By Dr. Abner Mality
Sometimes a certain era in music and a style rooted in that era becomes so deeply ingrained in the mind that you feel you have to pay tribute to it. We all know how many bands have tried to recreate the Swedish death crush of the late 80’s/early 90’s or the thrash metal boom of the 80’s or even the proto-metal of the 70’s. This kind of worship is the slipperiest of slopes to navigate...one wrong move and you wind up sounding half-baked or worse, an outright grave-robbing clone with zero identity of your own.
For Germany’s THRON, their era of inspiration is the melodic black metal of the mid and late 90’s, mixed with a generous dollop of melodic death metal of the same period. The sound of DISSECTION, early DIMMU BORGIR, OLD MAN’S CHILD, VINTERLAND and old NECROPHOBIC. One listen to “Dust” and you can tell these bands and the like run through THRON’s veins like black evil blood. And how does “Dust” stack up to the classics of the past? Do THRON embarrass themselves or do they actually join the pantheon of their inspirations?
There is admittedly a certain level of creepiness to how close THRON ape the melodic black metal style, but they sure nail that sound to a high degree. The production, the dark warbly guitar tone, the raging but articulate vocal rasps, the bursts of achingly sad melody, the speed and snappy drum sound….they are all here on tracks like “Dying In the Mud”, “The True Belief”, “The Wrong God” and more. Think of DISSECTION’s “Somberlain”, DIMMU BORGIR’s “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant” and even old IN FLAMES and DARK TRANQUILITY merged into one cold-hearted piece of blackened metal mastery.
The album starts with the fastest and most uncompromising songs, but in the second half, more epic and symphonic stuff starts to arise. “Into Oblivion”, “The Tyranny of I” and closer “Martyr” feature more grim keyboard and choir work and melodic guitar runs that are sometimes subdued. Honestly I prefer the more straightforward tracks, but these orchestrated epics are also a big part of the era and style of music THRON is paying tribute to and they don’t overlook it.
Yes, THRON is very much a tribute act, but a high level one and if you’re a sucker for the glorious mid-90’s era of melodic yet ripping black metal, you could do far worse than sinking into “Dust”.