My friends, the end is nigh. And it comes to you with the sound of Anaal Nathrakh‘s A New Kind of Horror. Their tenth full-length album is yet another 2018 release I have been waiting for with bated breath. Although the year’s not over yet, this may be the one that’s headed straight for the top of my list of personal favourites. It seems Mick Kenney (music) and Dave Hunt (vocals) are still pushing the boundaries of extreme music to limits I had no idea could possibly be reached. The dynamic duo from Birmingham, UK have done so with each new release, and this time’s no different. And they don’t seem to be showing any sign of ever intending to stop.
First off, A New Kind of Horror is a gargantuan meld of multiple genres, each influencing the album’s atmosphere in their own way. You’ve got your black metal for a more evil and dramatic effect, death metal for violent passion, grindcore for speed and craze, and industrial elements for gravitas, all intertwining perfectly to produce a terrifying wall of sound that echoes raw emotion. Never on this record is there a moment of stillness. Not once did I feel bored. The listen is challenging in the sense that it comes at you with everything it’s got, and it is up to you alone to transcend the overwhelming ensemble. But the challenge is worth taking on.
Kenney is a mastermind when it comes to writing energetic music that oozes feeling and melody. There’s a fine balance here between the grandiose and the hellish. The Apocalypse is about You! and Are We Fit for Glory Yet? (The War to End Nothing) are two perfect examples of said balance. Utterly brutish one moment, epically beautiful the next. It’s a memorable experience. More than once did I find myself humming the catchy riffs, tapping my fingers to the killer rhythms, or mouthing the lyrics still echoing in my mind after a few plays.
Speaking of which, Dave Hunt is completely out of control. Most of the album comprises of him screaming his lungs out with such fury, you’re wondering if he isn’t hurting himself in the process. It even sounds as though he surrenders to the hurt and utterly revels in it, adding that specific touch of insanity to the music in true Anaal Nathrakh fashion. Be it through the breathtaking wails on Obscene as Cancer or New Bethlehem/Mass Death Futures, or via bloodthirsty gurgles and high pitched King Diamond-like falsettos on The Reek of Fear, Hunt‘s unbelievable vocal range proves he is just as integral an instrument as the powerhouse orchestra backing him up. Although I sort of expected the vocals to turn out the way they did, he still managed to surprise me at times. On Mother of Satan for example, Hunt goes for a more rhythmic approach on the chorus, repeating ‘Satan’ over and over in a comically dark, yet catchy way. On Vi Coactus he is even seconded by Bleeding Through‘s Brandan Schieppati, who chimes in during the chorus with his usual dry screams.
Furthermore, A New Kind of Horror dares you to make sense of the various themes it evokes. Lyrically, Hunt mainly focuses on the horrors of World War I and contemporary politics, while simultaneously drawing parallels between both. He also draws inspiration from several poems about said war, and the letters of D.H. Lawrence. These themes already set a certain mood for A New Kind of Horror, but it wouldn’t be Anaal Nathrakh if the album wasn’t strewn with plenty of samples which fully contribute to the contextualisation of the composition. Tracks like The Horrid Strife or The Apocalypse is about You! incorporate samples of men suffering and dying on the battlefield either as intro or outro material or, more disturbingly, on the background while the track is playing. While on Forward! we are treated to a full-on machine gun blast for the track’s entirety.
What you’ve got here is a brutal, melodic, insane masterpiece of an album with well-rounded concepts and an even clearer message: whether it be 100 years ago or today, humanity will always face new kinds of horrors. We can only hope that bands like Anaal Nathrakh will never cease to draw inspiration from them and will keep putting out releases of such exquisite quality.
Release date: September 28th, 2018
Label: Metal Blade Records
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)