Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Enthroned - Obsidium [2012]

Having been actively releasing black metal from Belgium since the early 90’s, one would think that Enthroned have run out of fuel for the fire; and thus, I approached this album with ever so slight trepidation. This is was unfair judgment on my part, and while it may not be an immensely monumental album, it’s probably up there among their best releases, and it does have some characteristics that detach it from other black metal today. Having traditional black metal woven together thoughtfully with other enriching qualities, “Obsidium” definitely delivers and shows that Enthroned are creative and more than capable in their songwriting to produce a memorable album; and that's exactly what they've done.

What forthwith manifests itself in the first song is more or less conventional black metal with the riffs that it usually contains. Towards the latter half of the song, however, the listener will be met by a more mellow, slow and discordant riff, before lapsing straight into blast beat-ridden, furious black metal. The production is extremely well produced, perhaps one could argue too well (that is, for cheap-production whores), but it does suit their style of black metal nicely. Their style is dense in regards to the riffing and the overall sound that it gives off, differing from other bands in that it’s not abrasive nor orthodox, but more compact and hefty. Lots of grooves are seen throughout the forty minutes of the album, and there is a good amount of variety so as to uphold the listener’s attention, only in few places having slightly sub-par riffs.

Enthroned tend to excel when they delve into slower, more somber passages, because those are usually the ones that are most creative and most entertaining; hence, the drumming can become somewhat worn at times, because it tends to be just extremely fast blast beats. The guitars tremolo-pick along, and the drums blast at mind-blowing speeds, and while in theory this should be considered a great thing, it can become slightly stale. There are exceptions for this, however, as shown in the intro to “Deathmoor” or some other segments where the blast beats fit perfectly. This doesn’t detract from the album’s quality as a whole, though, as their focus leans more to the guitars than anything else. The vocals are the typical black metal ones, penetrative and raspy.

There’s a lot of variety to been seen in “Obsidium,” which is great as it holds the listener’s attention throughout the whole album; conversely to what some other bands do and stick to just one monotonous sound. Enthroned have achieved a more than decent album when the odds weren’t exactly in their favor, and hopefully they’ll continue to release good black metal. Highly recommended for fans of the genre and a nice surprise for people like me who approach albums like these with apprehension. That apprehension was no doubt rendered incorrect after having listened through the whole record, and anyone who picks this one up should be fairly satisfied with the purchase.



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