I can honestly say that there isn’t a weak link in the evolution of Blood Red Throne since they materialised on the death metal scene about 20 years ago. Indeed the bands last release “Union Of Flesh And Machine” was a bona fide bludgeoning experience eschewing every trademark that the scene cares to unleash. It surprised me that this ninth album has appeared only to realise that it is three years since that previous release which I still rate as one of their best in their discography and death metal generally. How much a band can evolve in the scene without thinning the demolishing assault is one that takes time to hone but BRT do it with such ingenuity.

I have followed the Norwegians practically since the debut album and yes I do have my favourite albums and tracks but I am also very keen to hear new material as once again the band injects a slightly different poise and purpose that sees a more intelligent constructive aura embedded in their songs. Don’t get me wrong this is BRT firing on every cylinder but within the compositions the band has expanded into a slower more progressive realms, and I use that term loosely, to produce songs varied in nature but barraging in throughout. That variation is apparent the moment “Requiem Mass” initiates, as a tuneful guitar hook and eerie approach is manifest that sees the song escalating in intensity to the bone drilling riff break. The sound is monstrous, as always, where the bass releases seismic waves of pulverising power exhibited on all songs.

The songs are generally a tad longer, slightly more complex unveiling excellent guitar work and fluidised tempo changes that enable every song to gush momentum as “Bloodity” opens with a coursing riff that shifts into their trademark double bass infusion that I have always liked about this band. Again the pace changes are crucial as the song turns on its head and plunges into a quagmire of bass infested menace. That slower methodology produces the beastly “WhoreZone” where the drum work and dense oppressive structuring yields an asphyxiating aura before the abrupt but well timed velocity change.

Double kick blasting and kicking the shit out of you is “Skyggemannen” where the songs violence relents for a very cool and catchy riff loaded with double bass that arrives in cascades. Eerily and cloying with intimidation “Instructed Insanity” starts with a melodic hook and elongated lead break right before the detonation as that bass just seems to completely envelop and crush you into oblivion. The surprise track is the eight-minute sprawling sonic extravaganza of “Deal It Or Die”. Once again the listener is swept along in an ocean of bass linked to a slower permeating riff that saturates the track in claustrophobic horror. The subtle changes in pace are plainly evident as the song unfurls various hooks and melodies but retaining the density up to the riff break and subsequent blast section. The impetus here is colossal and I really would like to hear this song live.

Closing with something more akin to what BRT fans are accustomed to is the aptly named track “End” where blasted domination nestles into the guttural sonic abomination that ensues. The vocals seem deeper and far more intense, not maniacal but having intrinsic dread and terror with each bellowed, growled or screeched syllable uttered. BRT once again demonstrate why they are still here 20 years on and with albums like this they’ll be around for another 20.

(8.5/10 Martin Harris)