Beneath – The Barren Throne (Unique Leader)

Wednesday, 23rd April 2014
Rating: 8/10

Icelandic death metallers Beneath return for their second Unique Leader offering with The Barren Throne.  With a new vocalist in tow, Beneath looks to further the number of high caliber death metal offerings from Unique Leader so far in 2014 (The Kennedy Veil, Soreption, Alterbeast).  The Barren Throne is a valiant attempt to continue those strides, with the fury of Hate Eternal and Decapitated coupled with the precision of Anata.

First and foremost, Beneath’s chops are massive.  Blistering out some punishing numbers like “Chalice” and “Putrid Seed of Affection” seems like child’s play to the band. Although there are technical aspects to the songwriting, they weave in some sinister melodies into tracks that keep things from becoming mundane.  One album highlight is the slow and methodical “Sky Burial,” the longest song of the bunch, which shows the band as more than just speed freaks.  The song has a sorrowful and grim feeling, and couldn’t come at a better point in the disc to break things up.

While being technically driven, The Barren Throne knows how to lay down groove.  This helps to solidify the tracks as being actual songs instead of technical fodder and gives the listener something to hold onto.  The opening of “Iron Jaw,” “Unearthed,” and “The Barren Throne” all show what Beneath is capable of with writing some memorable groove.  As an added bonus, the sheer velocity of other songs like “Veil of Mercy” provide a solid adrenaline rush.

The Barren Throne is a more than competent blend of technical skill and groove.  At 52 minutes, there are a few moments where the band plummets into the brutal death pitfall of redundancy but certainly fewer times than most bands of this ilk.  If you have been enjoying much of what 2014 has been throwing your way in regards to technical death metal, it’s safe to say that Beneath will give you more of what you’re looking for.

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