Just about every style claims both a level of versatility as well as that of a clear identity, making for a nuanced yet discernable middle ground. This niche is generally clearer the earlier in a genre’s history, and as things evolve, bands generally tend to focus on one of those two concepts at the expense of the other. Among the more extreme examples of a strong emphasis on the latter is a recent USBM adherent going by the moniker HORDES OF THE MORNING STAR. Touting the typical lyrical subjects and musical clichés that became stylized during the early 90s, and largely avoiding the progressive and atmospheric tendencies of some of the more auspicious pioneers such as ENSLAVED and BURZUM, this band has brought forth an album in “Consummatum Est” that can be pretty easily qualified as orthodox.
The only thing that really separates this collection of very predictable, minimalistic compositions from the bulk of DARKTHRONE’s early to mid 90s era is the production quality. There is nothing on here resembling the grim and frostbitten landscapes of the early Norwegian sound, though the note sets and guttural, Nocturno Culto inspired ravings are an absolute dead ringer. This is a heavy, guitar oriented sound that could be likened to a middle era CANNIBAL CORPSE album in some aspects (melodic contour obviously not being one of them). Indeed, when hearing some of the Death/Thrash inspired breakdown riffs that filter in and out of “Sentinel” and “Altar”, this seems like an album inspired by that early ambiguity that existed between the early 90s Death and Black Metal scenes before the emergence of the Gothenburg scene, but with a stronger clarity of sound.
Staying true to its very simplistic style, this album doesn’t have many peeks or valleys to speak of, and generally plays it safe both in regards to development and song length. There’s no break away standouts to speak of in terms of quality, though the one song that holds on a bit longer in “Cut My Throat And Bury Me” sounds like a bizarre cross between a groovy Death Metal song and something heard on “Panzerfaust”, breaking from the somewhat plainer steady blast character with droning melodies that dominates the rest of the album. The only thing that this album lacks to all but turn it into a truly derivative homage to the early 90s sound is the lack of choppy, shred-laden Kerry King inspired lead breaks that were common to MAYHEM’s and BEHERIT’s early works.
The jury is actually out on whether or not to go out of one’s way to obtain this, since it is all but a full out worshiper of everything tried and true about this genre. Then again, the consistency at play here makes this a bit more appealing than most of what DARKTHRONE put out between “Total Death” and “The Cult Is Alive”. It’s definitely a competent and well put together album, but it’s not quite something that instantly sticks itself to the average long-term memory of a typical Black Metal affiliate, particularly one that’s already heard the obligatory classics.
(Online December 18, 2011)