records. The very best that Britain has to offer. Absolutely uncompromising and irreplaceable.
When Fire Rains Down From The Sky, Mankind Will Reap What It Has Sown:
01. Cataclysmic Nihilism
02. How The Angels Fly In (We Can Never Be Forgiven)
03. Never Fucking Again
04. Genesis Of The Antichrist
06. When Fire Falls From The Sky, Mankind Will Reap What It Has Sown
Hell Is Empty, And All The Devils Are Here:
01. Solifugae (Intro)
02. Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen
03. Screaming Of The Unborn
04. Virus Bomb
05. The Final Absolution
06. Shatter The Empyrean
07. Lama Sabatchthani
08. Until The World Stop Turning
09. Genetic Noose
10. Sanction Extremis (Kill Them All)
11. Castigation And Betrayal
V.I.T.R.I.O.L (Dave Hunt) – Vocals
Irrumator (Mick Kenney) – Everything Else
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