Prophecies of the Pagan Fire and Towards the Skullthrone of Satan appear to be the two most well-known and loved albums that Enthroned has put out. Enthroned has been one of those bands that have been trudging along almost nonstop since they released their first album in the mid-1990s. Ok, so they’re one of the more old school black metal bands. Where are they now? It’s interesting how little you hear about some of these bands after about 10 years or so of existing. Of course, this is understandable because bands often times have their reasons for fading out of the public eye. Whether it be that they suck, too many lineup changes, shift in attitude/lyrical theme, or the more common reason: they aren’t any different than they were 15 years ago. The fortunate thing about this is that there are certain bands that have the ability to keep the exact sound and still sound original and great (Motorhead, Grave, Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, etc.). But, of course, the majority of bands that do that get labeled as “uncreative”, “bland”, and “overdone”. Some people put labels like that on bands that have only released two albums; that’s just fucking pathetic. Armoured Bestiality is considered by some to be the last album Enthroned released before they started getting old. Due to new and upcoming black metal bands that sounded different at the time were what people were listening to (1349, Dark Fortress, Angantyr, Xasthur, Ajattara, Nargaroth, etc.), not the newest Enthroned album. Having possessed Enthroned’s entire discography for about a year or so, I thought that it would be a good idea to mention their 2010 release, titled Pentagrammation.
Not to say that I care (because I don’t), the whole in-your-face Satanism thing is now officially considered tacky and even something that brings down a band’s reputation (unless, of course, they’re some huge legendary band that’s been around since the 1980s). This has caused to reputation of bands like Marduk, Dark Funeral, and Deicide to suffer. Why do I not care? In case you’re curious, it’s because imagery and lyrical themes/concepts are the last thing I notice about a band. I would go on a rant about “oh it’s all about the music!” but Enthroned is what I’m here to talk about. So in other words, yes, they could have chosen a better album title than “Pentagrammation”, but that’s the one they chose and we’re just going to ignore that for now.
Enthroned’s continuation after the departure of their last remaining original member in 2006 has remained a controversial element that has created skepticism towards everything the band has released since then. Tetra Karcist, the first Enthroned album to be released without any of the band’s original members, wasn’t exactly the band’s strongest moment. The 12-song record with that black scorpion on the cover cost Enthroned a lot of their fans and put a nice, clean dent in their reputation. It’s albums like these that build a lot of anticipation for a follow-up. Although XES wasn’t that good of an album, as well as Carnage in Worlds Beyond, for some odd fucking reason, Tetra Karcist really upset a lot of people, as well as bringing in fresh, new fans that were more of, let’s say, “21st Century black metallers”.
Pentagrammation acts as both a refresher and a disappointer. It acts as a disappointer because there really isn’t anything new; it’s the same old shit being recycled with a few things being taken out and a thing or two being added in to give it some spice. It acts as a refresher because the way that everything has been “recycled” and re-arranged has caused Pentagrammation to have its own form of originality without sounding different from the rest of Enthroned’s discography. The high guitar melodies slice through the music with razor precision like a clean, new blade cutting through flesh. The vocals vary in style more than enough to keep things interesting, and sometimes even a little too much for the strict black metal style these guys play. I think part of what helped the sound of this album is getting fresh ideas and influences from currently thriving black metal bands such as Watain, Merrimack, Enslaved, and Goatwhore. In other words, Enthroned has used Pentagrammation as a way to come up with their own take on the modern generic black metal sound.
Oh, this album has a very ambient and atmospheric sound (similar to Wolves in the Throne Room, but less drone-like), so the best way to listen to this album is to turn it up really loud. Otherwise, the really fuzzy guitar distortions will take over and make it impossible to hear anything other than distortion and drum cymbals. When you turn up the volume, you hear a significantly greater amount of musical intelligence and creativity than in many of Enthroned’s previous albums. The album’s high-quality production gives the Enthroned sound an entirely new vibe. Some might even mistake it for a completely different band.
All-in-all, don’t expect anything new. Instead, expect everything you’ve heard before, but with a different perspective. The way that Enthroned has recycled everything has ended up being surprisingly good. But I would tend to agree with most people that although Pentagrammation is definitely a comeback, Enthroned’s sound has grown tasteless and dry. I would give Pentagrammation 13/20 and would recommend it to all black metal fans.