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Anaal Nathrakh - "In The Constellation Of The Black Widow" (CD)

Anaal Nathrakh - "In The Constellation Of The Black Widow" CD cover image

"In The Constellation Of The Black Widow" track listing:

1. In The Constellation Of The Black Widow (4:45)
2. I Am The Wrath Of Gods And The Desolation Of The Earth Music (2:24)
3. More Of Fire Than Blood (3:24)
4. The Unbearable Filth Of The Soul (3:31)
5. Terror In The Mind Of God (3:27)
6. So Be It (2:22)
7. The Lucifer Effect (3:54)
8. Oil Upon the Sores Of Lepers (2:47)
9. Satanarchrist (4:40)
10. Blood Eagles Carved On The Backs Of Innocents (3:17)

Reviewed by on July 15, 2009

"Hatred has never sounded as exciting as it does on 'In The Constellation Of The Black Widow.'"

The word extreme gets tossed around a lot in contemporary metal, with the usual reaction either one of eager curiosity or eye-rolling disdain. What qualifies a band to be more extreme than another? Is it their daring lyrical content, speaking of subjects only the foolish would attempt to transcribe about? Is it their music, a cacophony of noise that literally causes temporary deafness and bleeding of the ear region? For some, Daath is the epitome of extreme, while others bow to the blasphemy of Vital Remains and Cannibal Corpse. However, one band seems to never get a nod in this category or any recognition for what they bring to the table on an extremity level; Anaal Nathrakh.

For the better part of a decade, the UK duo has been secretly hiding under the shadows, churning out slabs of brutality. Mixing aspects of grind, death, and black metal, the band is akin to the sound of Cattle Decapitation and Napalm Death partying together on a cocaine binge. Songs fly by in a daze; a wall of sound that never dissipates for even a split second. “In The Constellation Of The Black Widow” is Anaal Nathrakh at their most primal, even more so than 2007’s “Hell Is Empty, And All The Devils Are Here.” It is quite obvious that time has not dulled the sharpness of their sound whatsoever; in fact, it has morphed the band into a juggernaut of aggression.

Of course, this revelation doesn’t come without a price. “In The Constellation Of The Black Widow” is not an album that invites you in for a cup of tea and biscuits; it knocks down the front door, throws the television through the window, and fornicates on the carpet like a common Labrador. First-time listeners will have a rough ride to traverse; the programmed drums, demonic vocals that shift at the turn of a dime from piercing shrieks to deep bellowing grunts, and the harsh guitar tone lend to a weighty album.

“In The Constellation Of The Black Widow” blazes by at lightning speed, the ten tracks hardly breaking the half-hour mark. “So Be It” and “I Am The Wrath Of Gods And The Desolation Of The Earth Music” only last two minutes each, but both pack a wallop. “Satanarchrist” is an updated version of the 1999 demo track from “Total Fucking Necro,” while Repvblika vocalist Zeitgeist Memento adds an unholy touch to the torment that plagues “Oil Upon The Sores Of Lepers.”

Patience is most certainly a virtue, as more rotations of the album reveal a catchy side to Anaal Nathrakh. The melodies are there, hidden beneath the chaos and sonic battery. Vocalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L. aka Dave Hunt has one of the widest ranges in metal, with his clean vocals being the standout style. They appear through the darkness, an almost angelic light singing of annihilation and punishing in the name of God, making songs like the title track and “More Of Fire Than Blood” stick to the listener like crazy glue on the brain.

While Hunt handles all the vocals, Mick Kenney is the man behind all the instruments. His guitar playing avoids complexity, opting for a sheer barrage of varied and memorable riffs. Occasionally, a lead breaks through, adding a touch of technicality to the proceedings. The bass work is hardly noticeable, save for the quick appearance in the introduction to “The Unbearable Filth Of The Soul.” If Hunt is the madman behind the wheels of the death machine, Kenney is the resolute direction king, pushing the album constantly through areas of sorrow and pain.

The lyrics are full of bile and destruction; at least, the portions that can be understood. With Hunt’s screams and howls most indistinguishable, it can be tough to decipher the lyrics, especially since Anaal Nathrakh doesn’t print any for the general public, a trait that the band has followed since day one. Usually, a few lines are clearly heard, mostly during the clean sections.

If there was one group that could properly be labeled an extreme band, it would no doubt be Anaal Nathrakh. “In The Constellation Of The Black Widow” is a breath of fresh air in a music scene where mediocrity and stale song structures are starting to become the norm. Most albums like this are tossed aside, labeled as nothing more than dissonance and unbearable. Beneath the rawness lies a unmistakable melodic side that warrants repeated listens to fully grasp. Hatred has never sounded as exciting as it does on “In The Constellation Of The Black Widow.”

Highs: Dynamics between harsh riffs and catchy choruses, Mick Kenney is a musical genius, vocals are varied and unpredictable

Lows: Might be tough for casual metal-heads to get into, lacks the immediate impact that songs like "Virus Bomb" and "The Final Absolution" had on the last album.

Bottom line: Anaal Nathrakh continues to show that they are one of the most extreme bands in metal today with the brutally satisfying "In The Constellation Of The Black Widow."

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)