Anaal Nathrakh - _In the Constellation of the Black Widow_
(Candlelight Records, 2009)
by: Jackie Smit (
It seems a laughable notion given the comparative levels of sheer sonic violence at which Anaal Nathrakh tend to operate, but some may recall pockets of heartfelt concern accompanying the release of 2007's _Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here_ from fans who genuinely felt that this bastion of English extremity was on the verge of slowing down. It was, after all, a record that had taken more than a few steps away from the black metal foundations upon which the band had been founded, and for some it seemed as though there was only so much clean singing and actual enunciation that their fragile sensibilities could bear. Whether then the product of fan feedback (something which somehow doesn't seem to fit into the Anaal Nathrakh mantra) or simply a case of chief commanding officer Mick Kenney being more incensed at the frumpled state of modern humanity than ever, _In the Constellation..._ presents a marked return to the unhinged, necro stylings of _The Codex Necro_. Trace elements of Kenney's penchant for composing a rousing chorus remain, but by and large this disc is a raw, ornery bastard -- more so than either of its two predecessors. Black metal is given a thorough comeuppance too, particularly in the shape of such Norse-tinged ditties as "So Be It" and "Satanarchrist". On "More of Fire Than Blood" we're treated to Dave Hunt (aka VITRIOL) delivering one of his finest stabs at baritone to date, at this stage an almost welcome respite from the nigh on constant screaming frenzy he maintains elsewhere.If I had to level any real criticism at Anaal Nathrakh's fifth full-length, it would simply be the absence of anything remotely surprising. I know that such an observation is fairly hypocritical coming from a Cannibal Corpse worshipper, but having had my expectations conditioned by AN's past several necro tours de force, I can't help but feel slightly unfulfilled by what's been delivered here. Still, if you're looking for music that's guaranteed to scare the shit out of your neighbours or need an appropriate soundtrack for that nuclear war the news media keeps hinting at in the not too distant future, this class act have raised the bar well beyond the reach of practically every extreme metal outfit in existence.
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