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Although not a big fan of grindcore, but being a big fan of black metal, I admit I was surprised by the fact that mixing the two genres has resulted in such animalistic, grotesque, chaotic and noisy spectacle that can be called In The Constellation Of The Black Widow. This is the first Anaal Nathrakh work that I have listened with care, and more than once, and I was surprised not so much with the violence and aggression of the songs (which I was expecting from a band that mixes grindcore with black metal) but by the quality and diversity of them.
This is not one of those grindcore albums whose tracks all look the same, or one of those black metal albums that uses the same formula over an hour of music, and you have the impression of having heard a set mixed by DJ Varg Vikernes. No. In The Constellation Of The Black Widow seems more like the mix one good Dark Funeral album with one good Napalm Death album (i.e., Diabolis Interium with Utilitarian).
From the first track, which entitles the album, the carnage is merciless. Subtly you see yourself immersed in a storm of melodic but fast and punishing riffs, which does not fall short in terms of quality and precision, intense and constant blast beats, various sound effects and harsh guttural vocals, so harsh, loud and overlapping that seem to have been recorded during the response to a joint psychiatric seizure of a group of people. V.I.T.R.I.O.L., the man behind the vocals, also impresses by his ability to drive magnificent clean vocals during the chorus of some of the tracks. He sounds a bit like Killswitch Engage at some moments, but overall his vocals are more on the Christian Alvestam side of the force that the death/metalcore side.
Basically, there is no time when we can breathe in peace during the almost 35 minutes of In The Constellation of the Black Widow. Some tracks are more “down tempo”, like The Unbearable Filth of the Soul and The Lucifer Effect, but even these tracks are so full of chaotic vocals and harsh and cutting riffs, that they may lead the listener to an epileptic attack in real time.
Anyway, In The Constellation Of The Black Widow is all about riffs, vocals and chaos, absolute chaos. It accomplishes its mission to present a perfect blend of genres with measured doses of black metal and grindcore, not disappointing anyone who might enjoy one or both genres. The lyrics are often incomprehensible, except for the choruses and “slow tracks”, but it makes little difference when you have an instrumental part so prevalent.
Originally written for naturezadocaos.blogspot.com.br
Anaal Nathrakh is pretty much pure musical chaos, from the blasting riffs and drum-work to the cacophony of raging noise that is the vocal attack – though varied up here with some deep muttering and almost Blind Guardian-esque clean vocals, which sound about as cogent with the music as a beautiful flower in the middle of a war-torn battlefield. But that’s the point, you see. Anaal Nathrakh don’t seem to have ‘harmony’ in their vocabulary … their whole sound is based upon assaulting the listener from every angle and leaving the listener bloodied and battered on the ground, lacerations upon every inch of bare skin, teeth ripped out, skull cracked.
In the Constellation of the Black Widow is one of their more structured eviscerations of music, at least compared to their earlier output. Since this album, they’ve become even more eclectic and diverse. But this is basically the streamlining of the Anaal Nathrakh sound – with all the furious chaos harnessed with just the right dose of melody to make the songs flow. It’s much more polished than say, The Codex Necro, but it’s still not anything you’d want to show your mom. The band combines a black metal base with a complete lack of tact – you won’t find any atmosphere here. It’s difficult to talk about what this sounds like because it’s almost a complete black hole in terms of music – it’s just pure aggression and fury. The production is heavy as fuck and suffocating, too, and the band sounds precise and deadly in their craft. There is no sloppiness here.
All the songs on here are short and to the point. They rip and thrash with a furious intensity, the riffs bludgeoning away like sledgehammers tenderizing raw meat, the vocals ripping through like buzzsaws. I can’t really name many standout tracks, but because the whole album is a standout – it all flows together as a cohesive unit. But the opening descent into hell of the title track is probably one of the more iconoclastic moments on display, and melodic (by comparison) tunes like “More Of Fire Than Blood” and “The Lucifer Effect” become more identifiable than usual – maybe just to my own power metal-loving sensibilities, though, as the other songs are no slouches and bring plenty of verve and bite to the table.
As much as it’s going to sound like a sensitive spot for fans of the band, I have to say the whole sound is pretty much a big gimmick – thus why I can’t really rate this higher. I have no doubt that this is the kind of music the guys want to make, and they are not playing to any crowd. But they’ve kind of written themselves into a corner with their style. The sound is pretty much all about one thing – look at how depraved and mad we can sound. Every songwriting decision they make is basically about that. For all that, they do a remarkable job of whipping out bone-crushing riffs, grisly rhythms and larynx-murdering vocal theatrics, but overall I have to be in a real specific mood to play anything by these maniacs, and I don’t think I could really call it a masterwork or anything because of that. In the end you can only take so much of the ‘Thrakh sound.
This is great music for when you’re angry. It’s music to destroy worlds to, and when you want something bloodthirsty and rage-filled, Anaal Nathrakh is a choice pick, maybe better than most. If not for the distinctly metal riffing style this would be comparable to Converge in the vocal department, and the sound does share a sort of similarity with bands of that ilk – if only a spiritual one, based on the attitude and aesthetic at play. In a sense this is a sort of point of no return for metal, as it can’t get any more aggressive than this kind of music and still retain a sense of metalness at all. After a certain point, it would just become noise. Frankly, the whole sound is kinda like what your grandparents think Slayer and Metallica sound like – just a battering chasm of pure rage-filled noise. But if you’re indoctrinated to the metal cult already, you’re too far gone and you will see this for the beauty that it is.
There are very few albums as relentless and extreme, yet as beautiful and masterful as this. This is possibly some of the most inaccessible metal i've heard, and that's a good thing. This is a true test to how extreme your tastes get. This is a very strange combination of black metal and grindcore, with the former being more prominent than the latter, hence AN being more commonly referred to as a black metal band than a grind one.
The album begins with the sound of some poor soul sounding like he's slowly going insane, then in kicks this slow paced riff and then all hell breaks loose! Dave "V.I.T.R.I.O.L." Hunt lets out an ear splitting black metal shriek that puts most of the Norwegians to shame. Dave Hunt is possibly the most diverse vocalist in extreme metal, effortlessly switching between throat shredding shrieks, guttural growls and melodic clean singing, and he's brilliant at each style. I'd talk about his lyrics, but I have no fucking idea what he's saying, and they've never published their lyrics, but one can assume from the song titles they deal with the typical topics of Satan, torture, misanthropy and all that.
While Dave Hunt is the sole vocalist on this release (amazingly), Mick Kenney is the sole instrumentalist. Providing an assault of tremolo infested black metal riffage, ranging from fast and aggressive to almost doomy and epic, such as for the last two minutes of Satanarchrist (clever title). There is also a lot of focus on lead work, and a few memorable solos, such as on the title track and More of Fire Than Blood. The drumwork is very solid. Lots of frantic blast beat abuse, but what do you expect from a band that plays a combination of the two most blast beat riddled genres in metal? The bass can be heard (surprisingly), but you really have to look out for it. It provides a nice extra layer of heaviness to the overall destructive music.
This is some very extreme music for extreme people. While it has it's appeal to any fan of metal, it might be just a bit too extreme for those who aren't into anything heavier than Lamb of God, but chances are if you're on this website you're long past that stage, so buy this album now. (BUY IT! Only CD quality does it any justice)
Anaal Nathrakh are a black-grind duo from Britain consisting of vocalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L. and instrumentalist/writer Mick Kenney, previously known as Irrumator. Consistent with their penchant for achingly long song and album titles, In the Constellation of the Black Widow is the two’s fifth studio album.
Anaal Nathrakh sound less and less black metal every time I listen to them. There is always the characteristic underlying eerie melody to their spastic sound, and every few songs there is a sung chorus, but other than that this band is very much grindcore, and at some points skirts the edge of death metal. V.I.T.R.I.O.L.’s vocals are almost painful to listen to, less like screaming and more like agonized howling. Mick Kenney’s writing and performing is similar to that of the best grindcore bands: with blistering speed, but also blisteringly catchy. As an added bonus, the two seem to like beating amateur “core” bands at their own game, via V.I.T.R.I.O.L.’s well-placed pig squeals and the breakdown in “The Lucifer Effect”.
To summarize up front, In the Constellation of the Black Widow does what every album by any band should do, which is be better than the previous album, right? On Anaal’s previous album, 2007’s Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here, the band experimented with slower tempos and almost more melodic songwriting. It made for an interesting but ultimately disappointing record. On In the Constellation… the heavily layered sound from earlier records like When Fire Burns Down From the Sky, Mankind Will Reap As It Has Sown noticeably returns. This whole album has a dark, thick feel, while Hell Is Empty… almost sounded thin, like a demo. Now, Anaal really pull out their full potential with Kenney’s insane shredding, violent fretwork and freshly polished knack for writing the most brutal melodies. Dave Hunt’s (V.I.T.R.I.O.L.’s not-so-mild-mannered alter ego) vocals are brilliantly caustic, and despite being absolutely agonizing, never stray into arrhythmia. His dynamic singing in “So Be It” and “More of Fire Than Blood” and his omnipresent supersonic shrieks and burbling pig squeals merge perfectly with the raging tide of embedded hooks and rabid blastbeats that flood the entirety of the album.
But what makes In the Constellation of the Black Widow really tick? The supposed “black metal” elements. Mick Kenney’s blindingly hook-filled riffs and the handful of sung choruses add the final flourish that brushed away my expectations. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the almost misplaced solo at the end of “Terror In the Mind of God” and it’s Amorphis-esque melo-death quality, and by the brilliant chorus in “More of Fire Than Blood,” which is so forceful it’s practically thrown in your face. Unlike on previous albums, the cleans and the ferocity slur together in a significantly improved manner. The short clips of clean vocals in “So Be It” blend with the screeches so excellently it makes me wonder what happened with the sloppy sounding chorus in “The Final Absolution” from Hell Is Empty….
The songwriting is amazing for the genre, the instrumentation is immaculate, and the vocals are polished. So, to summarize again, In the Constellation of the Black Widow is a superb album. All professionalism aside, I love it to death. But after countless listens to this album, it’s not quite a classic for me, as much as I want to say it is. Something about it falls just short of a 5-star, it’s more of a blazingly entertaining record and less of a life-changing musical experience. However, it IS Anaal Nathrakh’s best work hands down, and I challenge them to do better with the next record.
-originally written for www.sputnikmusic.com
Extreme, violent, relentless, unsettling these are all words that are used to promote the tripe that usually gets peddled these days. Whether it be Grind, Death or Black how many bands that come your way, hailing the apocalypse, actually deliver anything but a whimper of the promised brutality and insanity? Not many I bet.
Enter Anaal Nathrakh!!!!!
The British duo have been around since the late 90s, bursting onto the scene with an ugly little gem entitled ‘The Codex Necro’ which made no small amount of noise among the hordes at the time. They were lugged into the Black Metal scene, yet displayed a far more ferocious and grinding approach than anything else that was worshiping goats or Odin at the time.
Since then its been a bit of a hit and miss affair, while being consistently intense and true to their approach they failed to truly carry the flag of their own making into the millennium and cement their place in the halls of Hades. Clean vocals surfaced and a metamorphous began, but still there seemed to be something missing……until now.
In the Constellation of the Black Widow is their latest sick offering and could best be described as accessible madness. All the aspects which make the band so unique and destructive are still in play, just better utilized and controlled. Some past works were a bit jumbled or disjointed but Widow is a much more focused and dangerous beast.
The intensity and aggression of the vocals have always been a driving force of the band: anguished screams, distorted crazy Patton yells and guttural growls are again all leading the charge, but it’s the better use of the clean vocals (utilized for a few albums now) that help offset the crazy and amplify the chaos. This is seen none better than in the opening title track where you are bombarded with the fast, the slow, the groove and the blasting throughout, only to confront the crisp clean ICS Vortex-esque bridge into the spoken word-static screamed chorus, what a ride!!!!!!!!
Trying to genre define their style is also a wasted exercise as elements of black, grind, death and even some melodic death blend together in a maelstrom of chaotic bliss with neither taking enough of a front seat to demand recognition over another. One thing I can say though is it is Extreme, but not in a fucked up Portal type of way. This is extreme, this is wrong, but this is also engaging. If Dimmu Borgir, Napalm Death and Ministry ever spawned a child then maybe this is what they’d sound like.
Followers of the band might not be totally blown away by ITCOTBW and it is in some respects a more refined and more creepily crafted progression from 2007s Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here, but new listeners will be quite unpleasantly surprised and should instantly convert to temple of the Nathrakh
Every once in a while, you get albums that are, for all intents and purposes, perfect. Not technically flawless - I believe such an album does not exist. But you'll find a certain rare few that will undoubtedly stay in your heart for years, due to the artist's ability to capture my heart and create a beautiful work of art. And despite the cheesy description that would lead you to believe I'm about to name a Radiohead album, you probably know that the album I'll talk about today has a very different mindset - one that focuses on nothing but creating the most suffocating, angry music known to man. Anaal Nathrakh's In the Constellation of the Black Widow is an album that will fall into the ranks of legends of extreme metal. And oddly enough, this album doesn't use any complicated formula to achieve this - its overall makeup is quite simple.
Two-man band Anaal Nathrakh obviously lucked out when it came to this album - ITCOTBW has such a simple game plan that it should result in some terrible cluster of bland riffs. What they have basically done involves taking riffs similar to pop in catchiness and memorability, downtuning them to transform them into metal-worthy songs, adding a huge load of treble, and finishing the vitriolic mess off with vocals that are an absolutely furious blend of grindcore screeches and black metal rasps. As I've said, it sounds like an accident waiting to happen, but it works somehow. Every single element of the band flows extremely fluidly together. Nothing feels out of place, and there's not really much place to improve on any of the songs Anaal Nathrakh have written for this album.
Most of the power and identity this release possesses stems from vocalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L., who probably has one of the strongest voices I've ever heard. Throughout the album, he lets loose plenty of rage-filled screams that would make Seth Putnam jealous, in addition to the occasional Exhumed-style growl - it's not guttural, but it's pretty goddamn low. Part of the beauty of this release, though, comes from the other half of the vocals - the operatic vocals that often grace Anaal Nathrakh's choruses. They feel like a darker version of power metal vocals, and they succeed in giving the band's music an ominous quality that couldn't be replicated with raspy screams alone. More importantly, it gives the album variety - something I always found black metal to somewhat lack.
The band has composed a seemingly endless amount of catchy, memorable, and ominously melodic riffs for the album. Almost all the riffs are tremolos, and they alternate between creepy, epic, momentous, or a combination of any or all of those three traits. Be it the main riff to "Blood Eagles Carved on the Backs of Innocents" that gives the listener the impression that the universe is on the brink of destruction, the riff throughout "So Be It" that feels like the sliver of hope in an ocean of despair, or the chorus of "Oil Upon the Sores of Lepers" that assures the listener all hope is dead, all the riffs invoke something in the mind. The guitar tone plays just as big a role as the actual riffs, though - the massive, industrial tone Anaal Nathrakh use adds twice as much substance to each riff as there would normally be. The combination of these two elements - great riffs and a crushing guitar tone - ensure this album's place in time. The drums are programmed, but I honestly am unable to tell by ear alone. They sound surprisingly organic, and it's probably the best-sounding drum programming I've ever heard. Even the cymbals - usually the telltale sign that a band's drums aren't real - sound very clean and resonant. As for actual playing style, expect a bunch of blast beats and beats based on the bass drum.
All the songs on this album are great, but there are a few that stand out - "Satanarchrist" is a re-recording from one of Anaal Nathrakh's first albums, and it's probably one of the most ominous tracks. At 0:51, the album utilizes its guitar tone to its full potential as the band uses it to create one of the most emotive tremolo riffs of all time. "Oil Upon the Sores of Lepers" has one of the simplest, pop-like song structures, but most of its riffs focus on going up the scale and playing quick triplets of 16th notes, which gives the album a bit more variety. Finally, "More of Fire Than Blood" has the most beautiful usage of V.I.T.R.I.O.L.'s operatic vocals, and thus the strongest chorus of the whole album.
This is an album beyond great - this is one of the fabled albums that will stand the test of time by all means. Its relatively simple formula is combated by the addictive melodic and creepy riffs, and the end result is a black metal album that is as easy to listen to as a pop album. In the Constellation of the Black Widow is one of the best albums this world will ever see, and I advise anyone who has not listened to it to do so promptly; the longer they wait, the less opportunities they have to experience this masterpiece.
Anaal Nathrakh is a band that needs no introduction. These guys specialize in some of the most barbaric and downright venomous music ever committed to tape. Since their debut back in 2001, Anaal Nathrakh has been the musical personification of hell, continually setting the bar for extremity with each passing release. Just when I thought their previous album couldn’t be topped, these Birmingham terrorists have proven me wrong yet again. “In the Constellation of The Black Widow” is perhaps their most sprawling, epic work to date. Each song is a monolith of beauty and destruction. In addition, the production on this album is just impeccable. The tone sounds incredibly sharp and clear, totally immersing the listener in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The closest approximation would be the sound of their third album, Eschaton, only heavier.
Anyway, the album kicks off in a great manner: Doom/death riffing complete with a miasma of disturbed laughter, slowly beckoning the listener to enter its depraved world. About maybe fifty seconds in, the song then completely obliterates all in its path. Everything from Irrumator’s awesome tremolo riffing and Dave Hunt’s trademark vocals are in absolute top-notch form. The title track is an awesome way to start the album, and is assuredly one of the strongest openers they’ve ever done. “More of Fire than Blood” is another highlight. Anaal Nathrakh is known for their rousing choruses, and this track contains one of their finest and addictive yet. One thing I’ve always appreciated was that they never fully compromised brutality with melody, a common stigma with modern extreme metal. Everything is ridiculously catchy as they are heinously destructive. Other tracks have the choruses take a backseat, allowing Irrumator to demonstrate his tremendous guitar prowess. Just like the rest of their discography, the riffs encapsulates everything from doom, grind, and finally to Gothenburg-esque melodies. Irrumator is such a versatile guitarist, the fluidity and diversity of his style is nothing short of masterful. Complimenting the guitars are Dave Hunt’s unbearably terrifying vocals. With new and improved production values, he has never sounded painfully exquisite as he did here. Again, I can’t stress enough how important his contribution are to Anaal Nathrakh’s sound. Without his presence Anaal Nathrakh simply won’t be the snarling, ravenous beast we’ve all come to fear and love. From his epic, almost operatic chants to his crazed, ferocious howls this guy can pull it all off. The second track in particular is just batshit insane.
“In the Constellation of the Black Widow” also features incredible drums. Even though they’re programmed they do sound incredibly life-like and are played at absolutely scorching speeds. But honestly, they’re also damn good songwriters. The songs are decidedly more complex and layered than anything they’ve done before, lending the album tons of replay value. I still haven’t gotten sick of “More of Fire than Blood” simply because of how catchy it sounds. Never before had Anaal Nathrakh sounded so wonderfully diverse and full of conviction as they did here. While their previous album had incorporated a fair bit of death metal influences, here the band seems to regress back to their grind roots. Don’t let the switch to a more straightforward style fool you, this is undoubtedly Anaal Nathrakh’s most stylish and refined effort yet. In the end, imagine if all of the world’s hate, rage and disgust were condensed to one album. It would probably sound a lot like this. “In the Constellation of the Black Widow” is a shattering experience and is a welcome addition to their already stunning discography. Not too many bands can match the sheer, caustic savagery displayed by these Englishmen. The fact that these guys have been going around for twelve years now is incredible. In short, this gem is everything an extreme metal album should be: passionate, memorable, cathartic.
Whenever I hear the phrase “anaal nathrakh” I always come back to the Undertaker during his “Ministry of Darkness” period, uttering this and other speaking-in-tongues occult words during mock rituals, and the only good thing to come out of it was the acquisition of the Acolytes (best tag team EVER!). But once I grew up, became increasingly bitter and realized the faux dramatics of professional wrestling became too hackneyed to take seriously, the words dropped off the earth for me until they appeared in an issue of some metal rag, which mentally brought me back to the Ministry. These days, however, ANAAL NATHRAKH is apparently a British blackened ambient group that specializes in disturbingness for the sake of evoking a pit of ultimate darkness sans Sir Simon Milligan, but they’d been so underground that us in the United States of Whatever wouldn’t be able to get any of their recorded works as easily as we could others’.
The name kept popping up once and again, and in that regard I had to get one of their albums just to see what they’re truly all about…
What works in their favor, from what I can notice, is their rather innate ability to convey musical bothersomeness, using black metal and churning ambience to evoke a thick, curtain of blackness that is disturbing the its absolute core. Rarely does one come across a blackened metal act that is able to convey emotions of fear and dread as well and as naturally as these guys, where nothing at all makes sense save for the complete and utter annihilation of a sane mind by way of a suffocating dark. Theirs is of an unpredictable nature, using darkened ambience while thankfully eschewing the irritating BURZUM worship others of their stylistic ilk seem fit on emulating to their broken hearts’ contents, where melodic elements, a violent heaviness that’s rather uncommon in their specific genre (I can’t recall any other black metal act that makes their musical violence as horrific as this) and a multi-voice approach that’s both fanciful (the lower growls and clean vocals) and humorous (the out-of-control high-pitched shrieks that make up the majority of the vocal work that can at times be annoying to listen to). That unpredictability is mostly reserved in the musical side of things, where the two-ton-brick of guitar riff work, harmonic leads, and percussive insanity orgy-whack the ever-loving hell out of the listener so many times that, as the album proceeds, it gets a bit harder and harder to take it all in; the miasma of chaos is so thick that, once you get halfway through, you may want something more sugar-coated to bring you back to the hear-and-now. Truly something to be in the mood for, songs like “In the Constellation of the Black Widow”, “I Am the Wrath of Gods and the Desolation of the Earth Music” and “Satanarchrist” (one of the best song titles I’ve heard in a while) have the tenacity to pull every bit of life out of your soul and leave you as little more than a bludgeoned, emaciated corpse. Wicked, to say the least.
In the end, ANAAL NATHRAKH’s latest surprised me with its damn near constant state of violent terror. Those who want something to make them check the closet and under the bed for bogeymen should give this a listen or two. You’ve been warned.
I always have a fair bit of apprehension towards new albums by bands I'm fond of, as I always fear they will have moved away from everything they're known for, and the new album would be tame in comparison to former glories. This phobia was originally brought on by Cradle of Filth, who seem to get worse with every album released, to the extent that I haven't bought an album of theirs since "Damnation and a Day". However, there are exceptions to this traitorous trend, and today, exactly one year after its release, "In The Constellation of the Black Widow" proves to be one such an exception, showing Anaal Nathrakh to be anything but the norm.
On this album, Anaal Nathrakh have realised the importance of progression, but applied it in such an innovative way that they surpassed all the pitfalls of their generation. This album is nothing short of astounding! Previous AN albums were never tame to begin with, but "In The Constellation..." goes beyond anything they've done before in terms of utter brutality. This is certainly their most technical album yet, the pinnacle of prowess by one Mick "Irrumator" Kenney, proving to be a brilliant songwriter and executor of all instruments.
The songs on this album are much more structured than previous Anaal Nathrakh compositions, making this album their most mature effort to date. One would almost call this album their most accessible offering, boasting uncharacteristic moodswings leaning toward the dramatic, along with some of Dave's best clean vocals yet, lending further depth to the enormity of it all. Before Anaal Nathrakh fans stop reading and vow never to buy "In The Constellation..", however, I should elaborate and reassure on the alien phrases and Nathrakhian blasphemy i just uttered.
While this may be their most accessible album to date, it is by no means less brutal. VITRIOL's vocals can still strip paint off walls, the drums are still viciously blasting and aggressive, and the guitar and bass still conveys crushing rage in every riff. This is still undoubtedly Anaal Nathrakh, except every element of their sound is better than before. They've taken every aspect of their uniquely destructive music further, creating a new benchmark in extreme metal. Yet, amidst all this brutality, there is an epic and even melodic undercurrent, surfacing to fence off the chaos and occasionally calm the beast. Even though there are many new elements to the AN sound, none of it is forced, it all fits naturally. Organic insanity? Harmonious misanthropy? You bet your ass.
From the frenzied start of the title track, unrelenting through "I am the Wrath of Gods...", to the overtures and melody in "More of Fire Than Blood". From the manic vocals and pummeling heaviness of "The Unbearable Filth..." to the bipolar emotional shift on "The Lucifer Effect" and the irresistable groove of "Oil Upon The Sores of Lepers", finally finishing all too soon with the epic, incredible "Blood Eagles Carved...", this album is unmissable from start to finish. But besides the songs I highlighted here every song is addictive, every track will inevitably become a favourite, and each one for a different reason. Anaal Nathrakh has never sounded so diverse, and they're all the better for it. This album will surely become a classic, it's already been a year since it was released and its effect is still profound.
The annihilating instruments, guitars ripping and drums pounding, the apocalyptic vocals harshly terrorizing and simultaneously engaging the listener, the dark nuance and melancholy undertones. This album is epic, the cry for armageddon is felt in every element on every track. Just when the world was finally getting used to AN's ferocity, "In The Constellation of the Black Widow" came along blacker and even more twisted than anything before it, and yet with it Anaal Nathrakh have cast their net wider still. The world will never be the same again, and every extreme metal act will undoubtedly have to rethink their approach and take notes after hearing this enormous album. Today, a full year later, "In The Constellation..." still amazes and enthralls me, and familiarity has done nothing to soften its blow.
In short, if you don't pick up "In The Constellation of the Black Widow", you will be left behind, because its epic crescendo's and pre-apocalyptic, post-everything assault on your ears will change the face of metal forever. Sheer demented brilliance.
At its core, Anaal Nathrakh is still a blast of spiteful vitriol that could poison your lawn if applied even liberally. Two British bastards using drum machines, guitars and the evil corners of their minds to defecate on your soul. In the Constellation of the Black Widow is the band's fifth album, and though the speed, chaos and hatred are still present, something feels lacking. The sheer holocaust that was The Codex Necro has been replaced by an increased use of cleaner vocals, more accessible rhythms and melodies.
But do not write the album off just for this reason. When it comes to writing, the band is still keen and some of the tracks on this album are awesome and bewildering. "Oil Upon the Sores of Lepers" may break out into some sheer melodeath riffing you'd expect of Soilwork, with chugging grooves to boot, but it's still a kickass track I've listened to many times. "The Lucifer Effect" is carnal and bloodsoaked, with injections of Swedish-style death grind and black metal. "The Unbearable Filth of the Soul" sounds like a goateed Strapping Young Lad after having their hearts cut out in a Satanic ritual and without the dopey Townsend vocals. Quite sick and an inevitable catalyst for some violent act, somewhere down the stretch. "More of Fire and Blood" just fucking peeled my face clean off. Right down to the bone and bloody shell. You should see how hard it is to get a job these days.
Mix-wise, the record sound quite crushing. Whether snarls or clean vocals, the boys sound fantastic on the album, and with Anaal Nathrakh, diversity never seems to be a bad thing. The melodic edge given to some of the tracks actually gives them an 'epic' vibe. In the Constellation of the Black Widow may not have that 'pure filth' feel of their previous albums, in fact I can imagine this could be a first album for many new fans to get into. Some elitist snarks might cry foul, but in the end, it's another good album worth hearing from one of England's most insane bands.
Yes, yes! finally! With Anaal Nathrakh's Hell is Empty... listeners(at least myself) saw a pretty large shift to a more death metal approach, one that lacked the vigor, filth, and brazen frenzy that their earlier work contained. With In The Constellation... listeners are lucky to hear Anaal Nathrakh combine the unrelenting fury of their demos and first LP as well as Domine Non Es Dignus and Eschaton's cleaner production, stronger use of melody as well as clean vocals.
I always found Anaal Nathrakh's filthy sound to be their strongest and most individualistic attribute. The barrage of vocals, layered in all types of screams, gurgles and what not put against relentless blast beats and machine like guitar riffs gave Anaal Nathrakh a very angry and violent vibe. This comes out plenty within this album, but in addition to the fury there's plenty of catchy and melodic guitar work, not to mention great leads and solos and catchy, powerful sounding choruses. The seamless combination of all these factors makes In The Constellation... the most fluid, well rounded, and mature album they've released to date.
One of Anall Nathrakh's strongest points are their vocals. From distorted and industrialized howls, to low chants, to more typical death metal vocals, more typical black metal vocals, and even great clean vocals, Dave Hunt carries out an amazing performance, one that defiantly allows the album and the band to retain their own sound. I can't stress enough how diverse, powerful and important the vocals are and how much I enjoy them.
While this is easily my favorite Anaal Nathrakh album, and one of the best albums of 2009, there remains two issues. The first: when listened to on sub par speakers or headphones, a lot of the music gets lost because of so many layers and different sounds. Many times the higher screams, along with the cymbals and higher guitar sounds can blend together and become hard to distinguish, and for many at times might sound like there's too much going on. The second issue is that songs like In The Constellation Of The Black Widow and More Of Fire Than Blood are very similar with their anthematic clean chorus, much like older tunes (When Fire Rains Down... and Do Not Speak come to mind), which isn't really an issue, but more of a concern that they might become too comfortable with that said format and rarely stray from it. One can make the judgement that they might have 4 types of styles and simply mix and match them to effortlessly create each song.
At times Anaal Nathrakh are their harshest with tortured, industrialized screams and a vicious riff amidst blast beats, but at other times Anaal Nathrakh are their most civil and digestible. An example is at 2:09 in Terror In The Mind Of God the guitars go into a very Gothernburg type of riff. Another example, which I find funny, is a friend of mine who is mostly into stuff like Killswitch Engage found this to be an enjoyable listen because he loved the chorus of More of Fire Than Blood. In this case, being more accessible has only helped and improved Anaal Nathrakh. Parts like 2:44-3:09 in The Lucifer Effect truly have an epic grandeur and are highlights of the album.
The icing on the cake for this album is their revisit to my favorite Anaal Nathrakh song, Satanarchist. They do an excellent job with this song, changing it enough for it to sound new and exciting, but at the same time staying faithful to the demo track.
A really stellar album. Full of scathing blast beats and tremolo sections, heavy palm muted stomps, catchy and anthematic choruses and everything else in between. Powerful, ravenous, melodic and catchy, this is their peak.
Originally written for http://chainsawjustice.blogspot.com/
Review originally published at http://www.teethofthedivine.com by Erik Thomas
As England’s most extreme export since Napalm Death have made their transition from apocalyptic black metal to grindcore, they have managed to retain some of intensity and ferocity of The Codex Necro, though far less caustic, and have been able to introduce some love ‘em or hate ‘em clean croons amid the mechanical, robotic blasting and cleaner tones. However the fact is, the only real black metal element left is the frenzied shrieks of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (Dave Hunt). So those looking for a return to The Codex Necro had better continue to look elsewhere.
Basically, if you enjoyed Eschaton or Hell Is Empty, And All the Devils Are Here, you will enjoy In the Constellation of the Black Widow as it essentially follows the same template with the ferocity you’d expect, but like Hell Is Empty, And All the Devils Are Here is quite as commanding and memorable as Eschaton.
After a slow start, the opening title track treads identical territory as “Between Shit and Piss We Are Born” or “When the Lion Devours Both Dragon and Child” from Eschaton or “Virus Bomb”, “The Final Absolution” and “Shatter the Empyrean” from Hell Is Empty, And All the Devils Are Here; vicious, churning blast beats and feral scream that break into a unexpected clean chorus. However, “I Am the Wrath of Gods and the Desolation of the Earth” delivers an unexpected, 2 minute blunt force trauma showing the ‘Thrakh can rip your face off as and when they choose.
And thus is the formula for the rest of the album as the album alternate between fierce chorus filled tracks like “More of Fire Than Blood” and “The Lucifer Effect” and lumbering tracks like “The Unbearable Filth of the Soul” and “Oil Upon the Sores of Lepers”- which could have come from any of the last three Napalm Death albums. In truth, it actually sounds a bit formulaic and overly familiar, especially some of the choruses. Though no less enjoyable, and some subtle melody hidden in the likes of “So Be It”, “Satanarchrist” and closer “Blood Eagles Carved on the Backs of Innocents” keep things a bit interesting.
Production wise, things sound a bit fuller and richer even than Hell Is Empty and the clean tones will be sure to off put already peeved black metal purists. The end result is what you expect at this point in Anaal Nathrakh’s career, but In the Constellation of the Black Widow does come across as a bit redundant and rehashed from the last three albums, despite its intensity and vicious hooks. I’d like to see the band start to morph again and see what they can deliver next time around.
Generally, new albums by older bands who have already released good albums tend to fall short, leaving much to be desired. "The Unspoken King" and "Suffocation (2006)" come to mind immediately. However, Anaal Nathrakh does not follow this scheme. They've in fact made their most devastating, brutal, and violent album yet.
"In the Constellation of the Black Widow" (a very, very cool album title, might I add) starts off with the title track, leading in with some incoherent noise, and then getting right into a slow, doom-sounding riff, which changes into some sick, grindcore-tinged black/death metal brilliance. Dave Hunt, a.k.a. V.I.T.R.I.O.L. has truly outdone himself on this album. His screams are still terrifying, and he has multiple variations of them now, rather than just the grating screams found on "The Codex Necro." His low, rumbling growls are well done, and his clean singing is almost operatic.
"I Am The Wrath Of Gods And The Desolation Of The Earth Music" is another fantastic track, despite the fact that it clocks in at only just under two and a half minutes. More frenzied programmed blast beats, sick vocals and cool riffage. ALong with the gut-busting brutality, there is a very good amount of melody here, which Anaal Nathrakh does very well. Aside from that, chugging style riffs have never sounded better on tracks such as "The Unbearable Filth of the Soul" and "Oil Upon the Sores of Lepers." "Satanarchist" might be the most melodic track, and possibly the standout of the album. You actually hear a breakdown (wait, Anaal Nathrakh,? Breakdowns? No.) at around 1:45 into "The Lucifer Effect," but don't panic; it's the only one on the album, and it's not boring or repetitive or slow, and it shows Anaal Nathrakh's versatility.
Mick Kenney is a fantastic guitarist. Maybe not the most skilled, Muhammed Suicmez-type guy, but he definitely knows his stuff. He assembles a collection of awesome, tremolo picked riffing and melodic solos and throws them together into a rich collage that makes every song highly enjoyable.
The downside of this album is that it's too damn short. It's only 32:40. Sure, it's a half hour plus of almost flawless music, but it's only a half hour nonetheless. Also at times, the vocals are a little far back in the mix, which is a bummer. Attribute that to the otherwise fantastic production. Aside from the select few tracks I've mentioned so far, every track matters; there's virtually no filler. Musically, the album nears perfection. I can't find anything bad to say about the music. I mean, it might not be for everyone: Anaal Nathrakh isn't exactly an easy band to "get." But there's plenty of melodic black metal, punishing death metal, and pure speed to be found here to satisfy die hard Thrakh fans and fans of brutal music. Check out this album as soon as possible.
"Terror in the Mind of God"
"The Lucifer Effect"
Yes! They're back. Kinda.
A strange intro filled with noises, laughs, and pure madness turned into soundwaves drives the listener to the entrance of the Black Widow. Inside awaits a monster, which is the latest effort by british musicians V.I.T.R.I.O.L. and Irrumator. And this monster is angry. Angry and hungry.
Welcome to the Constellation of the Black Widow, a place with no peace.
Let's put it this way, Anaal Nathrakh has taken a step away from their death-metal-influenced previous effort, and is going back to their more extreme roots. The first song stars with doom-death-ish riff, which made me believe the album would be even more slow and experimental than Hell Is Empty[...], but soon the band slaps me in the face and I am surprised as the music turns into a storm of blastbeats and tremolos. The sound (or tone, rather) of the guitars reminds me strongly of Eschaton, which, in my eyes (or ears, rather) is a really, really good thing. The riffs are typical but never boring or innovative Anaal Nathrakh riffs, sliding tremolos creating musical soundscapes, running up and down the strings and letting in a seemingly random and incredibly insane solo and some powerchords now and then for good measure. The velocity and dexterity demonstrated in this album is incredibly extreme, only interrupted by brief moments in which some of the experimental death metal-like sounds of the previous album can be heard at some parts of certain songs, more prominently and for example, at the beginning of track 4 and track 8.
Riffing gets from plain aggressive, to apocalyptically romantic, to dark, to doomy, without much effort from the performer, much to the pleasure of the listener. Thick bass lines back the guitar lines most of the time, giving the whole thing a really heavy feeling despite the speed of the songs. Drums are just fucking fast, but really this is nothing new to this band or most black metal bands. One could admire the programming ability of the band but otherwise the drums are pretty unremarkable.
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. hasn't been this extreme since The Codex Necro (he might be even more extreme now), and yet his vocals are more diverse than ever, low, harsh whispers coming from the sides of one's ears as if some kind of devil is growling at one's back, the most terrorized shrieks I've ever listened to in my life, as if coming out of a tortured soul's mouth, straight from hell, melodic chants filled with messages of the End, choking sound, cries for help, weird demoniac, almost animalistic noises, all of them blend into a choir of destruction and death.
Anaal Nathrakh's aggressivity is at it's all time high, they're just fucking ANGRY! The band's mood is just getting more and more negative and destructive with time, as can be seen reflected in the title songs and lyrics, not only in the music itself. These are obscure of armageddon, devils and fire, with accompanying and fitting music. This reveals how much these guys are going back to their extreme roots and beyond, leaving the experimental quasi-death sounds of their previous album in favour of an ever increasingly extreme sound, almost bordering grindcore.
All in all this is a fast, short, angry black album by great musicians, filled with eccentric and organic riffing, amazing and ever-changing vocals, which marks both a return to the roots of the band and a step forward, towards evolution. This band, as I ever so subtly implied at the end of the previous paragraph, is now closer to brutal death metal and grindcore than it is to black metal, but the core melodies and vocals still tie them somehow to a black metal profile, not to mention their past musical efforts. To close a review of such a particular effort by such a particular band, I could say that this album's sound is probably what it would sound like to mix such an elegant and well-thought album like Eschaton and mixing it with the bold rawness and aggressivity of Codex Necro.
Originally written for the paper version of the Terror Cult Zine