Funeral.Throne.Threshold.CoverIt’s been a while since we last heard from West Midlands black metal crew Funeral Throne, six years to be precise.

Their debut album ‘Nihil Sine Diabolvs’ was released through Satanas Rex in 2008, and now ‘Threshold’ has been given a wider release through Blut & Eisen, after the limited edition cassette version was put out last year.

Although the first album was as potent an offering of blast-infused BM as you were likely to hear that year, there was something strangely dissatisfying about it. The music on ‘Nihil Sine Diabolvs’ seemed at odds with the sombre, doom-like presentation, and maybe sonically the band may have worn their influences on their sleeves too enthusiastically, with much Swedish influence creeping into the mix.

Taking complete control this time round, have Funeral Throne found their true voice?

Well yes, they have.

The Watain/Nifelheim influence is still there, but here the “wider” sound of the tracks lets the bands convictions breathe more fully. The sharp production also helps ‘Threshold’ SHOOT from the speakers, ditching the rather claustrophobic feel of its predecessor. Its death and black metal elements further enlivened by a traditional metal tone.

Don’t let the subdued, shimmering style of the opening instrumental track ‘Resurrection’ fool you, this album has a fire in its belly. It doesn’t just blast along aimlessly though, it ebbs and flows with cool metal riffs and considered clean guitar breaks, with vocals that alternate from death grunt to rasp, from hoarse testimony to spoken word.

The choir-like backing vocals on ‘Hypnotic Coils’ prove particularly effective.

Big riffs and heartfelt guitar solos collide in ‘Vessel’, and the dual finale of ‘Gateway To Lucifer/Gateway To The Eye’ lays down the groove, with some tangy bass, and a solo that practically soars.

Such changes in mood and tempo shows that this album isn’t quite as easy to pin down as the first record. It’s much bolder, better played, and displays a gratifying level of maturity that doesn’t take away from its primal ferocity.

With ‘Threshold’ Funeral Throne have created a powerful album. Fully-realised and musically dynamic, its impact should certainly see the band stride deservedly forward.

(8.5/10 Stuart Carroll)