Monday, June 17, 2013

Blood Red Throne - Blood Red Throne

One of Norway’s biggest death metal bands is back with a self-titled album. Due to the extended relations both former and past members have in the black metal genre, Blood Red Throne has grown to be one of the much more respected pure death metal bands amongst the black metal fanbase. Well, apparently, Blood Red Throne’s release of Brutalitarian Regime in 2011 passed by without me knowing about it, so the last thing that I’ve heard from these guys is their 2008 album, Souls of Damnation. As if that wasn’t enough to make me feel disconnected, the lineup of the band is completely different now than it was in 2008, except for founding member and guitarist, Død. I looked through the lineup to see if any of the members are or were in any bands that I know, and their drummer caught my eye. Not only is drummer Emil Wiksten not even from Norway (he’s Swedish), he’s the drummer of the internationally popular death metal band Aeon. Although I don’t consider him to be anything outstanding, he is one of the more creative and unique traditional death metal drummers out there. But this guy isn’t the only highlight of this record.

The vocalist is, for me, the biggest change that this band has gone through. I loved the deep, moist sound that their previous vocalist had, but in retrospect, he didn’t have much of a pitch range. His vocals also sounded a little too relaxed and emotionless a lot of the time. The new vocalist, originally from this thrash metal band called Concussion that lasted for about two and a half years or so, has fucking range. And after doing some shallow digging, it seems that I’m not the only one that’s the first to hear this guy on a Blood Red Throne album because…this is the first time he’s ever been on one! Well, anyways, this guy is fucking amazing. The first thing you hear from him is an extremely high-pitched earsplitting black metal-styled shriek. Being used to the guttural growls from Souls of Damnation and Come Death, this is alien to me. Then, after the band takes some time to pull you into their catchy groove, the vocalist pummels you with his demonic growls. His growls sound nothing like the ones on any of the band’s previous albums, which is what forces you to realize that the Blood Red Throne that you once knew is no more; Blood Red Throne is back, and this album with its new sound is proof that nothing will stand in their way for very long.

Souls of Damnation won my heart over because it wasn’t pure death metal brutality. It has some of the catchiest grooves and tempos that have ever been pulled off in this particular genre. This element of their sound is what I identify with the most when I think of these guys. When I listen to Blood Red Throne, I love to hear the shit that I can nod my head along to while I’m doing my other work. This new piece of material never fails to that for even a single second. All nine tracks on this album are filled with those catchy guitar chugs and drum lines, even though the people that are playing them here are not the same people that were playing them in 2008. If I were to pick out two songs from this album that express the most of this element, I would pick Torturewhore and Exoneration Manifesto. Torturewhore is also one of the songs where the bassist and the drummer steal the spotlight. The frilly taps that the drummer does on the ride cymbals along with the crazy fills and the extremely tight kick drum work sold me on the spot. When I heard this song, I knew that this album will be on my “best albums of 2013” list at the end of the year.

I also love how the bassist is much more audible than in most traditional death metal stuff. It seems that in a lot of the recent death metal albums being released, including the past four Cannibal Corpse albums, the bass guitar is much less audible because of the increased volume of the overpowering distorted guitars. There are some bands where the only way you can really tell how skilled their bassist really is, to be honest, is to see the band live (The Black Dahlia Murder, Veil of Maya, Trollfest, The Agonist, etc.). That’s how bad it is sometimes. The way I like it, is when you can hear every member without anyone overpowering each other. But then again, there are appropriate times for certain instruments to step out of the light or for a certain member to take the frontline.

The song Exoneration Manifesto shows you the capability of their bassist. The bass lines and walks that he makes in this song not only intensifies the overall song, but also brings all the attention to him. This isn’t a bassist that’s just super technical and fast, this guy knows what the hell he’s doing and how the hell to do it RIGHT. After hearing what he did in that song, I stopped everything and started the album over, this time putting most of my focus on the bass. And this guy tears apart every song, showing everyone that he is a fucking amazing bassist and is currently right where he belongs, in Blood Red Throne.

As I’m writing this review, I’m just now realizing that, no matter how hard I try, I can’t find anything that I dislike (even just a little bit) about this album. What we have right here is death metal done right. Although 2013 is definitely not as good a year for metal as 2012 was, this year is releasing some very good music, Blood Red Throne’s self-titled album is one of many examples so far of amazing albums that have been released this year. This album is unique and pure at the same time. It fits the exact description of a good PURE death metal album, but it also has that unique twist of those groovy and fucking catchy parts to make it memorable. My personal favorite off of this would be the first song, Soulseller for having everything that can be found on this album compressed into one single song. This album gets a much-deserved score of 19/20.