July 2, 2009 | | 4.5

Anaal Nathrakh, In The Constellation of The Black Widow

Anaal Nathrakh: In The Constellation of The Black Widow

I’d be lying if I said that I was at all familiar with this British duo. In fact, I’m down right pissed that I haven’t heard anything from them prior to this blasting, skull fuck of an album. Anaal Nathrakh, featuring Mick Kenney and VITRIOL (Benediction), have bred some basement dwelling, unholy beast with their combination of black metal and grind-core with plenty of noise thrown in for good measure. In The Constellation of The Black Widow is seriously one of the most violent sounding albums I’ve heard all year, and it’s even got fucking clean vocals peppered throughout it.

I’m at a loss as to where to start with this album. There’s simply too much to digest after more than a few listens — manic drum blasts, black metal riffing, grinding destruction and a layered vocal delivery that’s so demented and varied that I just don’t know how to respond to it (even if a good portion of them are toyed with in production). I mean, how do you sum up everything that the band throws at you in each of the 10 tracks on this album. I will say this, however, if this album’s not in every “Top 10” list by year’s end, it will be a grave injustice. Holy shit.

In the Constellation of the Black Widow
The title track opens up the album with some static atmospherics and vocal chaos for the first 20 seconds or so before a distorted scream and big riffs come in with thundering drums. The track progresses rather slowly for a few moments, ultimately building to an explosion of layered screams, noise and grinding drums. These screams have to be those of the damned — no living being can produce such vocal destruction and still be able to communicate afterwards. The clean vocals in the chorus just before the two minute mark initially throw you for a loop, but really fit the overall feel of the song beautifully, keeping you on your toes for the next volley of vehemence. Underneath all the layered vocals, driving riffs and animalistic drums is a melody that I wasn’t initially expecting after the first blast of grind drums and distorted guitars. This is one hell of a way to open an album.

I am the Wrath of Gods and the Desolation of the Earth Music
The second song on the album can’t possibly keep up with that insane opener, can it? Oh hell yes it can! A sick scream and grinding drums get it off to an aggressive start. The vocals are tortured and evil as fuck! The underlying melody is a nice contrast to the raw screams and unrelenting drum work. These guys have packed more vehemence and vitriol into the first minute of chaos than most bands are able to fit in an entire album. The layered, screams and noise at 1:35 is a bit frightening to say the least.

More of Fire Than Blood
Sweet mother of all thing unholy. “More of Fire Than Blood” continues the aural devastation with blasting drums, layered screams/growls and plenty of texture smothering the entire mix. The clean vocals come in just before the one minute mark, but don’t make the song any less aggressive, especially when it’s followed by the Hellish blasts and screams that ensue. I’m not usually a fan of post production tricks in my music, but Anaal Nathrakh use all the right techniques at all the right places in just the right amount — adding to the growing chaos instead of dominating it with effects. Wow, what a track. The lead that ends the song is just the icing on the cake.

The Unbearable Filth of the Soul
I love the opening noise and drum combination that gets this one going with the big scream. There’s a sick groove to the first few minutes on this one, even with the tortured vocals smothering the entire thing. Again, the aggression and drive of the band is showcased so well on this song that I’m rendered speechless. There’s just so much to absorb in each song that you’re left confused and looking for shelter from this storm of grinding chaos. The slow down and grooving riffs at 2:25 is a nice change up from the driving pace the band has been pushing with so far.

Terror in the Mind of God
I’m not sure about this being a terror in the mind — certainly a nightmare though. The opening riff work is evil beyond belief, especially when combined by the rapid fire drum work. “Terror in the Mind of God” also sees the introduction of a new level of vocals. Deep guttural vocal chaos is added to the mix adding a huge amount of depth to the song’s overall feel. I’m not sure if the deeper vocals are natural or if they are affected by the production — either way they’re sick as hell. Anaal Nathrakh rarely give you any time to breathe so take advantage during any slow down you can — like the melodic lead work just after the two minute mark.

So Be It
“So Be It” starts out with some melodic guitar work over pile driving drums and relatively straightforward vocals that are of the raw black metal style. This is one of the “cleaner” sounding songs in that it’s not covered with a static and industrial mayhem. The pace is pretty steady and slows a bit with the layered vocals at the chorus. Everything comes to a head just after the one minute mark with big screams and a great lead. I’m digging the groove to this one. One of the shorter songs on the album, it’s also one of the catchier tracks.

The Lucifer Effect
Dark, ambient noise builds quickly to evil riffs and blasting drum work as “The Lucifer Effect” gets off to a sick start. The vocals are deep and completely indecipherable gutturals. This song is beyond evil in every sense — layered demonic growls, black metal riffs and unstoppable drum work. This song certainly does feel as though Lucifer has had a hand in it’s creation. Even the pseudo breakdown around the two minute mark is layered with an unholy touch. The cleaner vocals on this one are alarmingly from out of no where and when mixed with the screams create quite a dynamic sound.

Oil Upon the Sores of Lepers
The thick riffs that start this one along with a huge scream have a great groove to them, especially as the group settles into the chugging mid-tempo pace. It doesn’t last forever, however as the drums pick up the tempo and melodic guitars dance in the background, behind the layered screams. This one, while retaining the band’s unique sound, is a completely different monster when compared to the rest of the album. The off kilter tempo changes and vocals delivery make it a stand out track. It’s a relatively short track, but very well could be my favorite if I were to have to choose one at gun point.

Evil guitars and galloping drums get the blood flowing for this next song. Not only does it start off with memorable guitar work, but that first 45 seconds is rapid fire intensity. It’s followed by a great groove and series of riffing as the screamed vocals come in. There’s a whole lot of atmosphere to this song that sets a dark, desolate mood, even through the blasting intensity of the drums.

Blood Eagles Carved on the Backs of Innocents
“Blood Eagles Carved on the Backs of Innocents” closes out the album with a slew of distorted noise, vocals and guitars. The track opens like a runaway train, blasting its way through crowds of people with caustic screams and manic drum blasts. The layered vocals are covered with sludge and toxic static, creating an overwhelming affect on the listener. This one has some of the more production affected vocals found on the album, but they don’t sound too overdone. This is a strong closer to the album, but not my favorite track.

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Favorite Tracks:
All of them

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