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Anaal Nathrakh - February 2, 2010 - Whelan's, Dublin, IRE

By: Ken McGrath

An Anaal Nathrakh gig is a very rare thing. Nothing to do with hen’s teeth or the rarity thereof. but still such an irregular occurrence deserves an outpouring of fans from wherever they call home and the steadily filling venue speaks testament to that. They featured heavily in Blistering.com’s recent round-up of the top albums of the past decade and while each chose a different record the best Nathrakh album might still be up for debate but it’s proof that these guys are doing something special nonetheless.

Their debut show on Irish soil promises to be a good one as they provide the opening segment on this date of their joint headlining tour with Marduk (who won’t be reviewed here). However, technical problems arise before the band even walk onto the stage though. Above the mixing desk in Whelan’s, which is where the projector also is, there’s a low ceiling. This means that rather than having their accompanying films played out on the wall above the stage it’s being projected directly at it. So when they do stand before the baying crowd the footage can’t be seen, because it’s flickering across them.

That’s a minor disappointment though, compared to what happens once they erupt into their particular blend of industrial black metal frenzy as the sound begins to go horribly wrong. The microphone goes dead mid-song, without vocalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L. seeming to notice. He can be just about heard screaming his throat raw above the drums which are proceed to dominate the searing guitars. After about four songs with plenty of between track talking to make sure that such and such can be heard in the monitors and that the audience can hear every throat ripping scream and crushing guitar riff we finally get into the swing of things. It allows the band to settle into things and gives the audience an opportunity to gel and build some momentum, eventually culminating in some sporadic stage-diving.

The older tracks (“Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes”) are more overpowering in the confines of Whelan’s and descend into a sheer blinding red mist while songs from their last two releases (“In The Constellation Of The Black Widow,” “The Lucifer Effect,” “The Final Absolution”) match the brutal fury with moments of locked in groove. That added extra texture gives slightly more dimension and they’re the ones that stand out more tonight. Especially live this is important, so rather than a non-stop barrage or runaway train intensity, there are moments when the brakes work and you can really get into it. There’s certainly no room to get a rock spread on though, as the whole venue morphed into a giant bottleneck.

Ending on a high note with “Pandemonic Hyperbalst,” it’s a pity that due to the difficulties at the start the set seemed to zip past meaning the aural apocalypse that may have been expected unfortunately never materialised.


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