In The Constellation Of The Black Widow
posted on 7/2009 By:
"The Scariest Band on the Planet Returns," screams the Anaal Nathrakh promotional banner that has been sporadically haunting the pages of Metal Review. With all due respect to the marketing genius at Candlelight that typed that tagline, the use of tin-thin word like scary does the band more disservice than good--there's nothing campy or spooky about Anaal Nathrakh's vicious cacophony. Something like, say...fucking horrifying would be a more apt descriptor.
Those tracking this devilish duo since 2006's Eschaton will likely be inclined to agree, as the band's formula has since gone unchanged. In the Constellation of the Black Widow shows their grindcore-cum-black metal in full bloom/decay, still driven by their absurd deus ex machina of a vocalist, Dave Hunt. Not to diminish the importance of the band's face-scraping instrumentation, but Hunt's maniacal rants make and break this band. Whether he's shrieking with enough force to extract his eyeballs from their sockets, gurgling his deathrants through sticky sheets of phlegm and bile, or prostelytizing like a delusional, war-torn power metal martyr, his vocals are pushing and shoving against every boundary possible. And they do so with the tattered remains of a human hand--each facet of Hunt's attack is a manifestation of terrestrial anguish and rage. There's no masquerading, no costume wearing, no Nergal-esque cloaks of manipulation. Hunt doesn't adopt metallic masks to press his agenda.
That honesty is rampant on Black Widow; the industro-mechanical undertones of the past few records has been usurped by a more organic, workingclass approach. If Hell Is Empty... painted the view from above as the apocalypse was waged, Black Widow is the ground-level struggle to survive amongst the rubble. The opening title track runs the Nathrakh gamut, reverse-pyramiding the album's chaos. "I Am The Wrath of the Gods and the Desolation of the Earth" is a frantic, panicked primer for "More of Fire Than Blood," the album's massively-chorused Smash Hit from Hell. The trident of dominance is staked.
Black Widow runs a bit lean in the midsection, reliant on rapid-cut death/grind pummel to hammer the canvas down. But perhaps the band is all too aware of the physically taxing nature of their assault, using this relative respite to lull the listener into a sense of security before irrepairably fucking their souls dry over the course of the album's final three tracks. The fucking horrifying (See? That sells.) "Oil Upon The Sores of Lepers" is a coarsely-chopped rail of Napalm Death-eats-Antaeus served on a rusty, broken mirror. "Satanarchist" and "Blood Eagles Carved on The Backs of Innocents" bring the black metal back with the melodic guitar holocaust that was foretold on the stellar "Terror in the Mind of God" four tracks previous. The final minute of "Satanarchist" is one of the most cathartic moments in metal this year, and "Blood Eagles..." is as cranked-to-eleven as the band gets. The melodic shreddery that Mick Kenney flirts with (and then quickly flogs into dust) may be a sign of things to come. Could Anaal Nathrakh be brewing some blackgrind torrent with full-on guitar solos for the future? With the band's baby-step approach towards progression (something they can afford due to their prolific nature), this could be the sprout of a new demonic seed. The propsect of Hunt ranting over cascades of guitar solos like Sylvain Houde on a meth-induced ego trip is absolutely delightful; albeit in a totally fucked-up, masochistic way.
Wishful thinking aside, I could've just shortened this gigantic tome of rhetoric into two main points. First, this album is exactly what fans of the band were anticipating. Those fans have likely already slavishly placed their orders. They will not be disappointed.
Second, any attempt I could make at converting new fans to the Anaal Nathrakh cause would simply be a rehash of points that Doug Moore already eloquently conveyed in his ultimate treatise on Hell Is Empty and All The Devils Are Here. Black Widow is a smite more well-rounded than that record, a bit more lively than Eschaton--but just like those albums, it's one of the best metal releases of its respective year. Anaal Nathrakh is outright unfuckwithable at this point, and In the Constellation of the Black Widow cements their status as the world's most devastating purveyor of modern extremism.
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