It was the other week at Candlefest in London that reminded the Deciblog that Dave Hunt, vocalist and master of ceremonies for Birmingham/Orange County(!) duo Anaal Nathrakh, had dutifully filled an optional extra on an email interview. It was right around the time when Hunt was mooting the idea that the Deciblog had imbibed amphetamines—which is crazy; we’re all about prescription painkillers and white russians—that it all came back.
Hunt’s challenge was to sum up Anaal Nathrakh’s scabrous oeuvre in five films, five pieces of cinema—extreme or otherwise but probably (moderately to extremely) extreme—that were the embodiment of the band’s chaotic take on black, death and other metal. Like, we struggle sometimes with all this, what with the fucking X-meets-Y contextualization, the fucking Mayhem at 45rpm played over a gabber test track recorded in a wind tunnel… The silverback mid-castration rite for vocals et cetera. As Hunt himself put it: “Large calibre machine guns shooting at JCBs in the middle of a war between demons and cattle that have been torn in half.” That’s the kind of effect they’re going for.
Despite coming out of left-field and covering the Specials “Man at C&A” for our Flexi Series (see above), Anaal Nathrakh’s musical influences are generally well-documented, so instead of getting him to make us a mix-tape or something, we thought we’d get Dave to take to the movies. There’s no Watership Down or Toy Story 3 so fear not, the saddest films ever made didn’t make the list, which is a shame.
Dave Hunt: “Thou shalt, having been made the whole of the law. Profoundly affecting in numerous ways—it should be required reading/viewing for everyone in the Western world. Taken in concert with Brave New World, despite their differences in character, [it is] one of the most chilling things imaginable when you look back up at the world around you.”
Dave Hunt: “That brutality and evil lie barely restrained beneath civility. I was astonished by how much of a sense of place and intensity it managed to get out of such a Brechtian, false set. But from a band point of view, the fact that the whole drama seemed so inevitable—not predictable, but inevitable—and the redemption so justified. What the hell are we?”
Dave Hunt: “Nebulous, intangible terror. And at the heart of darkness lies an almost ineffable, horrified and insane… What? Humanity. That’s Kurtz’s paradox, and in a way, Anaal Nathrakh’s too. The re-contextualization from imperialist Africa to Vietnam is inspired. And the performances—I’ve been told that the nervous breakdown at the start is at least partially real, and a fractured Brando made it seem almost autobiographical. That sense of ‘genuine nightmare’ is a big part of what we aim to do.”
Dave Hunt: “Nihilistic, horrific, even though you see one of the most brutal things at the start, it just gets worse and worse as you understand more and more. The ending, with all its happiness, is completely soul destroying. A stunning achievement to tell a story backwards and still make the last thing you say a revelation that reaches right back to the start. Vile and futile.”
Dave Hunt: “Principally just one bit, that we call ‘the hell part’ —the reconstructed log they find. We both tend to think that being in the trenches of world war one would have been pretty close to hell on earth, but that 15 seconds or so of footage is a brilliant evocation of the genuine article. It’s pretty close to the kinds of sounds and images I have inside my head sometimes.”
…And, some bonus material/deleted scenes to make up for the horrendously dated Event Horizon, which not only proves that Sam Neil belongs on an adventure park populated by dinosaurs but that scouting out the aforementioned “log scene” in Event Horizon is a NSFW activity, for real:
Dave Hunt: “I would have included the Exorcist because we’re both fascinated by that film, and Mercedes McCambridge‘s performace was a big influence on me, but the log scene in Event Horizon just pips it in Anaal Nathrakh relevance—and you said five!”
How could we have missed the influence of a bronchial voiceover actor putting the words “Your mother sucks cocks in Hell” into a possessed little girl’s mouth?