Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Anaal Nathrakh-In the Constellation of the Black Widow (2009)
Given today's political climate, the fact that extreme music is so poorly received by the average American citizen is truly mind-boggling. I've been asked why I could spend my valuable time listening to something that is so angry and hateful sounding by someone who just turned off the Glenn Beck program. GLENN BECK. The irony of the question hit me so hard in the gut that I crapped blood that night and have stress dreams about being lectured on what is unacceptably hateful by a faithful Fox News Channel viewer. Incidentally, I'm usually also in my underwear and standing in front of my sixth-grade class while this happens.
Anaal Nathrakh stand out as figureheads in the extreme music pantheon; common definitions of what "extreme" is generally don't take Anaal Nathrakh into account, because by comparison virtually any other band bear a closer reseblance to The Monkees or Suzanne Vega. In the Constellation of the Black Widow is a testament to that form of extremity in the best possible way. Allow me to reflect upon their sweet, sweet intensity for a moment....ahhh. That was nice.
I remember the first time I ever got to experience Anaal Nathrakh's whirlwind aural assault: I was sitting in my easy chair with headphones on, and about thirty seconds into the first song, the rest of the world melted away. I closed my Webmonet browser so that I could better understand what I was hearing. I had to take a reprieve from the album about midway through to text my good buddy Van Damned (of Crustcake fame [name drop!]) that I was, thanks to him, enjoying the most intense musical experience of my life. I listened to the album through in this fashion twice and was immediately hooked.
The album starts off with the churning maelstrom that is the title track. The vocals that Anaal Nathrakh employ remind me of a Japanese torture movie I was once subjected to. Picture a girl strung up by her wrists in a shed; the ties that bind her wrists cut deep crevasses into her skin and show no remorse and have no give. This girl is accompanied by an older lady, or mistress if you will. The mistress is heating up irons in hot coals and using the white-hot tips to burn the girl's armpits. That's what the vocals on any given Anaal Nathrakh song sound like. The music is dusted with an ethereal haze that hangs around it like the fog in Scotland (I assume, since I've never seen it), or the thick fart-smelling ozone that hangs around my hometown of Bakersfield, CA. The mix of the instruments are reminiscent of the Three Goats Gruff children's tale; the troll under the bridge might very well have used this album to grind up bones in order to make his bread. Actually, that's ridiculous, because any troll that listens to this album would give up his life of evil and become an investment banker to avoid having to cross paths with whatever beings created this chilling squall. And rightfully so.
The standout track of the album is "The Unbearable Filth of the Soul," which takes on an industrial bent that conjures images of crazed, chainsaw-wielding sex robots running amok in a fully-staffed pipe-welding warehouse. Justin Foley of the Austerity Program waxes philosophical about taco riffs on Metalsucks.net (what you should be reading instead of this crap); my vote for Thee Taco Riff would be the main riff for "The Unbearable Filth of the Soul." (Image of me stroking my chest and face in ecstasy, real creepy-like).
That Anaal Nathrakh are termed as a black metal band seems unfair and mostly downright misinformed. That said, I tend to disagree with commonly agreed upon genre-fication of music and like to relabel things that I like to something that suits my palate better. In this case, I choose to think of Anaal Nathrakh as Industrial Hate Grind, because black metal makes them seem too lame, like a couple of dudes philosophizing about how nobody but them know the true meaning of the word "hate," and that everyone else are just poseurs or just generally false and un-grim.
I can understand how most people would perceive this fawning collection of buzzwords as a negative review, but it is exactly the opposite of that. Glenn Beck viewers, THIS is the musical extremity that mirrors your lazy, ignorant political extremity. Except it's good and doesn't do things like destroy America or make people throw tea in the ocean. So leave Muse alone. They seem like nice dudes.
I was going to recommend you visit Anaal Nathrakh's myspace page to experience the fury, but it doesn't appear that they have one, which makes me like them even more.