Anaal Nathrakh – In The Constellation of the Black Widow (2009) – Review

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So, you think that you can stomach trve Extreme Metal, right? Howling mad metal, worse than the amorphous horrors the Lovecraft wackos like to throw at you. Something so unhinged, yet still strangely refined that will make a Dodecahedron concert seem like a genteel night at the opera with civilized glasses of champagne and salmon canapés.

RMR here already had a go at Anaal Nathrakh‘s 2020 piece Endarkenment. You know, the one with the pigs and the cocks in their eyes1). And we were mighty impressed with this record. Yet, what always surpassed the levels of imagination by bounds and leaps was their 2009 piece In the Constellation of the Black Widow.

Somebody once said that accessible metal is for wusses. If you lean towards metal of the light, it must be that you yearn for gruesome objects like Amaranthe or outright glam. And that is banned anyway, right? Real metalheads will gleefully bask in the harsh light that their puppeteers will dish out for them. Because you gotta be able to stomach this. It’s gotta feel like somebody just nailed your foot to the ground and started carving blood eagles into their mutual backs with a bunch of rusty knives. Pun fucking intended.

Well, Black Widow here truly qualifies to administer that test for the worthy of the metallic realm like a clyster that will make an elephant run for cover. Hell hath no fury like the unchained folks over at Anaal Nathrakh. And that specific widow really drove them into truly cosmic realms of raw and brutal rage, and some uncharted territory to boot.

But what can you do if you mix Black Metal, Grindcore, and Death Metal all into one pot? ‘Xactly, not much. Then throw in a few cartloads of truly neurotic bedlam, free from all those Scandinavian conventions the likes of Vikernes and Gaahl tried to inflict on the restless masses of the extreme. If anything, Anaal Nathrakh are more Earthwomb here than they will ever be Gorgoroth.

Right from the start, you get those crackpot screams that seem to emanate from the mother of all asylums directly. This feels like Dani Filth in a straightjacket full of spikes. Only that here, the howls are the real thing. And that filthy avalanche of madness rolls in from a vocalist with the good-sounding name of Vitriol2), no less. But a toasty name notwithstanding, we were constantly taken aback by those vocals. Screams are one thing, but you’ll also get Death Metal gurgles that appear at odd corners. Together with belted clear voice passages that have – in the meantime – become standard fare for Anaal Nathrakh.

All of that comes with burly riffs delivered at breakneck speed. And solos that truly seem to use those dreaded dentist tools instead of good guitar picks.3) Oh, and let’s not forget the modern-sounding drums. For once, the drummer doesn’t want to steal the thunder from that demented insanity Black Widow projects. Instead, the drums ARE the thunder. This, folks, is how metal drumming should sound. Meaty, on point, and aggressive enough to support that viciously rotten fare the screamer and his crony, the guitar dude, are coughing up.

Yet, let’s be clear. Dave Hunt and Mick Kenney both are top-notch musicians. Their brand of metal might be too crazy and wild for most, but it takes stamina and a galaxy full of skill to pull this off. Others might take exception to the political incorrectness on red-hot display. But that no-fucks-given attitude of that band is genuine for once and these British boys take no prisoners. Unless some most of their metallic brethren that play tough guy, but ain’t.

Ultimately though, In the Constellation of the Black Widow packs an almost nuclear punch for its short 34 minutes of airtime. And frankly, this is one of these albums that will leave most metalheads drowning in its wake. And many others will be glad that the torture limits itself to ‘just’ that amount of minutes.

RMR, however, found a record on the wild side, filled chock-a-block with insane and more often than not insanely good hooks, licks, and solos. And ideas so bonkers, we wouldn’t have thought somebody would dare burn them on a CD. The outcome is one hard-nosed and truly juicy Extreme Metal album. A trve creature of the underground that only the initiated will appreciate.

Take my word for it.


Record Rating: 6/10 | LabelCandlelight Records | Web: Band Facebook
Release Date: 29 June 2009

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