Review Summary: The musical equivalent of sadomasochism; painful, but oh so gratifying.
My experience with black metal is rather limited. I enjoyed the works of atmospheric black metal band Agalloch
, but that’s as far as my knowledge on the genre goes. While listening to them, I remember thinking to myself, “this isn’t that bad, where’s this evil, satanic, brutal genre I’ve heard so much about?”
Then Anaal Nathrakh
force-fed me my words.
This is by far the most brutal album I’ve heard in a long time, Anaal Nathrakh
effortlessly combine black metal, death metal and grindcore to create a sound like no other. The band is comprised of only two members, Mick Kenney who writes everything and plays all the instruments, and Dave Hunt (a.k.a VITRIOL) who handles all the vocals. It must be noted that Dave Hunt is actually a really talented vocalist, capable of ear-piercing screams and bowel-churning growls, while occasionally providing some melodic singing. Of course, Mick Kenney’s talents are not overshadowed by any means, his breakneck riffs and pounding drums beat you into submission constantly throughout the album, usually through pure speed than anything else.
That’s not to say there’s no variety in the songs however. The Unbearable Filth of the Soul
, for example, features a bass/drum intro leading into a gallop-like riff before (excuse the pun) all hell breaks loose. The riffs on show here are actually quite varied and often take influence from other genres such as melodeath, for example. So Be It
features a melodic riff similar to that in Blinded By Fear
by At The Gates
, as well as Iron Maiden
-esque twin-guitar harmonies, while the main chug riff to Oil Upon the Sores of Lepers
would make Pantera
fans cry out “plagiarism!”
As mentioned earlier, Dave Hunt’s vocals are something to behold. His high-pitched screams are unlike anything else out there, capable of making even the most seasoned extreme metal fan cry in fear. Just check out his long screamed notes in Terror in the Mind of God
, or the outro to the title track. He’s also capable of extreme guttural vocals that aren’t as impressive as his screams, but still pack a punch or several. Lastly, his singing voice isn’t particularly brilliant compared to other metal singers but it does provide a welcome break from the screaming and shouting, and at times can be quite melodic, the chorus to More of Fire Than Blood
This is usually the point where I discuss the lyrics, but I won’t be able to do that for two reasons: 1. Anaal Nathrakh
have never published their lyrics, and 2. deciphering the growls and screams is a nigh-on impossible task. Judging from the song titles however, it’s clear that they’re about your typical black metal lark: Satan (The Lucifer Effect, Satanarchrist
), destruction (I Am The Wrath of the Gods and the Desolation of the Earth, More of Fire Than Blood
), and torture (Blood Eagles Carved Onto the Backs of Innocents, Oil Upon the Sores of Lepers
To summarise, In the Constellation of the Black Widow
is a worthy addition to the catalogue of any extreme metal fan. A consistently heavy, fast, and brutal journey that will destroy your soul but have you begging for more. Anaal Nathrakh
have created the musical equivalent of sadomasochism; painful, but oh so gratifying.
In the Constellation of the Black Widow
More of Fire Than Blood
Terror in the Mind of God
So Be It