Some two decades in, Anaal Nathrakh continue to push the boundaries of metal extremity with uncompromising integrity.
Responsible for the critically praised 2020 release, Endarkment, Birmingham’s purveyors of metal extremity Anaal Nathrakh have remained a fixture in the world heavy music for more than two decades.
Seemingly hitting their stride more than twenty years into their tenure, the combination of Dave Hunt and multi-instrumentalist and reviewed producer Mick Kenney continue to evolve as artists with an obvious commitment to their craft. Any objection to that fact can be clearly obliterated with one spin of the band’s 11th full length studio effort.
To provide an assessment of a turbulent, albeit productive 2020 for Anaal, the band’s endearingly candid frontman Dave Hunt revisited the success of the album and where he evaluates their rank in the hierarchy of heavy culture.
0:35 – Anaal Nathrakh’s very real traction despite the “nut punch” of 2020
The irony in having a well-received album during a time when touring in support of it is impossible is not lost on Hunt. Trading the frustration of uncertainty with regards to performing live for the successes in terms of streams and even charting as an extreme metal band, Hunt finds a balance. The silver lining, if any, is that as people have been forced to bunker down in their homes, they do always have music as a retreat.
4:38 -The sonic shift and evolving sound of Anaal Nathrakh
Extreme metal often has an unpolished quality that underscores the grit of the sound. At least it’s intended to. As for Anaal Nathrakh, their finished product offers a much more refined version of the sound that presents a different perspective of the genre. Hunt attributes that result to the continued sharpening of Mick Kenney’s production skills and the natural evolution of the music that develops organically.
9:17 – The role of Mick Kenney
Kenney’s footprint in the culture is wide. As a producer, his keen ear and ability to cultivate the best from the artists he works with is uncanny. Hunt, in acknowledging Kenney’s prowess away from Anaal Nathrakh, also feels like his partner has the ability to readily adapt to whatever project he has his hands on – Anaal included.
12:12 – Existing as an underground band
The reality for Hunt is simply that the term, or in most cases title, of “Underground” is purely subjective. So to assess whether or not the band is that, is a constantly moving marker that makes if difficult to gauge. What he can say definitively is that there is no concerted effort to conform to any kind of commercial standards in an effort to sell more records. The music Anaal Nathrakh makes is pure artistry not convoluted by formula or template.
18:55 – Counter culture and the embrace of extremity
Citing band’s like Nirvana and Slipknot, Hunt explained how those bands ultimately resonated with massive, global audiences despite the fact that their identity was rooted as outsider art. With a refusal to compromise and a commitment to maintaining integrity as artists, they managed to achieve widespread reach without needing to conform. That reality suggests that extreme music could reverberate on a mainstream level. Will it, Hunt nor anyone else knows but the idea that counter culture can find a place in the mainstream is a plausible one.
24:25 – The current social climate and the time for confrontational art
Jutxaposing the current wave of London reemergence of grindcore with the music and message of Bob Marley, Hunt articulated how outsider art evolves from the need to develop a voice. While Marley’s sound has become synonymous with peace, love, and understanding, there is a message of opposition and protest at the root of it that draws parallels to the aggressive, antagonistic sounds that are reverberating in the current landscape of heavy music.
29:40 – Creating the future rather Han replicate the past
Emphasizing that there is nothing wrong with being a bit retrospective, Hunt explains that the dynamic of Anaal Nathrakh simply is about progression. Nostalgia certainly works for plenty of bands and is almost a requisite for many more. For Hunt and Kenney, the MO has always been about crafting a product that excites them at the moment. It’s likely why some two decades deep, the band resonates fest as ever.
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