As tradition in black metal outfits and common place in other metal bands, the band members adopt nicknames or pseudonyms, with Anaal Nathrakh this also true Dave Hunt has taken the title of V.I.T.R.I.O.L which when you remove the dots is the alternate name for Sulphuric Acid. Mick Kenny opts for the more historical title of Irrumator, now after a bit of research I have come to three possible definitions, although none are certain given that they are not placed in a sentence and thus I cant deduct from the grammar which one it is. The first is a man who forces a person to perform oral sex on him, the second definition is a man that is forced to perform oral sex on another man, and the last one is that it was common place to be used to refer to someone as a bastard in Rome, at a guess I would believe it is either the first or the latter, I am unaware of homosexuality being thematically present in the more extreme metal genre.
Anaal Nathrakh was created in the depths of the former industrial behemoth Birmingham, without a doubt Birmingham has produced the most influential and best that metal has to offer, to name a few: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Napalm Death, Cathedral, and of course Anaal Nathrakh! And I see it fitting that such a great band should come from such a great place.
After much talk about the Artist themselves I should probably move unto the review of the album, given the purpose of this post is to review the album. However a foreword, breaking with tradition (does 2 times constitute a tradition?) I have not actually explained the purpose of the title, Anaal Nathrakh is a reference to a charm from the novel Sword in the stone and is believed to be old Gaelic word for Serpents Tongue.
In the Constellation of the Black Widow, must be a tributary title to where this record was produced, there is no way this music was produced by machines and people, it must be the creation of something dark and sinister which has allowed this unholy noise to be crafted in such a manner to give evil, despair and nihilism a soundtrack. As mentioned earlier Anaal Nathrakh have changed a number of times their musical orientation, and this was a very welcome return, so much so this feels like a rebirth of their Eschaton album with more passion and greatness, ironically Eschaton is the term for the second coming of Christ, coincidence or providence? . That is not to say that Nathrakhs stuff prior to this was terrible or that the musical direction was a bad turn, what I want to convey across is that every album they do is amazing, im convinced that the two of them have the musical Mydas touch. However this musical stance they have taken is entirely unique, I can not think of any band at all who play anything similar to this and for that reason this is one of my favourites albums and bands, and therefore this is why I was so pleased to see them come back to it with full force.
The Instruments are first rate also, Mick Kenny plays the guitars, bass and drums. What a phenomenal feat it is to play 3 instruments at that level of brilliance. All of the instrumental sections feature anything out of this world, nor are they catchy tunes that you can hum to in your head, but they are good at what they do: which is they create this atmosphere. The guitar mostly plays riffs and good ones at that, it is when we look at the guitaring the production value becomes most apparent. The guitaring is more clear and defined than earlier AN, and although those of you who are the ones who prefer the raw dissonant noise of evil might not benefit from this change, I think it is one that is well placed, the way I visualise it as being a shift from emulating the noises of a slow apocalyptic demise to being the actual music of the so called slow apocalyptic demise.
The drumming is definitely noteworthy, I always see the drummers in the hardest place, with a lot of bands all the drumming really does is set the tempo and beat of the song, however making something musical and well integrated into the songs is always a plus in my books, and AN have done this perfect.
For those of you not new to Anaal Nathrakh, should all be aware of the Satanarchist track from Total Fucking Necro album and demo, well this album features a thoroughly well rewritten version of it, dare I say it that I prefer the new version to the original? To those of you who have not heard it, it is an amazing song. At about 3 mins 30 is when I really really like it, I am not even sure how to describe it, but I certainly would like more bands to use this as a blue print in there songs. The band are currently signed to FETO records, which is coowned between Mick Kenny and Shane Embury, amazing record label, my 2nd favourite, just check out the bands.
To conclude Anaal Nathrakh is not music that is there to please your ears, it is meant to be a musical metaphor of this morbid, desolate and grim existence we live in, however In The Constellation of the Black Widow captures the beauty and harmony of this dark fade perfectally. From amazing choruses to blast beats to savage vocals In The Constellation of the Black Widow has them all. Embrace yourselves for the Constellation of the Black Widow.