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Not the stylistic trainwreck it is on paper - 80%

Jiggy, April 29th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2012, Digital, FETO Records

I'm not really in the habit of reviewing singles but this was too ineresting to pass up. My bewilderment that Anaal Nathrakh would attempt to cover British ska legends The Specials could only be surpassed by my surprise that it actually works. This cover is generally quite faithful to the original too, though there's obviously no sign of the skanking guitars, languid trombone and Jamaican patois of Neville Staple. Instead they're replaced by crushing drums and relentless guitars, the former unerring in its use of double bass and the latter creating some surprisingly groovy riffs without losing any of the intensity. The only time they let up is a small break preceded by some groovy guitar slides about 2 minutes in, though only to warn you of your impending nuclear annihilation. This is of course all a foil for V.I.T.R.I.O.Ls vocals which are fantasticly sharp, reaching deep down into an apparently bottomless pit of hatred. The lyrics are delivered with enough, well, vitriol that you don't even question the appearance of Mickey Mouse in a metal song before the track ends in a crescendo of crazed howling.

The Mickey Mouse badge told, Ayatollah at his feet
You drink your oil you schmuck, we'll eat our heads of wheat
But I'm the man in grey, I'm just the man at C & A
And I don't have a say in the war games that they play.

What this all creates is a very dark suffocating atmosphere right from the opening words 'WARNING. WARNING. NUCLEAR ATTACK'. Nuclear apocalypse being a suitably dark matter for such a song no doubt. And it's here I think that Anaal Nathrakh have really pulled this off. You might think Ska is too bouncy and happy to create brooding atmosphere or talk of dystopia but few bands really capture the austerity and the hopelessness of many in the Cold War era, of Thatcher's Britain in The Special's songs like 'Ghost Town', 'Do Nothing' and of course 'The Man at C&A'. Anaal Nathrakh succeed in channeling this and on top of it add their own, ahem, stylistic musings.

Now, who wants to see Suffocation cover Bad Manners?