Blood Red Throne – Nonagon (Soulseller Records)Friday, 26th January 2024
The purity of death metal reigns again through the veins of veteran Norwegian act Blood Red Throne. Together for 26 years, Nonagon is the eleventh studio album for the quintet, a turning point for the group at least on the vocal front as this effort welcomes Sindre Wathne Johnsen, best associated with the melodic death metal band Deception. Although guitarist Daniel ‘Død’ Olaisen remains the lone original member standing from the start, drummer Freddy Bolsø came back in 2013 after his 1998-2002 stint, while second guitarist Ivan Gujic and bassist Stian Gundersen have been a part of the team since 2010 and 2018 respectively. All that really matters is – how will these nine latest tracks stack up next to the previous outings?
Fear not, faithful friends into crushing heaviness. The lacerated screams of Sindre next to his bellowing, deep growls offer the band a multitude of aggressive, emotionally scathing angles to achieve – a concoction that sits next to some of the premiere North American/European death vocalists that excel at this spot. Stian’s bass work also garners occasional spotlight chances, be it during a thoughtful neoclassical lead break for “Every Silent Plea” or a slower, jackhammer-induced sequence where the guitars churn between modern Death/Nevermore next to Slayer or Obituary in the midway highlight “Tempest Sculptor”. The left to right rhythm guitar panning that starts “Split Tongue Sermon” launches into this thunderous fury of low-tuned deadly riffs, fueled by double kick passion or tremolo-oriented picking spots, the slower transition elevating the arrangement to brutality measures. Most of the songs sit comfortably in that four to five-minute sweet spot – leaving the epic twists or blitzkrieg, progressive-oriented musicianship for the almost seven-minute closer “Fleshrend”, the instrumental sequences altering between the best aspects of 90’s-era Death, Monstrosity, and a little Gorguts. The group also continues to utilize the mixing/mastering skills of Ronnie Björnström (Nightrage, Sorcerer) to ensure a top-of-the-line final sonic quality that fits the feel for the musical proceedings.
The previous album Imperial Congregation pushed Blood Red Throne into critical acclaim territory, which they will achieve once again in this follow-up Nonagon. Proof that you can be heavy, slightly adventurous, and diverse all within one album, this should appease the faithful while introducing a host of new people to their ways.