Enthroned - Cold Black Suns review

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Band: Enthroned
Album: Cold Black Suns
Release date: June 2019

01. Ophiusa
02. Hosanna Satana
03. Oneiros
04. Vapula Omega
05. Silent Redemption
06. Aghoria
07. Beyond Humane Greed
08. Smoking Mirror
09. Son Of Man

Sometimes wars exist only in ourselves.

Whether you want to call it consistent or repetitive, Enthroned have constructed a lengthy discography since releasing their full-length debut back in '95, and with so few changes stylistically throughout that time, you'd be forgiven if you have trouble telling every album apart. They all follow essentially the same formula as every second-wave black metal album of the '90s, with a rigidly by-the-numbers approach, but something that has helped them remain relevant despite this strict adherence to the old school formula is their technical prowess. Cold Black Suns acts as a perfect insight into the band's entire catalog, following their internal rules of structure and outright refusal to experiment while promoting excellent musicianship and mature songwriting.

Though mostly direct in its delivery, this album isn't quite the level of brutal you'd expect from a band of this nature. Rather than aiming to usurp the heavier, louder, unrelenting alternatives such as Watain or Marduk, Enthroned play it a little safer with the kvlt factor dialed back in favor of creating a richer, more textured assault. This is evident during the plodding breakdowns and wandering riffs that work to establish an atmosphere of extremity as opposed to simply blasting and shredding their way through their material, as is their modus operandi. It's more Deathspell Omega than Inquisition. This has been the case ever since Nornagest assumed sole composing duties after the departure of original member Sabathan, who seemed to have a hand in the band's single-layer approach leading up to his final appearance on XES Haereticum. You can pinpoint this dichotomy just by looking at the cover art of each album. Earlier albums featured colorful visuals, whereas their modern releases are adorned in black.

One noticeably lacking trait under the Nornagest era is the melody. With the focus geared on atmosphere and sound design, unfortunately the songwriting has taken a hit and offers very little in terms of engaging riffs or solos or really any sweeping harmonies at all. That style definitely works for those looking to experience a no frills, straightforward black metal onslaught, but for anyone hoping to latch on to any succulent sounding melodies, you'll have to look elsewhere. Cold Black Suns doesn't provide anything substantial to set it apart from the hordes of other black metal albums being put out every day. It just comes across as fairly run-of-the-mill, standard, dime-a-dozen -- take your pick. The flow of the album is great, the musicianship is tight and controlled, the production gives every instrument some levity, but all that technical prowess can't make up for what is ultimately uninteresting music. If more songs followed along with the likes of "Silent Redemption", covering the bases of everything the Enthroned name has become known for, this review would read drastically different. Perhaps this next decade will see them put it all together at some point.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 5
Production: 10


Written on 13.10.2019 by Just another opinionated guy telling you what to listen to.

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