Crimson Throne are a pretty new English black metal band and signing to the interesting little label Apocalyptic Witchcraft, and have toured a fair bit recently with bands such as label mates From The Bogs Of Aughiska and Coltsblood. Enough style there to make me raise my hand when they came up for review despite the slightly…er…uninspired album title.
So this is their debut album, and ‘Beckoning’ opens with some great atmosphere; military drums, feedback and cutting guitar. It has a great effect, chilling and foreboding, a definite ‘here, ahead, lies chaos’ feel. ‘Dalit Lineage’ therefore comes as a little surprise as initially what we get is a modern and very controlled howl of black metal. A little respite for precise picking before the roar really rips in on a superb solid backbone of death metal drumming and a kind of Anaal Nathrakh controlled by later Emperor vibe with a broad stroke of Dissection. It’s vibrant, full of precision and with well judged atmospheric passages and fine black metal riffing. The vocals are classic; howling, echoing, distant and varied. Really adept and solid stuff. Rather amazingly mature for a debut too.
‘Indignant Slumber’, slows things a little and adds more keyboards, diving into a more introspective atmosphere that kind of makes me think off some of Dis Pater’s style but more belligerent. Oddly despite the aggression on display that is where Crimson Throne sit more easily I think. They are a distinctly atmospheric black metal beast; a little more belligerent than most maybe but definitely that feel. ‘Blackened Sun’ reinforces this in spades with its quiet, considered build up and bursts of fury.
‘Scattered’ and ‘Sightless Remnants’ pretty much follow this style too. Beautifully, precisely played, a little WITTR maybe in the slower parts and the cascading riffs when they come. Great influences and a fine blending of them into something that is most definitely coming together as a very individual sound. ‘Ekur Calls’ is possibly the closest to that goal, moving around the edges of some fine English bands inspired by the landscape before the Dissection decent through the clouds to the closest they come to the chaos storm. I feel lies at the heart of this band.
I guess that’s where my current reservation lies. Crimson Throne have everything they need already; ability, confidence, vision, songwriting and here a great production too. However for me, apart from ‘Ekur Calls’, they also feel like they could come from anywhere in Europe or Scandinavia: It’s the good side of a broad influence sound at the moment but it is still a little rootless. Does that matter? Roots? Well I just feel the band have something to say that is more than the entirely esoteric, something about them as people and their own journey and beliefs; if that is the case, yes roots are important. If I’m wrong then fair play but I still feel they just need a little more nudge towards where their sound is travelling. Just a little. And I definitely think they are binding in the music a little too tightly when just letting it rage and flail might set light to that heart a little better. Sometimes more technical prowess which they have in spades can enable less control.
But let’s not take the above as hyper critical. Far from it. I say all that because they already are a very fine band and have huge potential for me. All they maybe need to push them over is a little more opening themselves and a little less control.
But listen to this now. If you like black metal you won’t regret it.