Ah, the mid-to-late nineties. When Dissection were the daddies of melodic black metal, Cradle Of Filth hadn’t yet gone through that short but awkward novelty phase, Emperor were recording classic albums instead of cashing in on them with phoned-in reunions, and Varg… well, Varg was always a racist eejit.
Hailing from the Black Forest region of south-west Germany, Thron have quickly followed up last year’s self-titled debut album with a sophomore effort that wears a love of the nineties on its sleeve. That’s a metaphorical sleeve by the way, not the album cover, as the painting of a smiling blood stained sarcophagus does have something of a modern tinge about itself.
Delving into the tunes then, “A Spark Of Divinity” would be right at home on a classic such as “Storm Of The Lights Bane”; that shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of unoriginality, more a benchmark of the song-writing quality on display here.
As much as comparisons will be made to the heyday of melodic black metal, “Abysmal” is not merely a nostalgia trip. Thron have enough personality of their own as witnessed on tracks like “Under a Blood Red Sky” and “A Glorious Ride”, with changes in key, tempo and mood. My only real gripe is that mid-album instrumental “Liturgia”, despite only being 90 seconds long, takes the wind out of their sails a bit and interrupts the pace of the album.
Overall, this young band (only formed in 2015) have put in a spirited performance, bringing back memories of yesteryear without remaining stuck in the past.