Thokkian Vortex – Thy Throne is Mine Review

Making a good album is hard. Really hard. Think climbing Mount Everest. In bad weather. With no oxygen. On one leg. That kind of hard. It’s one of the reasons few albums on this esteemed blog score above a 3.5. While making art is hard; criticizing it is easy. The fact that so many bands are nevertheless willing to try is a testament to their bravery. It’s also why we here at AMG believe in giving everyone a fair shake, even if we don’t like the final product. The latest band to try its hand at producing something enduring is Thokkian Vortex. Born from the mind of Lord Kaiaphas in 2006, Thy Throne is Mine is only the band’s second album, following 2016’s Into the Nagual. I wasn’t familiar with Thokkian Vortex, but a quick listen to Nagual revealed fairly standard black metal combined with some synths and drone. While pleasant enough, there was no way that that combination was in any danger of assaulting the world’s tallest peak. Have the guys upped their game?

Thokkian Vortex has always been a little… odd. Into the Nagual frequently sounded like standard second-wave black metal fare, with few frills and even less fuss. But then, out of nowhere, weird ambient tones would emerge, combined with chanting and strange instrumentation. While it didn’t work particularly convincingly, like great uncle Bob removing his dentures as a party trick at Thanksgiving, it had a peculiar charm. Most of that weirdness is absent on Thy Throne is Mine, and the album is poorer for it. Thy Throne mostly sticks to mid-tempo black metal with lyrics about Satan and the occult. Honestly, I find this shtick pretty boring by this stage, and the music unfortunately follows suit. There just isn’t much here to keep the listener’s attention. First single, “Banishing the Lion of Kutha,” features blast beats and shrill howls, but nothing in the form of hooks that lodge in the brain. The rest of the album suffers a similar fate, with the slower tracks like “Traverse the Tonal” floating aimlessly in a sea of synths and drone. It’s not terrible; it’s just bland.

When Thy Throne is Mine embraces its silly side, it becomes a lot more fun, but this comes at the price of tonal consistency. “Come to the Sabbat” features hilarious clean vocals and a hyperactive, Jethro Tull-esque flute. These are then replaced with a growled “Come, come, come to the Sabbat. Come to the Sabbat. Satan’s there!” This is then repeated over and over. The first time I heard it I burst out laughing, but it’s subsequently become my favorite track because it’s so goddamn weird. It’s oddly catchy and the band clearly has its spiked tongue firmly planted in its calloused cheek. Moments like these work, and illustrate a potential way forward for Thokkian Vortex. “Come to the Sabbat” unfortunately ends too quickly, and is replaced by lovely – but fairly standard – ambient noises. This weird dichotomy of fun and super-serious makes Thy Throne is Mine a weirdly and wildly uneven experience.

The overall lighter tone of Thy Throne is a blessing and curse, because the musicians sound a lot more comfortable when proceedings are dark and brutal. “The Moon Brethren” would fit happily on an early Wolves in the Throne Room record, and the atmospheric tones and eerie synths sound effortless and comfortable. “Godspeed Satan,” which embraces a more “black ‘n’ roll approach,” sounds odd by contrast. The shifts are awkward, the solo forced, and the extremely harsh vocals don’t always gel with the gentler rhythm. And if the musicians don’t sound comfortable, it’s especially jarring for the listener.

Thy Throne is Mine is ultimately a disappointing and disjointed listen. The desire to combine second wave black metal with both serious ambient sections and a lighter, more rock ‘n’ roll approach, while occasionally interesting, just doesn’t work as I imagine the band envisioned. The black metal is frequently toothless, the occult shtick is tired and boring, the ambient noise seems out of place, and the lighter sections are amusing but awkward. It all adds up to a bewildering experience. I know these guys put a lot of effort into Thy Throne, but if they’re to make a serious attempt at summiting a mountain any time soon, they really need to settle on a tone and an identity. Because currently, Thokkian Vortex is hobbled and going nowhere.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Non Serviam Records
Releases Worldwide: February 28th, 2020

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