Although they’d stood without hesitation on a bridge cast over the abyss two years prior and merely stared into the endless beyond, the paradigm fully shifts here on this tenth full-length from Bytom, Poland-based death metal trio Throneum wherein drug-induced psychoses, esoteric vanities, and avant-garde disruption of forms make for an unlovable yet enriching spear-struck bleeding of all ancient death’s gods. The drying grime of ichor scraped up by frantic fingernails clawing their way to freedom collects as grey streaks of hand-painted insanity, a markedly barbaric and ominous indication of what dryly presented doom awaits for those willing to sit and be entranced by the barbarism of ‘Oh Death... Oh Death... Determinate, Preach and Lead Us Astray...’. It is an ode to personal horrors free of self-conscious strife, a hateful surge of anti-luxurious death worship, and a brutally simplistic rendering of a mind half-escaped and nearly free of all encumbering sanity.
Brutality, battery and interminable visions of suffering aside, the ninth LP (‘The Tight Deathrope Act Over Rubicon‘, 2018) from these long-running and incessantly twisted cult outsiders was the fruit of an obsession rooted in finding new forms whilst employing a love for the deepest underground outliers for their tastes (Mekong Delta, early Abruptum, etc.). It’d been a rousing shift away from their past, a fairly straightforward and brutal career up until that point, a history lightly detailed in a prior review for the album. In more plainly stated terms, the trio were reaching for their idea of strange, avant-garde, and notably divergent music and in pulling from their own wheelhouse of busted and outlandish obscurities they’d managed a very unexpected and impressive album. It wasn’t any huge surprise that it’d been overlooked in 2018, the album art was a mess and the style of the record didn’t fit into any particular niche or trend. As a general rule, Throneum are an underground death metal band who simply do not play the ‘game’ and continue to do exactly whatever the fuck they are wont to do, and this couldn’t be more true when considering the estrangement conveyed within this tenth album. I don’t want to suggest the experience is -that- bizarre, to structure a full-length around three extended ‘main’ pieces is not unheard of, but for a band such as this it isn’t often we’ll see 12-15 minute songs beyond the atmospheric death/doom metal style.
Three of the six songs on ‘Oh Death... Oh Death... Determinate, Preach and Lead Us Astray...’ are 90 second interludes, each relaying a sense of psychedelia-bent cognition by way of cosmic synth, stark piano strumming, or the ancient sci-fi suspense built on “Epsilon_agla.on.TETRAGRAMMATON” and yes, that is a typical song title on this incredibly strange album. The remaining three songs offer what is essentially what Throneum had been working towards with “Enochian Lexicon” parts I-IV and “Primal Words. Orphic” on the previous album — Mid-paced, long-winded, highly textural, avant-garde death metal songs that are simplistic in their performances (see: Order From Chaos) yet constructed as extended ‘epics’ that roll capably between blasting death and ‘Vanity/Nemesis’-esque riffing. It is an experience with far greater dynamic fluidity than that any prior album from the band. To start, “Alpha_soulside.space.stream” is a vital point of introduction as the opening riff and progression doesn’t appear to be anything special before it develops into a much more grand statement of dissent and brutality as the 15+ minute song prolapses itself. A brutish, live-in studio sounding recording intends to make the song appear far more a barbaric clubbing than it really is; This’d been my only issue with the album as a whole, wherein the lo-fi meaty bang of Throneum‘s sound doesn’t exactly match up with the space-faring esotericism of its compositions and themes. The last five minutes of the album opener make a strong enough case that the trio surely know what they’re doing, and after I’d take the hint to ease up it’d been just a few full spins ’til I’d resign to let Throneum do their thing and enjoy the ride. They will never change my mind about that cover art, though.
“Delta:self-appointed-grandeur” was an interesting choice for a preview track/single leading up to release, if only because it is long at ~12 minutes and easily the most odd piece of the full listen thanks to haunting guest vocals from Pia “Luzzi” Deckert and frequent riff transitions that often feel disjointed or improvisational — As if Penance‘s ‘The Road Less Travelled’ were performed by Therion circa 1991 and left unmixed. I’d also felt it was the song tied most closely with the material on ‘The Tight Deathrope Act Over Rubicon’ thanks to more frequently blasting drum performances; This’d kept the album from feeling entirely alien within Throneum‘s discography. The third piece of the puzzle, “Zeta_archangel.lucifer.god”, renders the album complete in statement and theme as a tonal accumulation of eerie sounds, doomed riffs, and break-neck terror experienced up to that point. The atmosphere created by the aforementioned interludes now creeps into this third pillar of a song, adding a psychotropic effect to the piece through flitting repetition. The hive mind has shattered, some unseen conquer in the distant cosmos has severed us from it, and this paradigm eructed by way of ‘Oh Death... Oh Death... Determinate, Preach and Lead Us Astray...’ is gate-crashing more than it is key-in-lock or any sort of fitting growth. Throneum have simply punched and wrestled their way to transcendental noise and in doing so they’ve maintained their 80’s death metal grittiness despite the non-absolutist ‘old school’ avant-garde spiritus of their new path.
Cosmic filth, eclectic barbarism, psychotic atmospheric abandon, all manner of description cannot do perfect justice to the personal and harrowing gnarl experienced across many, many spins of Throneum‘s tenth album but all of it remains a redeeming pile of disgust in my mind; A worthwhile trip requiring some patience and adoration of idiosyncratic and never self-conscious death worship. A reserved but high recommendation for this primitive psychedelic death metal album, I fully expect nothing but conflicted emotions towards a wretched, brutish and cosmically-sourced work such as this.
High recommendation. 4.0/5.0
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