Call me Russ L

Submission is for those who don’t want their elbow joints popped

Posted in Music by Russ L on 8 January, 2006

Originally posted on 20/12/5.

I’ve got to admit that I had a touch of trepidation about finally seeing Anaal Nathrakh live. I was certain that they wouldn’t be anything less than good, but on record they are possessed of a genuinely cold atmosphere. The thought that their live experience might not capture it and instead be merely that of any everyday metal band (cf: Mayhem) occurred, and worried me slightly. I was determined to put such concerns out of my mind and think positive thoughts, until I realised that positivity simply isn’t appropriate for this most necro of bands. I eventually decided to try not to think about it at all.

Narcosis opened, a band loved and feted by many. I saw them in February and (while not disliking them) was fairly nonplussed. This time I liked them a lot more. They play fast, that’s beyond doubt, and ‘brutally,’ if that’s the adjective you choose to apply to this particular set of aesthetics. The most important thing is that their grindcore came across as a whole pile of fun this time – there seemed to be actual some hooks buried in the hyperspeed, the one guitarist staring at his hand on the fretboard with an expression of sheer horror was hilarious, and the singer was a big fat bloke. Fat people are always funny. I still didn’t find that they conveyed any actual hate/anger/emotion to me, but that’s OK – I was able to enjoy them on an entertainment/pop level. Yeah, I said pop. Come on then, Narcosis fans – let’s have the angry emails.

Ramesses are a band I absolutely love, and were on in the middle slot. Mark Anthony Greening is the most fantastic drummer on his planet. I don’t care if he’s not as fast as ‘x’ or doesn’t have the jazz timing of ‘y,’ he is the human incarnation of Animal from The Muppets. This is absolutely fantastic in 99% of all circumstances, but in this instance he smashed his snare after only one song and the band didn’t really fully recover from the loss of momentum incurred while he had to run offstage to get another. They were still great, of course, managing to be both entirely grooving and entirely destructive at will, but it was probably the least of the four times I’ve seen them. The opening riff to “Master your Demons” remains the greatest of recent times.

So, did Anaal Nathrakh live up to or fall foul of expectations? Both and neither, really. They were definitely good, though. They weren’t as brrrrrrrrr-chilly as on record, not by any means, but they were very effective. While the background videos were largely inconsequential (they would probably have been highly disturbing in other circumstances, but it’s all about the context. “Cor, metal band trying to be unpleasant, there’s a new one”) the metal hit hard and it hit fast, and conveyed at least a fair bit of malice with it. Their live sound incorporates a nice mix of brute force and more insidious venom, and (it’s probably only because I’m used to them, but) the songs are identifiably different enough to prevent the whole lark from becoming wearying. There is a little part of me which, while not failing to acknowledge for a moment that they were very enjoyable, thinks they weren’t quite good enough to be worth abandoning the ‘never playing live’ mystique for, but even said little part of me acknowledges that it’s looking at things in the wrong sort of way.

Great gig.

~ Russ L

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