By Laura Wiebe Taylor
The ominous rumble introducing Anaal Nathrakh’s latest album is misleadingly doomy. It takes just a few seconds for In the Constellation of the Black Widow to erupt into a blistering frenzy, and the bombastic chaos drives through to the end with few interruptions. The U.K. duo has produced a hurricane of sound, with a whole spectrum of throat-wrenching vocal eviscerations, thundering blasts, grinding riffs, and lightning-speed leads. The song titles tend to echo the bombast of Anaal Nathrakh’s musical matrix, adding to the intensity and excess. In the midst of all this glorious noise, the band repeatedly breaks into groove or melody-based interludes, with harsh vocal harmonies, a slower rhythmic pattern, or a classic metal guitar line all providing a much-needed contrast to the steady onslaught. Actually, a lot of the riffs are catchy, drawing you into the maelstrom of blackened-death-industrio-grind. Maelstrom or tsunami, In the Constellation of the Black Widow seems determined to sweep you under, but its strength lies in those few moments when Anaal Nathrakh pauses for breath, emphasizing the violence on either side. In between breaks, the frenetic effect threatens to wear off – details dissolving into the constant surge, or speed collapsing into hurry, like they’re rushing to reach the end of the song. Even with the breaks, what begins as sensory overload might fade into a reassuring rumble if not for the complex diversity and tight structure holding it all together so well.