ANAAL NATHRAKH have released their new opus “The Whole Of The Law” on 28th October and Dave Hunt talks to Metalpaths.com about their new creation, their policy of not publishing lyrics and the global situation of conflicts. A great interlocutor that leaves you with lot things to think on yourself…
Hello and welcome to Metalpaths webzine. How are you?
I am doing ok, thank you.
First of all congratulations foryour ninth release – “The Whole Of The Law “…
Thank you. I hope you enjoy it. I didn’t know actually, it was the ninth one. You can see how much attention we pay. (laughs)
Well how do you feel about it now that is out?
Good. I mean we are obviously happy with it, we wouldn’t release it otherwise. It’s good that it’s finally out there in the world. It was a bit of a blow to us that quite some time before the release somebody linked it into the internet, which was a shame. Not particularly for any other reason, just because it stops the building up anticipation. It makes things less exciting. Then finally it came out and we got hold of copies for ourselves. Personally I was very pleased with the way the copies looked. The CD looks like a book and we were happy with that. And then last Sunday there was a video shooting for one of the tracks. It is kind of an ongoing release, so it seems to us. It’s been exciting and we are happy.
What do you think about the reception it got from the fans?
We don’t get that much reaction from the people, because we don’t go looking for it. You could spend all day going to internet forums and facebook and things like that, but we don’t tend to. It is going to do one of two things usually. Either people will say they love it, and obviously you hope people will enjoy it, but if you just read a lot of people saying how brilliant they think it is, then you become a bit arrogant and you are not realistic. Or people will say it’s shit, it doesn’t matter if you release the finest album in the music history, still there would be one who say he don’t like it. And if you pay too much attention to that, you are going to fuck yourself up and you are going to end up miserable. So we don’t see too much reaction. The reaction we have seen, it has been positive I think. People compare it favourably to whichever of our previous albums is their favourite. It seems to be a bit of a buzz about the album and that’s good. Beyond that we try to concentrate doing good stuff, rather than worrying about everything else around it.
The title is referring to the famous quote of Aleister Crowley from the “Book of The Law”. But it has not the exact same meaning. Would you like to explain the concept behind it?
Certainly metal fans will probably recognise the Crowley origins. Anyone who knows Ozzy Osbourne is probably aware of Aleister Crowley. But it’s not intended to quote Crowley particularly. It’s not intended to bring up any of the ideas he meant. It’s just the format of the words, the rhythm and how it’s sounds right. It gets the meaning across in an efficient and someway poetic way. It is not meant to be a statement of Crowley philosophy. It was actually a conversation I had a couple of years ago and it dawned on me that in many ways the world is in a permanent state of anarchy. We have rules and laws and many people thinks there are things right and wrong and so on and so forth. That’s mostly an attempt to cover up and get away from the fact that anarchy really rule. At the time I was talking to this person about the way governments talk to one another and that definitely seem to be the case. This anarchy principal seems to be the case to me. We have international courts, but really it’s the matter of what one country can get away with. I thought about it more and it struck me that this is true on a personal level as well in extend. It kind of developed as ideas to think of this hysterical level of threaten over reaction in most conflicts. And here the title short of tied in with the title of one of the songs, which is “We Will Fucking Kill You”. That seemed a bit of adolescent as a title of an album, so we called it “The Whole Of The Law”. The point is again in the government level ISIS doesn’t just want to colonise rest of the world. It wants to destroy the western way of life. And on the other hand American generals don’t say we want to disarm them and talked to them as human beings; they use phrases like “we’re going to bomb them back to the Stone Age”. On all sides of these conflicts there is this hysteria and this mania that’s involved. And that seems to be true at a lot of levels. Gang violence to teenage kids, they don’t want to win a fight. They want to shoot the other on the face. It’s the obliteration and annihilation idea that seem to creep in to a lot of stuff. And all of that wrapped up. Maybe it’s a bit much to put on one title, but that’s the way it schematize with the album artwork as well.
The cover artwork actually sums up the concept of the conflict really well and it is taken from a painting of Bougeureau called “Dante and Virgil”.
Yes. “Dante and Virgil in Hell” I believe the original title is. I’d come across to Bougeureau’s stuff before. I was in a museum and I walked around the corner and his painting is very large. It is really striking. The way he is light and his realistic but also fantastical thing. It is really amazing I thought. So when we talked about how to treat the cover of this album, we didn’t know what we were doing. Maybe Mick (Kenney) would do a painting or some kind of collage or whatever. We were talking about ideas and we came across this “Dante and Virgil in Hell” painting. Mick took the central image from that and he manipulated it a little bit. He didn’t do much to it, but it had a strong effect. It looks like this timeless statue thing. I am really pleased with the cover. It’s a really strong image and I think it captures a lot of stuff that is going on in the ideas of the album. I think it’s really cool.
Usually Anaal Nathrakh do not publish lyrics, but this time there are some extended booklet notes for each song and a few lines of lyrics. How did you guys choose to do so this time?
We just decided to do it. Yes, we do have a policy of not publishing lyrics. The stuff that’s on there is more intended as an intriguing little bit as oppose to a full explanation. Hopefully if anyone is interested in this kind of thing, it will serve to give them some material to think about on themselves. Maybe look a few things up. It’s not handing everything over on a plate, even though there is some extra information. We were just trying to think of a way to make the packaging more special and Metal Blade suggested that maybe the CD would have this book format. So we thought it would be cool to put some things on there. A little bit more perhaps than normally. But nonetheless it’s still something you’ve had to think about yourself a little bit as well.
Will the policy stay that you will not publish lyrics also in the future?
Correct, yes. We published full lyrics on one song on “Passion” album and a few bits on the new one. But it’s not only lyrics on the new one. Sometimes it is a description of an idea or something about the song. Maybe we’ll do that again, I don’t know. But we are not going to start publishing all the lyrics.
You said before that you don’t go and look on the internet, but there are many that try to decode your screams and try to write down some lyrics. Have you ever looked at any of these attempts?
I’ve seen some people have tried, but I haven’t tended to spend a lot of time looking at them. Maybe some of them are some way nearby I don’t know. But I mean good luck if you’re trying to understand the words. Good luck! (laughs)
You are in charge of the lyrics in the band. I would like to ask you what inspires you to write lyrics? I know that you have a MA in philosophy. Does this helps the process?
Sometimes, to an extent. Sometimes I come across things that are suitable for lyrics, while I am studying. On the last album for example there is a song called “A Firm Foundation Of Unyielding Despair”. This came up as I was drawing from things I came across when I was studying Bertrand Russell’s texts. For the most part there is not much direct influence between the two things. It’s like two different facets of the same jewel or two different sides of the same cube or something like that. They kind of involve many of the same ideas, but in very different way. Generally it’s literally anything, anything I read, hear, see on the news or think about. I think that’s appropriate. If you are trying to do something that’s heart-felt, something you mean it, then you have to be open to all parts of your life and invoking them and bringing them up.
In the CD format of “The Whole Of The Law” there are also two cover songs. As far as I know the “Powerslave” was for Kerrang!’s compilation tribute to Iron Maiden. How did you decided to do “Man at C&A” form The Specials?
With the “Powerslave”, Kerrang! got in touch and said if we could record an Iron Maiden song whichever it is. And it happened to be the time we were about to record the vocals of the new album, so it was no bother. So we thought yes why not. Kerrang! is a bit more mainstream thing for us and we thought it would probably end up being fun to see the song on the CD next to some Trivium or Slipknot cover song. And it end up being a bit of fun. First of all I think we were thinking of another song, but another band had it already. So when we thought of Iron Maiden songs, “Powerslave” was the one that suit best the way we do things. I think it kind of turned out this way. The main riff once we done it in our style, it sounded like something Mick would write anyway. And again the whole idea of these guys being drag to hell, that’s quite nice. That’s our back garden (laughs). With the “Man at C&A” again a magazine asked us to do a cover song. It was Decibel this time. They didn’t tell us anything. We could pick whatever we liked and we both listened to quite a lot of different music and many unusual things and one thing we both liked is some of the old Special stuff. But again if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. It’s this band we listened to growing up and it’s the song about paranoia for an impending nuclear war, that’s Anaal Nathrakh territory. It’s a song that we know, but it would be an unexpected song from us to do. And I think it did. It was nice to do something unexpected and again we are very happy about the way it came out.
There is going to be a video, as you said earlier and as we’ve been informed via your FB page. May I ask which song will it be?
NO!!! (laughs) I think it’s more fun for people and more interesting if they found out with everyone else. It’s not finished yet. They shoot the action, but there’s still editing. I haven’t seen it myself yet. It might be shit; I don’t know (laughs). I don’t think it will be though, because the people certainly know what they doing. I am looking forward to see it myself and as soon we see it, then you’ll find out.
I think the story of you guys starting to play live for Terrorizer and BBC must be known already. And fortunately your performances are increasing year after year? Another tour was ended some days ago. How was it being on the road?
It was cool. We do things a bit different from a lot of bands. Yes we do play live, but we don’t go out six weeks on a bus at one time. We do it our own way. Yeah it was good, first of all because we had the opportunity to play a couple of new songs. Especially on “Hold Your Children Close…” I remember Mick telling how he enjoyed playing it live. It’s always nice to get out there. You can never predict what it’s going to happen. A couple of albums ago we did a song that has an opera bit in it and when we played in Bologna, Italy the crowd start singing it back to us. It was totally unexpected, but it made an impression to us. Stuff like that you don’t experience them sitting at home. At the moment now that we finished those tourdates, we just started to look to what to do next. Hopefully they’re going to be some shows coming up. We don’t know if it’s going to be a tour or some shows.
From what I perceive your lyrics and your attitude in general as a band are not in favour of humanity and I am also aware you are concerned of the shitty situation the world is into. What are your thoughts on the future of humanity?
On the further future, I find it hard to be optimistic, but I don’t know. The way things are going at the moment, I find it definitely hard to be optimistic. You know about the hard situation in Greece. And I feel that there are more of these in the air than it was before. It’s not official yet, but everyone knows that there is a cold war going on. Again! The way America and Russia are screaming at each other and the way they move other countries like they are on a chessboard, it seems to me a bit 80’s though with more high stakes. It could be serious trouble. And across Europe we have this political polarisation. On one hand we have left lining anarchical movements. Like Occupy movement and Anonymous, and on the other hand we’ve got far right people becoming much more prominent than they’ve had been for a while. A couple of years ago actually I was in Greece doing a show with Benediction and earlier from the show we were for a drink in a bar and all of a sudden everyone got short of frightened. The guys from the bar put tables in the front and I looked outside and saw that there was a Golden Dawn march. And that kind of things seem to be increasing. At the moment I find it hard to feel safe and secure about where the things are going.
I’ve read on the booklet notes that you are referring to the former Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis and his book. I am curious how do you see this financial crisis?
Oh gosh! (laughs) I have to say that any opinion on that is mine and only mine. The crisis is mostly caused by greed. It’s by people in a position of power, abusing that power for their own gain at the expense of everyone else in the world, especially those who have the least. It’s just a new version of an ancient thing. The reason Yiannis Varoufakis called his book like he did, I think, is to point out that this is an idea that goes back more than two thousand years. It’s a quote from a guy called Thrasymachus in something that Plato wrote. We are dealing with a new form of it, but it is a very old thing.
Birmingham – the place where you are coming from – is supposed to be the birth place of heavy metal. Bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest are responsible for this. And then again this city has offered us Napalm Death, G.B.H. and Godflesh among others. Influential bands for the extreme scene in general. How come and Birmingham is producing so many extreme bands?
I am sure there is a reason, but the thing is I could not know. I don’t have the experience of living somewhere totally different to compare it to. It seems natural here. The one thing I will definitely say is that often when people try to find an answer to that question, they say that Birmingham is a heavily industrial area and things like that. That I think is complete bullshit. There are industrial places all over the world like that and they didn’t invent heavy metal. Ok. UB40 is from Birmingham as well. And no one is saying that it is a Jamaican paradise here. From where I am sitting right now grindcore was invented about a mile away and a mile on the other direction is a road where UB40 have their houses. Well the answer is I don’t know and anyone who says he does, probably they don’t either.
Thank you very much for your time Dave. It was a great honour and pleasure talking to you. May you have the last words for our readers.
I will keep it simple. I will just say thank you. If you read all that until the end of the interview, I hope it wasn’t boring. Thanks for the support.