For the latest in our Don’t Look Back in Anger series of 2020 Retrospectives, We welcome Anaal Nathrakh, of who’s 2020 album Endarkenment Sentinel Daily‘s own Michael Stronge said: “I repeat again that I just can’t see anyone else on the planet coming up with something as nigh on perfect in terms up extreme metal for a long time to come”… That’s a big wrap, but one our man in the old Hellbastard tour shirt stands by… On with the questions!

For the benefit of our readers, please identify yourself and what you do in the band… “I’m Dave, also known as V.I.T.R.I.O.L., the singer of Anaal Nathrakh”.

It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance! What sort of a year do you think it’s been musically, notwithstanding the chaos going on in the real world? And what were your musical highlights in 2020? “Hmm, to be honest it’s kind of hard to think past the catastrofuck of the last twelve months here in the UK! But purely musically, yes, I’d say 2020’s certainly had its highlights. Off the top of my head, alongside our own album Endarkenment (obviously), recently I’ve enjoyed Anatomie Des Scheiterns by Hyems, the new Napalm Death album Throes of Joy…, and No Good To Anyone by Today Is The Day. Outside of metal stuff, I’ve also been chuffed with Visions of Bodies Being Burned by clipping, and the new Idles album. And it’s not quite 2020, I think it came out just at the end of last year, but Thanks for the Dance by Leonard Cohen deserves a mention”.

A good list. That Napalm album is getting lots of love from our correspondents! Any lowlights for you? Or do you prefer to try and stay away from things that are going to make you disappointed? “To stay away from things that make me disappointed, I’d have to live on a different fucking planet. But musically? Nah. Even if a new album or whatever isn’t what you hoped, there’s always plenty of amazing stuff you haven’t heard yet, so just go and look for that instead. Life’s too short. Much too short”.

We can’t talk about 2020 without mentioning COVID- how did it impact on your band specifically? And how did you combat COVID setbacks? And, moving ahead, do you think the way we do things like touring in the future will be able to take any positives from what’s happened since March? “Well, we had a new album come out, with a posh video and some great reviews, some chart appearances and so on… And then we couldn’t play any shows to support it or to seize the moment or whatever it is that shows do. And because we live on different continents, there’s no prospect of ‘virtual’ shows or anything like that, either. To be fair, I’m pretty ambivalent about those anyway, but the chance to at least consider that sort of thing would have been nice. So yeah, the pandemic has kicked us squarely in the nuts. But at the same time, we’ve managed to come through it and put an album out that’s had a strong release, made a cool video, got on a few charts around the world and so on and so on – there’s definitely a glass half full way of looking at the year for us too”.

If a worldwide pandemic had happened twenty years ago it’s arguable that the effect on bands may have been even worse given the absence of the internet and social media – Do you think the fact that fans now have a much more direct line to bands meant that social media played a part in helping bands survive this period of financial instability? What do you think of the rash of pay per view concerts we have seen spring up recently? “By the same token, twenty years ago there’d have been a lot more physical sales, and streaming generates bugger all in comparison, so it’s swings and roundabouts. But yeah, social media must surely play a role in keeping bands alive in people’s minds, especially when there’s not much prospect of seeing them play. Personally I’m wary of streamed concerts because I value the visceral, physical aspects of shows too much. So it’s not something I’d immediately rush to embrace. But then we’ve never done one, so maybe they’re great and we just haven’t realised it. But like I say, in our case we live on different continents, so unless someone invents a sci-fi style transporter sharpish, it’s all moot for us anyway!” (laughs).

And what about the ‘Zoom Jams’ – are you a fan? If so, what ones should we be seeking out on the internet to cheer ourselves up? “Haven’t seen any, and don’t intend to”.

Fair enough! Shows are tentatively being booked now across the world for 2021 and beyond – what does the next twelve months hold for you? “It’s still too early to know, if you ask me. I totally understand people being eager to get things moving, but wishful thinking doesn’t kill viruses. We’re under fifty and in good health, so we’ll be the last people, along with the majority of our audience, to get any vaccines or anything. So fuck knows when normal can happen again. All I can say is that in my head there’s a kind of live music equivalent of the ejaculation scene in Scary Movie. What could you call that? A cumcano? Yeah, no idea when it’ll be, but I’m hoping for a musical cumcano at some point in 2021″.

It’s our end of year round up, so of course our thoughts are turning to the Holiday season. What’s best for you? Christmas or New Year? And what will you be drinking? “Strange as it may sound for a grim misanthrope, I do actually sometimes get infected by Christmas, at least a bit. I suppose if you can’t try to forget that the world is a hellish cesspit at Christmas, when can you? The cynicism usually reasserts itself well before New Year arrives, but at least there’s a small window around turkey day. I’ve become a horrid pretentious cunt about beer recently, so I actually ordered some Christmas booze yesterday – some Lervig 3 Bean Stout. It’s about twelve per cent, looks like black oil, and you have to be an utter knob to drink it. So I can’t wait”.

I’m afraid I’m a connoisseur of premium strength, mass-produced European lagers myself. Talking of which, you’ve been invited to the Sentinel Daily office party -we’ve let you take charge of the stereo for five songs. What will you play? “Hmm, depends on how the party is going, and how late it is. If it’s a good old pissfest, some King Diamond or maybe Michael Jackson. If it’s a headbanger affair, Blinded by Fear by At The Gates. And if it’s far too late, Circle of Dead Children or maybe a tip of the hat to Australia and Portal, to make myself happy at everyone else’s expense so they fuck off home”.

Good plan. I used to work in a record shop where we used Altars of Madness by Morbid Angel in just such a way on a Saturday aftenoon. That’s enough festive fun – here’s your chance to speak directly to our readers – what would you like to say to them? “Hope you’re ok. Weird coming from an Anaal Nathrakh person, but a) god knows enough people aren’t OK, and b) we had a great time playing in Australia both times we’ve been there, so thanks if you came along. Hopefully we’ll be back at some point before too long. And in the meantime, give the asshole that 2020 has been an appropriate sendoff, and be glad you don’t have our shower of idiots in charge. Always go for the throat”.

Great advice. Thanks for taking part!

Read Mick Stronge’s review of Endarkenment HERE