Bloodthrone – Shield of Hate – 4/5
Another one that sparked my attention, maintaining a raw element to their sound that reminisces back to the 1st wave, where black metal felt fairly heavily thrash influenced in tone, never forgetting what lessons have been learnt since. What this results in is a well performed sound capable of maintaining an aggressive and raw atmosphere with enough of a melody to sustain interest. Whilst not the most original of pieces, adding little to the fold that sets them apart from those before them, they simply perform the style well, living up to the high standard already set.
The highlight of this outfit is unquestionably the phenomenal guitar work; the bass capable of fleshing out the sound, prominently heard delivering the heart of rhythm allowing the lead guitars to go off on a tangent (which they frequently will). From treble-filled tremolo riffs to catchy slower paced ‘demonic grooves,’ and even a fitting Kerry-King-esque shredded solo, as the album progresses their abilities only seem to improve, and where most aspects tire – failing to bring something memorable to the track – they prove themselves consistently capable of varying their pace, retaining that essential melodic yet dissonant chaotic tone; that required ‘wall of sound,’ to the proceedings.
The drums perform in a manner to be expected, a superb raw furious tone emerging from their production, prominently heard performing a number of high speed beats without shifting focus from the melody produced by the guitars. Whilst his ability to use all the drums at his disposal is notable, and demonstrates his capabilities in providing a number of interesting fills, the heart of the beats that he performs often feel remarkably similar, and ultimately unmemorable. In a similar manner the vocals often present themselves in a monotonous fashion. Providing an immense sense of energy; his powerful high-pitched shrieks can be heard fighting against the instrumentation to be heard, they simply falter in providing much variety to the end result.
This is one of those black metal albums that have done nothing to try and break the mould; they wont be winning awards for creativity or for pushing any genre boundaries (in fact, if anything their sound feels as though it has regressed in time), but it is simply a style that is performed well. The raw energy proving once again that melody and raw production are not mutually exclusive, and whilst many aspects may quickly be forgotten, the guitars succeed in providing a constant source of intrigue to one of the better bands amidst a stagnating style.
Highlights: Seven Daggers, Betrayed by Blood