The really cynical among us would have us believe that Belgium’s ENTHRONED has always been nothing more than a poor man’s MARDUK, and even though I have to admit that these guys have never been the most prestigious of Black Metal bands, they have always held a certain sway over me, mainly due to the now departed Lord Sabathan’s peculiar vocals. Oh, and their last record, 2004’s "XES Haereticum", was a strong effort. So how does this new album of their stack up then?
Well, it’s still the same old ENTHRONED – blastbeat-driven, aggressive Black Metal is still the order of the day here, and Nornagest (who took over vocal duties from Sabathan) does a solid job of spewing forth the band’s odes to darkness and death. So nothing’s really changed in the sound of the band but then again nothing has really improved either. This one pretty much picks up where "XES Haereticum" left off, with a slightly more pronounced emphasis on mid-paced songs, Gregorian chants, and tasteful soloing that could’ve been lifted straight from a classy Heavy Metal album. The thing is just that it all sounds terribly cliched and uninspired, with no riff ever really sticking out from the rest, with the exception of the slower epic main riff in “The Seven Ensigns Of Creation” and the very thrashy riffs during the verses of “Through The Cortex”. The drum sound also suffers from a very plastic feel and way too much focus of cymbal splashes. Can you say boring?
This was an underwhelming listen and a frustrating album to review. It’s not horrible by any means, and it’s clear that these guys really know how to play their instruments (especially Nornagest, who crams as many little licks and solos into every song while still maintaining the requisite raw Black Metal vibe), but on the other hand there is nothing that makes this album an essential listen either – it is simple ‘been there, done that’ fare from a band that really needed to make their mark following Sabathan’s departure instead of merely digging in and playing it safe.
Try this is you like Black Metal but stay away if you prefer great Black Metal, m’kay…
(Online December 13, 2007)