June 7, 2019 Enthroned – Cold Black Sun (Album Review)
Enthroned, the elder statesmen of the Belgian Black Metal scene, return to the forefront with Cold Black Suns, out June 7th to mark their debut for Season of Mist.
A premier act of the Belgian Black Metal for the past 25 years, the band has long been helmed by Vocalist Nornagest, nom de plume of Régis Lant (close cousin to Conrad “Cronos” Lant and Anthony “Antton” Lant of Venom fame). Joined here by Guitarist/Keyboardist Neraath and Drummer Menthor, as well as newcomers Shāgāl on guitar plus Norgaath on bass, together seeking to raise hell for Enthroned’s first album since 2014’s Sovereigns.
An nine song journey, save for some radio static, opener “Ophiusa” is a slow droning launch, before the switch to “Hosana Satana,” a punishing death march that breaks into some out-of-character melodic portions. Featuring drumming that is typical Black Metal blast beats, the vocals of Nornagest screamed in cadence, letting you know an imposing album is head. Later, on “Vapula Omega,” the band returns to the dense march of traditional Black Metal, with crisp blast beats, before the choruses drop the pace and volume down to a quiet, brooding menace. The haunting vocals are almost a reprieve between the crushing march and the detached sounds of the guitar solo.
Then taking a gloomy ethereal departure from it all, “Oneiros” manages to combine elements of traditional Black Metal along with newer atmospheric stylings without keeping residence in either camp too long. This in mind, there are portions of this song, and album as a whole, where the absence of sound is as frightening as any instrumentation. The guitars in particular, used with minimal distortion, form like icy tentacles, waiting to strike. Elsewhere, particularly on “Silent Redemption,” this formula is successfully duplicated, starting with a dark, gloomy passage that is quickly extinguished by the cacophony of the Enthroned style of Black Metal. As far as contemporaries go, Satyricon would be the closest analogue, particularly on this track.
“Aghoria” is another quick, very quick in fact, Sci-Fi special effects opener, broken up by dense vocal chanting and equally repetitive guitar. Serving as a brief pause, ”Beyond Humane Greed” breaks the relative solace while the album starts to lose a bit of steam and the grinding pace sounds more like work than anything melodic. Fortunately “Smoking Mirror” finds the album back on track with a long despondent opening clearing the way for rugged drums and guitar, cloaked in the raspy vocals of Nornagest. The sparse mood returns later, as again the band manages to get their point across that sometimes more is less.
Successful albums from well-established bands should be the rule, rather than the exception, but with Cold Black Suns, the dark magic of Enthroned has spun to yet another level. The deft mixture of brutal aggression and haunting acoustics should satisfy fans of all waves of Black Metal. That is why Cryptic Rock gives the album 4 out of 5 stars.