Despite the fact that the infamous Norwegian Black Metal scene ‘had nothing to do with Satanism’ (as Varg puts it) it is impossible to ignore the fact that the media hyped the story with notions of devil worship. Due to this of course many upcoming Black Metal musicians found themselves obsessed with the occult, black magic and so forth, subjects which are now almost tied entirely to Black Metal. In fact it is hard to imagine Black Metal without all of this ritualistic paraphernalia. Bands such as Batushka and Watain are now displaying outlandish acts live on stage with fire, incense and a downright orthodox nature, all of which ties in perfectly with the Baphomet image of Black Metal’s history.
With a rich birthing dating back to 1994 Belgium’s Enthroned become a force to be reckoned with in the orthodox Black Metal world. With albums such as Prophecies Of Pagan Fire and Armoured Bestial Hell the band have made their mark and have since become a ferocious outfit admired by many within the underground Black Metal scene. We now reach the bands eleventh full length studio album Cold Black Suns, the long awaited follow up to 2014’s Sovereigns. The album is put out through Season Of Mist and promises yet more of Enthroned’s blackened spew.
The opening instrumental Ophiusa could be said to be lengthy for what it is, yet when you take into consideration Enthroned’s ritualistic approach it all makes sense. It slowly lowers us into the pit before we meet with the catchy and chaotic Hosanna Satana a well produced Black Metal banger with a fair heaping of hooks, this is sure to become a stand out at future live shows. Oneiros is up next, showing us a more melodic side to Enthroned, the track is still full of gloom, screeching vocals and full on evil force but it lends itself almost to Doom in its plodding delivery, creating a summoning atmosphere of the most unholy nature, complimented by a sort of a Gregorian sound.
Although the start of this release is a bombastic journey the album quickly falls into a trap of repetition, whereby none of the songs are boring but they become unintuitive. We are as aforementioned exposed to differing notions of progression at the albums entrance but thereafter it becomes an expectant journey. That said I cannot dispute the fact that this is some expertly crafted Black Metal with high production values, something I tend not to enjoy in this genre, perhaps with the exception of Post-Black Metal. Silent Redemption comes across as a pretty massive number, culminating the various facets of this album and showing them off in a longer more developmental sense. Smoking Mirror and Son Of Man come in to round off the album in a similar eclectic sense but in the end they give us little more than what we have already come to expect.
All in all this is a release that is sure to please the devotees of Enthroned. It is for its atonal faults a strong Black Metal release and likely one of the stronger from Enthroned’s back catalogue. If you like your Black Metal pure and true but with that elevated edge then this will surely tick a lot of boxes. Cold Black Suns is the sort of album that shows that Enthroned have gone beyond the underground and whilst they still exist within it they are like kings among rats worshipped and put upon a pedestal by their fellow vermin, never to break free of the sewers but to consistently claw away at the drains to the world above.
(7/10 George Caley)