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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.