More often than not I’ve been more than a little underwhelmed by the Norwegian black metal scene’s side projects and super-groups of the last decade. All they ever seemed to create was a compromised sound of the sum of their parts. However as we are talking individuals and prized musicians you should never assume that is always going to be the case. And as Throne Of Katarsis are now on their fourth full length since 2007 they are a pretty full on concern rather than anything else. This is also my first meeting with their music.
So… Hmm. Three tracks at around 11, 15 and 20 minutes long and that title? Think about it for just a moment and you can probably guess the approach here, and also why this is a bit of a reviewer’s nightmare. I could just say “Here you go, three dark epic black metal tracks of hypnotic repetition designed to push your mind into areas of dark contemplation. Just like it says on the tin. Off you go.
That is the problem and the strength here, though. This is essentially a record with a ‘live’ sound and feel which has undeniable power. There are enough scar -tearing talons of raw guitar and superbly howled, intoned, religious sounding vocals that rise up, echoing, from some catacomb to envelop you in its atmosphere. It really does succeed in its intent and retains a fine raw, open wound sound despite this trance like state it heads into. This would be great film music and it is excellent mood music, filling in the spaces and pushing back the world to leave you with your own isolated mind. I have written and plotted fiction with this as the channel for my thoughts this past week. For that it is excellent.
To listen to like any other good black metal album? Mmm. Not so good. There some of its strengths become weaknesses. Each passage, with only a little variation after the slower initial setup, takes a pace and drives it to the end. Each of the three keys is similar in pace, intensity and form. Cold riffs, howled and screamed vocals, punishing drums. If you have a purpose in mind, yes this music will focus you on that task; otherwise your mind may have a tendency to wander.
That, therefore, is your choice. On the one hand for what it appears to wish to be, it is undoubtedly excellent. On the other if you are expecting song orientated music you may be disappointed.
For me, though, intelligently crafted, finely stitched together and not bad at all.