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Your grandma thinks all metal sounds like this - 85%

Empyreal, February 9th, 2014

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.