I have a long standing joke with friends that about fifty percent of death metal bands out there derive their identity with respect to the phrases “Lovecraftian horror” and “anti-Christian,” and Throne of Heresy isn’t out to prove me wrong. So find a bucket, because Antioch is the perfect chance to revisit a favorite conceit of mine; the album review as a drinking game. Those of you who are veterans of Angry Metal Guy will have hopefully recovered as much as possible from the first episode, which leaves us in the perfect position to relapse with an even more thorough inebriation initiative. Guided by the talented gentlemen of Throne of Heresy, we’re about to embark on a dangerous journey of discovery (mainly with regards to liver functionality) known to its players as The Death Metal Drinking Game.
Throne of Heresy are a Swedish (drink, drink) five-piece (sip) blackened death metal band and Antioch (reference to history of Christianity, take a sip) is their sophomore effort. It’s ten tracks long, lasts 40 minutes and comes in at DR6 (do you see what you’re getting into here?). But hey, metadata can only tell you so much; what matters is what’s on the inside – half a workout’s worth of trope-filled, predictable, but ultimately competent death metal. One needn’t have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the genre to nail down Throne‘s biggest influence right off the bat. One power chord into “The God Delusion” (keep them coming) and the Bloodbath-ism is clear as the nose sawed off a cadaver’s face. In fact, I’d say that if you were disappointed by Grand Morbid Funeral, this is the album you may have been looking for in its place; if Mikael Åkerfeldt had been replaced by Decapitated‘s Rafał Piotrowski rather than Nick Holmes, Bloodbath and Throne of Heresy would be completely indistinguishable.
In an astonishing display of restraint, that very singer, Thomas Clifford, waits until the third song, “Nemesis Rising” to utter the words “Leviathan” (take a shot), “Cthulu” (finish your drink), and “death may die” (fill a horn with mead, set aside). In keeping with these highly original themes, most of these songs ride on pretty tried and true chugging, buzzing power chords, and blast beats of somewhat different tempos (drink). Though the majority of the album is set at a middling pace, the band does shuffle the deck with faster tempos in songs like “Phosphorus,” which sounds a lot like Abysmal Dawn when it kicks into high gear. Occasional breakdowns break down as well, accompanied with stronger melody on “Souls for the Sepulchre.”
Once you’ve downed that horn of mead at seeing the above jean jackets, the thought might wind its way into your pickled brain that Throne of Heresy doesn’t seem to have a lot going for them; yet in terms of digestibility this album is exemplary. Though I certainly won’t be returning to it come the year’s end, Antioch is structured quite well as an album, saving its best song for last and keeping a remarkably steady pace. Beyond that, its songs are enticing in their simplicity; you know what’s coming next because they often follow a simple rock song structure, and the band knows when to bring back important riffs.
Antioch lacks the creativity of Abysmal Dawn or the lovable ham-fistedness you get from Gluttony or Jungle Rot, and though it’s a very competent release – the band makes a good stab at writing songs – it’s just not fun or interesting enough to stay on rotation. Throne of Heresy can follow their idols punch-for-punch, but that’s not worth much when the ring is so stuffed with other boxers. If you’re looking for a fun death metal record that doesn’t try to impress, you can stop here, but I can’t recommend it for anything other than passive listening because of how ultimately unoriginal and fleeting the experience is.
It’s now safe to stop drinking [We deny any and all responsibility for excessive consumption of alcohol, drugs or Viking horns. – Steel Druhm].