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Anaal Nathrakh’s last album, the formidable Hell is Empty and All the Devils Are Here caused a bit of a sellout chant to break out among the faithful. I thought it was a great album and showed the duo progressing quite naturally from Eschaton. Now, two years later, the band is back with In the Constellation of the Black Widow. I’m not sure if Mick Kenney and Dave Hunt have been paying attention to the chants or if they’re just really pissed off with the state of the world but either way Anaal Nathrakh has created a monster.
The album literally opens with the sound of chaos as grinding guitars, a constantly pummeling drum machine and Hunt’s processed vocals come at you through layers of noise. Hunt’s ability to come up with catchy clean choruses is also in full view here but the difference is that the chorus is backed up by utterly grinding metal riffs. The structure of each song is mostly the same; chaotic black metal riffing, a constant pummeling drum machine, Hunt’s vocals that go from tortured screams to clean melodic singing and layer upon layer of filth. Other stand out tracks include More of Iron than Blood with a superb chorus, The Unbearable Filth of the Soul which has a slightly more accessible groove but is dominated by a completely manic vocal performance from Hunt, Terror in the Mind of God which uses some death metal riffing to terrific effect and a reworking of Satanarchrist from the Total Fucking Necro demo that is slightly more melodic and a whole lot more memorable.
There isn’t a bad song on In the Constellation of the Black Widow. The band has managed a perfect balance between eardrum piercing brutality and melody while retaining the odd touch borrowed from popular modern metal. Hunt’s vocals sound awesome and Kenney’s ability to mix and match brutality with melody and chaos within tightly structured songs is unmatched. Also, there are layers and layers of sound at work here which can sound very messy without the benefit of a good set of speakers.
Is this the band’s best yet? I don’t think so. The Codex Necro is still an album that gives me goose bumps. However, having said that, In the Constellation of the Black Widow is perfect for what it is. A superb exercise in brutality from a band that is progressing with every album and playing completely by their own set of rules. In the Constellation of the Black Widow is one of my favourite albums of the last year.
Label: Candlelight / FETO
Year of Release: 2009
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