Good afternoon, and welcome to the second ever Heavy Metal Spotlight Metal Marathon! The weather outside is warm, benign and generally idyllic. The sun seeps down, gently onto the warm pavement, and the plants grow green and prosperous. Perhaps a little too idyllic, in fact. But oh? What's that noise? It sounds like the end of the world, the sound of a billion souls being drowned in the tangible corruption of man. Could it be... Anaal Nathrakh? The antidote to all of this loveliness, the fine work of Mick Kennedy and Dave Hunt, who create music which, on the sunniest of days, never fails to remind us that we're all a bunch of bastards, leaving only a sad, melting ice cream, mixing with the all too human grit of the pavement to remind us that things were, for a brief moment, comfortable. If you want a picture of the next eight records I'm going to listen to, imagine a boot stamping on that ice cream forever.
The first time you hear Anaal Nathrakh, you're struck by the fact that there's really no other band quite like them; their work has a character which feels very unique in the metal world, and has yet to be truly copied with any great success; the sheer diversity of influences which the band take on board, then alchemically regurgitate as a hideous but at the same time atmospheric and at times even beautiful concoction is always impressive indeed. In other words, easily reason enough to listen to all of their albums in a row. Just now.
The Codex Necro, like every single album to come after is, is something of an unrelenting sonic mauling; it's the musical equivalent of an alien race, disgusted by humanity, sending down a giant cybernetic Nietzsche to crush us, followed by a swift orbital bombardment. The Codex Necro isn't an album which proves itself with speed, but instead relies on it's sheer bleakness and black-metal leanings, perhaps the most pronounced of the bands discography, to create a scathing portrait. Some of the most crushing sections, in fact, are the more mid-paced ones, the "fucking hell" moments, something which all of the band's work possess, are certainly at their most scathing and grim in this record.
Of all of the bands albums, In the Constellation of the Black Widow is perhaps the most intense; the tempo is, for the most part, utterly unrelenting, and the vicious, spiky atmosphere fuelled by a hefty amount of agile guitar work really envelopes the listener with it's barbs; the album feels like an apex of insanity and intensity, but also harbours a lot of the stand-out melody of the bands career. While rapid fire and poisonous in character, there are certainly shining moments of beauty; the instrumentation and production on the record create an extraordinarily lush atmosphere for the listener's ears to explore. This the first Anaal Nathrakh album I listened to, and one which made a fantastic first impression indeed.
So, once again, we have reached the end of a metal marathon; compared to the first one, where I took two sessions to make it through all of Darkthrone's material, this journey has been altogether more brief, but nonetheless, it's been one hell of a journey, through what could well be one of the most intense bands active in metal today. If you've read this far, and shared my journey, I thank you; and if you've not checked out Anaal Nathrakh before, and want to, I hope I've painted something of a picture for you to use as reference.
That, and if you ever see them live, enjoy the fun post-gig activity of finding parts of yourself which have been scattered tastefully around the venue.
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Anaal Nathrakh on Metal Archives