Blood Red Throne – Imperial Congregation (Nuclear Blast)Monday, 18th October 2021
Not very often in the metal community do you find a veteran death metal outfit like Blood Red Throne moving up the ranks to Nuclear Blast with their tenth studio record. Yet here we are at that precipice for Imperial Congregation – another blistering example of a five-piece well versed in the art of old school death metal, incorporating elements of thrash and groove to differentiate themselves as well as inject plenty of proficiency when called for in the musicianship department.
The guitar riffing and rhythm section combinations align 90’s-style US savagery with conventional European techniques of smoothness, melodic engagement, and intuitive transitions. Meaning the group can go from speedier parts to doom-like pacing or mid-tempo groovier sections without losing momentum – always planning for the right dynamic trick to garner deeper affinity for the songs. It could mean triplet snare hits and off-time kick parts from drummer Freddie Bolsø on the opening title track, galloping / progressive bass action for Stian Gundersen through “Itika”, or the crushing wall of main riffs and sick, twisted leads during “We All Bleed” that axe masters Død and Ivan Gujić deliver to mesmerize. It’s like taking a template of Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, and Obituary – but putting in a bit of that Scandinavian sophistication and artfulness in, while the shifts of speed also come at you in surprising ways. Another difference maker is the elevation of growls and screams from Yngve ‘Bolt’ Christiansen. He shatters souls when hitting specific high screams during “Conquered Malevolence” beyond his normal evil growls that penetrate in those dark crevices, especially necessary during the epic seven-minute closer “Zarathustra” which features progressive twin guitar harmonies, multiple tempo changes, and this churning sense of impending doom to end this death opus perfectly.
Proof that even the old guard can hunker down and really churn out a heavy death record with diverse tracks, moods, and attention to detail, Blood Red Throne deserves the accolades that should be bestowed upon them for Imperial Congregation.