Firmly and blasting from the underground, ENTHRONED had managed in their 12 years of existence to stay strong as steel as one of the heaviest, darkest and certainly most blasphemous bands around the scene. Not so much had changed since their first hails with the majestic “Prophecies Of Pagan Fire”, except that the dark atmospheres of those years had left space to merciless fury and fastness, leaving keyboards and slower parts behind, keeping the diabolical riffs and improving the song-building a lot with more skills and even a lead guitar protagonist role.
This is surely a respect-worthy thing, as nowadays BM could be divided in 2 principal groups: 1st, DARKTHRONE wannabes, whose only purpose is to show the world how true they are to the roots and 2nd those so-called Black Metal bands that, following the path opened by ARCTURUS and others of their kind, move through experimentations that have nothing to do with the genre, except for some random grunts. Of course ENTHRONED are much closer to the first of these groups, but the band has without doubt its own spirit, doing something that sometimes is seen as a grand heresy inside this inquisitive scene: to make not only raw and grim but also GOOD music, giving the band an essence that makes it recognizable and unique.
As you had probably guessed, “Xes Haereticum” is an old-school BM album, but at the same time skilled and well constructed. The first two songs, “Crimson Legions” and “Dance Of A Thousand Knives” are just amazing, electrifying and without giving you a single breath. Drums are a destroyer and riffs are simply demonic, while Lord Sabathan’s raw vocals will corrode your ears. The same level of violence is given by other pieces like “Blacker Than Black”, “Night Stalker” or “Hellgium Messiah”. If you ask me what a generality in this album is, is the fact that “the faster the song, the better it is”. Another track that without all that strength is still really interesting is “Seven Plagues, Seven Wraths”, which even has some clean vocals in the chorus as a distinctive touch.
Some other songs are slower and fail badly trying to be complex, like “Last Will” or “Vortex Of Confusion”. They’re too melodic because of the guitar work and the raspy vocals don’t fit at all with the music, being rather difficult to hear. There’s also a pseudo-electronic instrumental that you don’t like to listen to (“A.M.S.G.”).
“Xes Haereticum” is a good album, and, what is really important, it’s not ANOTHER Black Metal release. It has some awesome songs, some others that are not so, but in general is worthy your money. Just try to give a listen first. (Online July 14, 2005)