ANAAL NATHRAKH "Talk About The Passion!"

By Lord Randall

British tag team ANAAL NATHRAKH have been tearing up minds and assholes
 with their dirty, dirty hybrid of grind/black/power metal for over a decade now, 
and what has it gotten them? More pissed, more into exposing the seedy underbelly of the world and of themselves than ever before. The duo’s new album, "Passion" is a scathing indictment against existence itself. Lord Randall dodged the spew of vocalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L. to investigate…

Wormwood Chronicles: Why the decision to fuckin' finally print lyrics to the songs on "Passion"? Were the lyrics on the rest of the albums just utter bollocks, and you actually tried this time? 

VITRIOL:  Hilarious!  No, there’s actually only one song with lyrics printed this time, and that was for a very particular reason – I co-wrote the lyrics and shaped the idea behind the song with Rainer (from PAVOR/ex-BETHLEHEM), and as he’d put a lot of effort into the song, we thought it would be good to recognize that and show people what he’d done.  After all, we thought what he did was amazing.  Aside from that there’s the usual few snippets of lines etc to give a flavor of what’s going on, but no full lyrics.  And no bollocks.

WC: Your albums have normally hit around the 30-45min mark. Is there something to be said for the short, sharp shock, the quick blast of a bomb as opposed to the prolonged gunfight? 

VITRIOL:  Yes, I think so.  I mean, it depends a lot on what kind of music you’re talking about – as emotionally intense as it is in parts, I can happily sit and listen to "The Pianist" soundtrack and just press play again when it’s finished.  Much longer than we typically run, and I think listening fatigue would set in.  I own albums where I’ve found that to be the case, whereas no one I’ve spoken to has accused our albums of being too short.  

WC: ANAAL NATHRAKH has had guest performers ever since "Eschaton". Who did you hook up with this time around, and do you write with a certain collaborator in mind or vice versa?

VITRIOL: It goes back further than that actually, we had Attila from MAYHEM and Seth - who’s now in WATAIN - on the EP we did between our first and second albums.  On "Passion", we’ve got Rainer who I already mentioned, plus Alan Dubin from KHANATE and Mories, the mastermind of GNAW THEIR TONGUES.  The music’s not really written with anyone in mind; we don’t pick which track we might want to get a guest involved with until the music is all already written.  But if we’re thinking of working with someone on a song, there’s usually some part or other that sticks out as being particularly appropriate for their style so we’ll keep it aside for them.  That said, this time around the track with Dubin on it is a sort of duet where we’re both all over it.

WC: Of course the band is made up of yourself and Irrumator, but when it comes to 
collaborations, how much of "themselves" are you comfortable letting shine through, or are they brought in to do something specific and that's that?

VITRIOL:  We’re happy to give them free reign, that’s part of the reason for getting them involved in the first place.  We’re curious ourselves to see what they’ll do with what we give to them – after all, we’re only asking people whose work we’re fans of in the first place.  And usually anyone worth their salt will give a track a unique feel, a flavor of themselves.  So it’s best to let them get on with it and see what happens – these are people more than capable of taking a song and doing something amazing with it so it’s cool to just see what happens.

WC: Do you find that, as the vocalist of the duo, Mick ends up doing most of the real
 work before you come in, fart something onto a page or into a mic only to claim 
½ of the credit? 

VITRIOL:  No.  For three reasons – first, I’m not interested in claiming credit, especially for something I didn’t do myself.  I don’t think credit is allotted in that way anyway.  There’s not a credit pie that everyone gets a certain sized slice of.  It’s not like people come up to me and praise my guitar playing.  Second, because ANAAL NATHRAKH is the two of us.  At the risk of hubris, if it wasn’t me singing, it wouldn’t be ANAAL NATHRAKH any more than it would be if I worked with someone else and Mick wasn’t involved.  There aren’t many people who sound quite like this, whether that’s good or bad.  And third, I put a lot of work in as well. But of course none of that is to diminish in any way what Mick does – without his talent and hard work there’d be nothing for me to sing over, and I don’t care if this sounds fake - I’m continually amazed by his creativity even after all this time.

WC: From what I’ve read, the writing/recording phase of "Passion" was a torturous 
18-month affair. What made this any different than the other albums?

VITRIOL:  It wasn’t so much that making the album was an 18 month torture session, it was more that we’d both had a lot of difficult shit to deal with in the time since the last album, and "Passion" reflected that.  The album’s not autobiographical, and we’re not interested in some kind of public airing of emotions, talking about our pain and all that embarrassing crap.  The reason for including it in the press release was just to underline the fact that what you’re hearing comes from something real.  I wouldn’t insist that anyone making extreme music should be some kind of alcoholic wreck, but I do sometimes struggle with the idea that the people behind all the rage I’m hearing are essentially just on holiday from an otherwise charmed life. 

WC: In all seriousness, was there anything you knew you wanted to focus on when you began the writing/recording sessions for "Passion"? Anything you knew you wanted to avoid?

VITRIOL: We wanted to evolve a little, but in the right way.  It’s been interesting actually to see some of the earliest reviews of the album slipping out on to the internet, as a couple have been quite derisive and accused us of putting the same album out again, while others have been impressed by the evolution.  Curious to see different reactions like that, given that once you’ve finished an album and it’s being prepared for release there’s nothing more you can do to it.  I suppose it comes down to how each individual listens to music.  From our point of view there are significant changes – much choppier structures, more strongly differentiated tracks, markedly more sadness in some of the atmospheres, things like that.  But we didn’t want to go mad – there are ideas we had that we didn’t think would be appropriate for this album, so maybe they’ll be on the next, assuming there is a next.  We also wanted a “directness” about the album – a punchy title, an immediacy to the music even in the intro sections etc.  Hopefully we achieved that.

WC: Or, rather, by now is what comes out as ANAAL NATHRAKH 2nd nature to you? You know that when you’re in “A” mode, “B” will result?

VITRIOL: That’s true of the process of actually doing it – the hour by hour process of working together in front of a mixing desk.  And perhaps it’s easier for us nowadays to know what sorts of ideas will work.  But in terms of the creative side of it, no – we still feel inspired to do it, and follow that inspiration where it leads us.  There’s no phoning it in.  So getting what exists in our heads out on to a recording has probably got a fair bit easier, but coming up with it in the first place is still a fully engaged process, as it always should be.

WC: On first listen to "Passion", this is definitely a leaner, meaner ANAAL NATHRAKH than we’ve heard in a bit. Was this an intentional “trimming the fat” period for you, even though the diversity you’ve shown in the past is still there?

VITRIOL: I think it goes back to the directness I mentioned before. Hopefully people will be able to identify with that, but you can’t spend all your time signposting everything, you can only try to make sure that what you’ve done is something you find satisfying yourself.

WC: Having not seen the lyrics as yet, what subjects did you wanna tackle on 
"Passion"? Anything outside the norm for you, or more of the same hateful, pissed off degradation of self and humanity?

VITRIOL:   It’s still hateful and pissed off, yes.  And there’s a lot to do with what the world is really like, despite the wool people gladly accept over their eyes.  I just think the world is a much more horrible place than people want to realize, and there are always new examples of why and how, and new forms of madness.  There’s also some stuff that metaphorically reflects some of the shit that happened over the time we were making the album.  So there are a number of lines and sections that mean something different to me than they mean in the context of the song.  I’m not interested in explanations or sympathy, just in the idea that songs should be loaded with the most powerful things you can imbue them with.  The only thing the listener needs to know is that the stuff going on means something to the person they can hear on the CD.

WC: I wanted to ask you specifically about ‘Who Thinks Of The Executioner?’. 
What was going through your mind while writing the lyrics, or was there a specific 
event that inspired you?

VITRIOL:  Yeah, it was thinking about a section of a book I read which was sort of pleading on behalf of executioners.  The book’s called "Powderhouse", it’s the next book in the series after Moment Of Freedom where I adapted the title of the last album from, so it was a bit of continuity between the two albums.  It’s pointing out that it’s actually a brutal, inhumane institution which can have horrific psychological consequences for the people who have to carry it out.  There are so many suicides and serious depressions,  not to mention the fact of how unsuccessful some of the methods are, and how society tries to ignore the suffering they cause.  And one of the main things society tries to ignore is the figure of the executioner – they are charged by society with purging its consciousness, and with performing the acts which society demands, but is otherwise reticent to perform.  It’s a vile thing to read, but very powerful.  I can thoroughly recommend the book.

WC: Plans for the rest of the year? Finally going to mount that 2-year, 666-date world tour?

VITRIOL: We’ve been sorting out a string of dates in May through the UK and then into Europe.  That and the album release have occupied most of our time up till now.  All that’s now mostly taken care of, and we’re turning to look at playing in a few other places.  We’re hoping to get back over to America later in the year as we had a good experience with the gig we did in California a few weeks ago, so that’s what we’re looking at right now, plus a few shows that are being talked about towards the end of 2011.  We’re still shying away from long tours but we’ve got on quite well with what we’ve done in the past couple of years so we’re looking forward to getting out there.  So no massive world tours, but some touring is likely.  We’ll see what happens.  Also, we’ve just recorded a cover version of a song for a flexidisc series, so we’re looking forward to that coming out – I haven’t even seen a flexidisc in years.  The track was cool to make and we think it turned out really well.  Think it should be out some time over the summer.  That’s enough to be going on with for the time being.