Antioch, the last album from Sweden’s Throne of Heresy, proved little more than its own existence. The “I riff therefore I am” approach to music did little to impress, and despite good pacing and a few fun songs, It was brought down by an uninteresting Swedeath sound and even more uninteresting boilerplate lyrics. Having thus consigned Throne of Heresy to the ignominy of the 2.5, I found myself not terribly interested in listening to their latest. Yet in my supreme magnanimity, I decided to give the band another chance with Decameron, and well I should have. While it’s not a spectacular turnaround for the band, Decameron rises head-and-shoulders above Antioch, with better songs, vastly more interesting lyrics, and a sound that’s a step ahead of its predecessor.

Gone are the Stockholm trappings of AntiochDecameron‘s sound is a new direction for Throne of Heresy, and the shift to a melodic death metal style has done the album wonders. The Bloodbath worship of yesteryear is behind the band now, and they start things off on the right foot with “The Shores of Issyk-Kul.” While not a stunner, “The Shores of Issyk-Kul” is a more than capable introduction for the album’s sound and lyrical concept. The former of those is heavily indebted to Amon Amarth but with occasional black metal/Swedeath antics, and the latter is an exploration of the history and devastation of the black death1.

In a welcome display of artistry, Throne of Heresy took time to garnish the songs of Decameron with melodies and motifs that reflect their historical inspiration. “The Siege of Caffa” utilizes a Turkish/Eastern European influence early on among a marching snare, and the song does a good job of conveying a sense of place as well as a one of desperation. Later on, “Alvastra” does its inspiration service with a quick choral interlude. These moments really are memorable – I would go so far as to say inspired – and they totally shape the album around themselves. It’s these landmarks that help make Decameron feel like more than just a collection of songs. Ending the album’s journey, “The Pale Burden” sweeps together a cinematic arc of the kind that just isn’t present on many death metal albums.

There’s a lot to like about Decameron, and during my first few listens I nearly overlooked its biggest flaws because of my surprise at just that. As before, the band write songs which are for the most part easy to follow and concise, and they spread the most compelling moments across the album. But at times the meat of Decameron feels a bit lacking, as the band just don’t seem to have the wealth of good riffage needed to sustain excitement in between the more interesting passages. Yet for a death metal album that’s much more vanilla than my usual fare, I came away from Decameron content with it after each listen. Sure, Throne of Heresy‘s riff game could use some heavy drilling, but it’s really fun to listen to an album with strong melodies and songs that have me periodically checking Wikipedia. It reminds me of my first experiences with older Nile records.

While Decameron‘s musical approach is about as middle-of-the-road as death metal gets, Throne of Heresy‘s decision to go all Sabaton and write a historically-inspired concept album was a great choice. I can honestly say that I’ll reach for this the next time a vague Amon Amarth craving comes over me, and though that’s not often these days, I can still appreciate a quality album despite the played out melodeath sound. Decameron‘s greatest achievement is how satisfied it leaves a listener after the whole ordeal is through; it’s not the moment-to-moment riffs but the musical and conceptual arc that make Decameron worthwhile.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: The Sign Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 3rd, 2017

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  1. A disease which scientists have asserted was the most metal of all time.
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  • Nukenado

    The Black Melodeath.
    This album is pretty killer.

    (I’m sorry)

  • Goldicot

    Damn, you write well. The wordplay in the first two paragraphs is eloquent as fuck.

    Still, it sounds like a band that only exists to pad out better band’s live shows.

    • “The wordplay in the first two paragraphs is eloquent as fuck.” –
      I’m giggling at that line!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      You’re eloquent as fuck, too.

  • Nukenado

    I must disagree that the Black Death is the most metal of diseases.
    I would say that Ebola and SARS are more metal.
    Death by internal bleeding and lung failure are way more metal.
    There’s plenty of bands that have “blood” in their name, and there’s Suffocation, but you don’t see “bubo” often.

    • Kronos

      I’ve never heard of “Ebola Metal” or “SARS Metal,” but black metal and death metal are still going strong after all these years.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        Pretty sure there’s lot of Flu-metal bands….Blind Seer for one…

      • Nukenado

        Touché. I concede defeat.

      • AgonMcDuck

        AN – Let There Be Ebola Frost though

    • Eli Valcik

      Crabs are pretty metal.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        Elephantitis of anything is pretty metal IMHO.

        • [not a Dr]

          At the very least, it’s heavy.

        • sir_c

          That’s stoner doom, as it immobilizes

    • [not a Dr]

      Lead poisoning would be both heavy AND metal, while aluminum deposits have brvtal effects on memory.
      Any sort of radiation sickness has heavy metals at its source.

      • sir_c

        And phosphorus fur the more lucid moments

    • AgonMcDuck

      Well wasn’t there this band recently reviewed here with one guy named SARS The Virus?

      • Nukenado

        Yep. It’s a kvlt virus.

  • Nick Maestas

    Sick!! Not bad I’m gonna give the whole album a listen. The embedded song is good though

  • “Okay, okay, so we’ve come all this way to get some brootal treads and there are only 4 black hoodies left and 4 leather jackets left… but there are 5 of us… what ever are we to do?!?”

    • Kronos

      Guy in the back really wanted that jacket.

      • Look, you’re the bass player and no one knows what your instrument sounds like anyways so just accept that you aren’t cool enough to don the jacket, asshole.

        • Tofu muncher

          “no one knows what your instrument sounds like” 😂😂

        • sir_c

          or, he’s the vegan guy

          • Then he’s one of the fatter vegans I’ve seen. After Prince Fielder, of course.

  • Danny

    I really dig that embedded song. Even though I have too much melodeath in my life right now, I might make time for this. Or I might not, what the fuck do I know, with half of these “I’ll check this out” comments I end up never listening to it ever again. Sweet review though.

  • herrschobel

    great. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Really like this

  • AgonMcDuck

    I’m digging this FAR more than I expected.

  • Mollusc

    A bit off topic… but I ended up on your re-review of The Gallery (wrong kind of melodeath, probably). What is the oldest example of consecutive tracks sharing a title elliptically you’ve found? Thanks

    • Kronos

      Ah shit, I found some dating back to the ’80s but I can’t recall now what they were. My search was far from extensive.

      • Mollusc

        That’s cool, only mentioned it because one that springs to mind is “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers…” and “…In this Quiet Earth” off Genesis’ Wind and Wuthering. Cheers

        • Kronos

          That’s pretty old.

  • Johan

    This album is surprsingly good, I first dismissed it as standard black/death but it proved to be really entertaining. I’m not sure I thought of Amon amarth though.

  • sir_c

    This is something I can listen to. Not groundbreaking indeed, but still pleasant stuff. Thanks!