Published on Saturday, 22 March 2014 19:53
Album title: Sovereigns
Release date: 15 April 2014
Label: Agonia Records
02. Sine Qua Non
03. Of Feathers And Flames
04. Lamp Of Invisible Lights
05. Of Shrines And Sovereigns
06. The Edge Of Agony
07. Divine Coagulation
08. Baal Al-Maut
09. Nerxiarxin Mahathallah
Dear reader! If you are one of those black metal enthusiast, who frequently use words “krieg” and “kvlt” and are absolutely serious about it, let me save you time and trouble and just tell you to stop reading right now. If you are on the other hand a black metal listener, that uses the words “krieg” and “kvlt” in a slightly jeering manner, love a good black metal album with good production, are not afraid of some experimentation, this is the place to be. Let’s get this straight right away: I am not a big fan of basement-sounding krieg black metal, that is supposed to be amazing, just because it has bad production, low sound quality, growls that sound something like a drowning Orc and is done by a band, whose members use way too much corpse paint and has a logotype that only true fans can decipher. We live in the era where recording equipment enables musicians to polish the sound to the last point and I see absolutely no need to not use this advantage.
Enthroned, a Belgium based black metal band, that doesn’t actually play Belgium black metal, but its roots are deep in Scandinavian black metal, is giving the audience its 10th studio album. The band, which doesn’t need any introduction to the black metal fandom, is just like a bottle of good wine – it gets better with age. Year of experience, since the band was formed back in 1993, really show in its music, as its latest work of art, Sovereigns, is a mature, intelligent and quite sophisticated album.
The opening “Anteloquim” is a short, instrumental introduction into the album. To be honest, these kinds of intro tracks have become quite popular nowadays and I have to admit I’m not quite sure whether they are utterly needed at all times. However, “Anteloquim” with its tenebrous ambient intrigues the listener and welcomes you to the dark realm that is black metal. Its successor “Sine Qua Non” is really a representative track of the album, which continues on with the darkened atmosphere at the beginning and converts into a real bone crusher. The aggressive, high-tempo guitars and drums, that are absolutely necessary in a good black metal release, have their fair share on this record and structurally, this is what Sovereigns deliver. The tracks are distinguished by solid and elegant tempo passages, which move from the fast and intensive to slower and more atmospheric. Perhaps nothing new, a cliché even, but the catch here is, that these passages are very well balanced and smooth. “Divine Coagulation” and “Nerxiarxin Mahathallah” are the exception that don’t build up from a quiet and tranquil beginning, but are hitting straight with pure aggression, created by massive and diabolical guitar riffs, which send out instant adrenaline rush and will give the live audience a terrible whiplash.
With the addition of minimalistic incorporation of Gregorian chants and spoken parts within some songs, the album emits a primary black metal energy: dreadful, mystical and spiritualistic. It explores a variety of ideas and evokes a palette of intense and obscure feelings. I only wish Enthroned would take one more step further and enhance the ambient by adding more Gregorian chants to the music and maybe build a bit less on aggression and some more on the atmosphere.
The fans will also be pleased that the album features a beautiful and dusky album cover, which is very tasteful and artistic and really adds a bit of a value to the album. Also songs were skilfully chosen to create a story from the beginning to the end, so the album really carries out a pleasant dynamics. If you put all these elements into equation, the summary is a solid, strong, focused album that holds a lot of integrity.
Review written by: Ines