Anaal Nathrakh
In the Constellation of the Black Widow

As England’s most extreme export since Napalm Death have made their transition from apocalyptic black metal to grindcore, they have managed to retain some of intensity and ferocity of The Codex Necro, though far less caustic, and have been able to introduce some love ‘em or hate ‘em clean croons amid the mechanical, robotic blasting and cleaner tones. However the fact is, the only real black metal element left is the frenzied shrieks of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (Dave Hunt). So those looking for a return to The Codex Necro had better continue to look elsewhere.

Basically, if you enjoyed Eschaton or Hell Is Empty, And All the Devils Are Here, you will enjoy In the Constellation of the Black Widow as it essentially follows the same template with the ferocity you’d expect, but like Hell Is Empty, And All the Devils Are Here is quite as commanding and memorable as Eschaton.

After a slow start, the opening title track treads identical territory as “Between Shit and Piss We Are Born” or “When the Lion Devours Both Dragon and Child” from Eschaton or “Virus Bomb”, “The Final Absolution” and “Shatter the Empyrean” from Hell Is Empty, And All the Devils Are Here; vicious, churning blast beats and feral scream that break into a unexpected clean chorus. However, “I Am the Wrath of Gods and the Desolation of the Earth” delivers an unexpected, 2 minute blunt force trauma showing the ‘Thrakh can rip your face off as and when they choose.

And thus is the formula for the rest of the album as the album alternate between fierce chorus filled tracks like “More of Fire Than Blood” and “The Lucifer Effect” and lumbering tracks like “The Unbearable Filth of the Soul” and “Oil Upon the Sores of Lepers”- which could have come from any of the last three Napalm Death albums. In truth, it actually sounds a bit formulaic and overly familiar, especially some of the choruses. Though no less enjoyable, and some subtle melody hidden in the likes of “So Be It”, “Satanarchrist” and closer “Blood Eagles Carved on the Backs of Innocents” keep things a bit interesting.

Production wise, things sound a bit fuller and richer even than Hell Is Empty and the clean tones will be sure to off put already peeved black metal purists. The end result is what you expect at this point in Anaal Nathrakh’s career, but In the Constellation of the Black Widow does come across as a bit redundant and rehashed from the last three albums, despite its intensity and vicious hooks. I’d like to see the band start to morph again and see what they can deliver next time around.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 7th, 2009


  1. Commented by: emperorjvl

    Absolutely agree! This band puts out good albums but there’s nothing new here. Time for further extremism – either regress to the debut or progress to something, but 3 copies of Domine… later this is starting to sound dated. Just don’t go Route 1349…

  2. Commented by: Stacy B.

    Sorry, but I just got to say this is their BEST album yet!

    The riffs are better, catchier and dominate.

    The production is the best of their career.

    Slight advancements in their style can be seen throughout this album (melodies in vocals/riffs, samples/sounds for added layers – sometimes subtle keyboards, etc.)

    The guest musicians CONTRIBUTE rather than take the spotlight.

    While I do enjoy the band’s past catalog, this one just absolutely RIPS!

    Erik, the one area you mentioned that I can echo is that the album’s first couple tracks are a little bit of a false start. But after that, whew, it’s incredible. In my top ten of the year.

    (Bonus: The melodic riffage about 2:10 into ‘Terror In The Mind Of God’ gave me chills. Hell, that whole song shreds!)

  3. Commented by: Dan

    I can certainly understand your criticism Erik, but frankly, I think Anaal Nathrakh have achieved a very unique sound at this point in their career and I for one don’t mind one bit if they stay this course ’til the day they hang up their axes. There seems to be a tendency to give less original acts a free pass as they pump out identical albums (reviews of Jungle Rot, Amon Amarth come to mind), while we reserve all our judgment and harsher criticism for bands that have succeeded in creating a unique musical persona and then flip a shit when they start to mutate at our request(Opeth, the ‘Thrakh).

  4. Commented by: gabaghoul

    have been holding my breath waiting for them to top “Do Not Speak” off Domine. Thought that a full-blown Emperor-style marriage of chaos and melody could have followed on later albums but haven’t heard it yet. Eschaton pretty much lost me. :(

  5. Commented by: Jobby

    The shift away from black metal has been weird. It’s like Anaal Nathrakh have incorporated Mistress.

  6. Commented by: Ryan

    I think this is easily some of the best material they have put out in years. “Hell..” was cool, but wore off quick. I have been listening to this non-stop for well over a week and have yet to get poured. This is aggression at it’s finest. Some of the riffs on this disc are out of control and insanely heavy. this is also one of VITRIOL’s best performances as well.

  7. Commented by: Fantomas

    Couldn’t agree more with the comments. “Hell..” sounds tepid compared to this one. And the re-recording of Satanarchrist is one of the best black metal tracks I’ve ever heard.

  8. Commented by: gabaghoul

    this album is full of wins. better riffs, better structures, awesome clean vocals and atmosphere, and still the vicious facefucking we expect from these guys. I like this much much better than Eschaton.

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