Empyrean Throne - Chaosborne - (9/10)
Published on August 20, 2017
Empyrean Throne are a rather interesting technical black/death metal band from the town of Lake Forest. They present a fascinating dichotomy for fans because visually, they take a very old school approach with their stage show being a full-blown chaos ritual. However, their musical approach is much more modern and creative than a lot of the ritualistic black/death bands of old. The most obvious influence here is Behemoth but this band is more creative and interesting than anything Nergal and co. have done in a while. After all, when was the last time you heard cellos in a black/death metal band? Chaosborne is Empyrean Throne’s debut full-length and one that marks a very strong start for what will hopefully be a long career.
The chaos ritual that is this album has many elements that make it a brilliant debut but this is a metal album, which means it all starts with great riffs. These riffs are fairly fast and they are also pretty damn heavy, which is a winning combination for this style. Despite the “technical” moniker, the riffs and melodies never feel overly complicated or pretentious. Every song contains fantastic riffs but perhaps the best example is “Sed Nomini Tuo Da Gloriam,” which is basically non-stop heavy riffs. Even when the tempo increases significantly, the riffs stay heavy and the execution becomes more precise with sweeping solos containing plenty of melody. Anyone looking for proof of the brilliant solos should listen to the title track and its fast and melodic solos. It is something that is sometimes missing from technical bands so it is a refreshing change of pace.
One of the best things about Chaosborne is the creativity it displays. “Sed Nomini Tuo Da Gloriam” starts with a middle-eastern guitar melody reminiscent of Melechesh and greatly enhances the song overall. Black/death albums tend not to be that creative, especially when it comes to using outside instruments. Empyrean Throne bucks that trend by using cello throughout this album, expertly weaving it into the soundscape. “Usurping the Obsidian God” ends with truly haunting cello that also appears on “Devouring the Mark.” Speaking of which, the keyboard melodies on “Devouring the Mark” are utterly brilliant even though they almost sound like something out of a video game. The symphonics are excellent throughout the album but this track really stands out in that regard.
As is typical of the genre, Andrew’s vocals encompass the full range of harsh vocal aesthetics. His black metal snarls are the primary aesthetic and they are very intelligible, which makes this album much more dynamic. Empyrean Throne is a conceptual band so lyrical intelligibility is a key part of the chaos ritual and of their old school approach. Andrew breaks out the death growl every so often and it rules but the unexpected part is the clean vocals in the title track. They are part of the ritual and are a very pleasant surprise, especially with how much they are used on the album’s closer, “Follow the Plaguelord Part II: The Harbinger of Pestilence.” This is a stellar way to close the album as basically the band’s entire arsenal is on full display as it is a nine minute sequel to the closing track of the Demonseed EP.
The drums are mostly typical of the genre with plenty of fast-paced, hammering double-kick drum to satisfy the tech nerds but it is executed with great precision. There are some real solid fills on here but nothing spectacular though that does not matter much given everything else this album has to offer. Since this is a chaos ritual, there has to be war drums banged with mallets, right? Not only are war drums a thing on this album, they are a beautiful thing. They are used somewhat sparingly but very effectively. Chaosborne is really well-produced too, making it far more impactful as you can hear all the cool things Empyrean Throne is doing over the course of a song. It still has that raw energy needed for black/death and nothing is squeaky clean but everything is clear. All told, Empyrean Throne have put together a stellar debut that is hopefully a sign of even greater things to come.