I foresee a significant dip in sales for the beast known as ANAAL NATHRAKH, not because the music is piss-poor but simply because their albums should only be available at gun stores and military depots. Their sound is a weapon... music of mass destruction. Hell, if these Brits get any heavier the music will cross over into pure white noise, the kind that would tear at the very fabric of reality as we know it. I guess what I’m getting at is that “In The Constellation Of The Black Widow” is yet another AN scorcher and easily one of the best albums I’ve heard so far this year.
This year has seen a few great albums cross through my CD player but very few of them have been as instantly enjoyable as ANAAL NATHRAKH’s latest effort. “Eschaton” was an amazing album, and while the follow-up “Hell is Empty And All The Devils Are Here” was by no means a lesser effort I have found myself listening less and less to it as time went by. Well, this new one has firmly re-entrenched my interest in the band and I couldn’t be happier with it. If you loved the demented fusion of Death, Black, Grind, and Industrial Metal of “Eschaton” then you should go ahead and grab this album without a moment’s hesitation. “In The Constellation...” continues in the same vein but as a whole the album feels even more intricate and well thought out (i.e. mature), with each of the seemingly disparate elements getting a chance to shine – either in unison or individually. The title track is a perfect distillation of this band’s sonic venom – a gloriously heavy sledgehammer of sound that is best described as the devil spawn of a MAYHEM/STRAPPING YOUNG LAD/MARDUK 3-way. Awesome, in other words. Said awesomeness continues in the form of tracks like “Terror In The Mind Of God” (which shifts seamlessly between hyper-speed riff work and blood-curdling Black melodies), “So Be It” (awash with MAIDEN-esque riffs that mesh effortlessly with blasting brutality), and the absolute evil of “Satanachrist”. The inclusion of the latter track is interesting – it originally featured on the “Total Fucking Necro” demo, and as such carries a much more orthodox Black Metal sound (both riff-wise and in terms of the ever-escalating creepiness of the backing melodies). Even so, it doesn’t sound out of place on this album at all and serves to show that even though the guys have modified their style slightly over the years the extremity of their core sound remains intact.
Listening to the album it becomes clear that these guys are very much at the top of their game, this much is obvious judging by the flawless way in which the different elements (and the increased use of melody) are explored, meshed, and rammed down the throat with militant authority. The fact that the significant instances of catchy melodies never work to the detriment of the underlying brutality - but rather enhances the experience - is absolutely commendable. A lot of this is down to Dave Hunt’s effective use of almost Power Metal sounding vocal techniques that nicely counterpoint his otherwise unhinged barks/growls/howls, while the riffs continue to slice and dice as always.
To wrap things up, I’m pleased as peaches with this album. It is right up there with “Eschaton” and definitely one of the best albums I’ve heard so far this year. The songs all have a nice flow to them and while the album is more ‘listenable’ than their earliest works it is no doubt still a piss ‘n vinegar extreme Metal album at heart, one marked by both sheer heaviness as well as a tangible sense of maturity. If you fancy a slice of controlled chaos then “In The Constellation...” will suffice very nicely indeed.
(Online June 12, 2009)