Reviews Anaal Nathrakh In the Constellation of the Black Widow

Anaal Nathrakh

In the Constellation of the Black Widow

This is an album that I wanted to like as soon as I saw the cover art, but in the back of my mind I was afraid I wouldn’t after the slightly-too-polished and slightly-too-death-metal Hell is Empty and All the Devils are Here from 2007. But In the Constellation of the Black Widow turns out to be one of the British duo’s best albums, on par with The Codex Necro and Eschaton.

In the Constellation of the Black Widow is a return to proper form. Musically it picks up where Eschaton left off with epic but succinct grind-infused black metal with a hateful bite. As with the band’s previous work, this album is a bit more polished than most of the black metal I listen to, but this is righteously pissed mechanized terror, so the riffs and drum machine have to be tight. Out of Anaal Nathrakh’s discography, their latest may not be the most sonically raw, but definitely has the rawest emotion.

The riffs are some of the freshest and most vicious spawned by Anaal Nathrakh yet, equal parts galloping punk/grind fury and metal technicality. I couldn’t even imagine this band with a real drummer because the drum machine fits the music perfectly, lending a cold, inhuman blast of velocity. The vocals are simultaneously the most brutal and versatile they have ever been, covering all manner of high-pitched and guttural screams, and even in-tune singing. The result is a dense, uncompromising assault of musically adept metal fueled by contempt for humanity with no pretensions, no filler, and no self-imposed boundaries.

There is a lot of interesting interplay on this album between the fast parts and groovy, mid-paced parts. One of the most amazing things is Anaal Nathrakh’s ability to seemlessly integrate melody into its songs, without any kind of watering down. There are some choruses with operatic vocals (see “More of Fire Than Blood”) that, if attempted by some other band, would sound like a cheap In Flames ripoff, but in the context of an Anaal Nathrakh song sound like the rallying cry of an atavistic heathen army overrunning the earth. Even the songs that are built around what would be considered breakdowns, like “The Unbearable Filth of the Soul” and “Oil Upon the Sores of Lepers” are infinitely denser and harsher than anything released by a metalcore band.

This album is fairly short - thirty-four minutes to be exact - but that is the nature of the beast. Quit complaining, burn it to a CD with Eschaton (they fit perfectly), and throw it in the car stereo, unless, of course, you are predisposed to road rage because this album is so pissed off it will probably put you over the edge. I consider myself to be a fairly easygoing person, and I even find myself driving a little faster and more aggressively than normal when I've got In the Constellation of the Black Widow playing in the car.

On a side note, since it’s old news, any band that writes a song about Terence McKenna’s Timewave Zero (see Eschaton) is okay in my book.

8.8 / 10Tyler
KFAI - Undead
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8.8 / 10

8.8 / 10

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