Hellishthrone – The Book Of War – Tales Of Forthcoming Battles For The Throne

I fired this album up expecting something ala Magister Dixit; dementedly epic, fast, savage black metal that requires a major suspension of disbelief to even grasp.  That’s not quite what I got; Hellishthrone prefers to engage in a mostly midpaced, epic, occasionally rock-influenced breed of black metal that really makes no sense to anyone but themselves.  The whole album is very strange; it’s extremely short, with only about fifteen music of ‘real’ music present at all, the rest being strange, murky ambient.  It might be a concept album; being broken up into ‘chapters’ suggests it, but who actually knows?  The whole album is very strange from beginning to end and I have a feeling that the band was going for some perplexingly specific idea with this release at the behest of some particular mental fixation.

The ambient material is strange, made up of odd, distant battle sounds and murky, indecipherable noises; they bookend the album, including one hidden, untitled track of strange gurgling noises and horses galloping.  The black metal is pretty weird too; there’s maybe three minutes total of uptempo material and the rest is very odd and midpaced.  Occasionally a large, obvious rock influence will pop in completely out of nowhere, such as on ‘Ode To The Victorious Campaigns’ before immediately disappearing and returning to epic, midpaced, somewhat depressive black metal.  Riffs are composed of slowly unfolding, grandiose chords or single notes, perpetually laced with dramatic vibrato and a nearly gothic atmosphere in parts.  Vocals are rather shrieking and melodramatic, and the surprisingly high bass presence gives the music a depressive edge on tracks such as ‘Inquisition Reversed’.  And then you have ‘For The Battles To Come’, which is a guitar-only piece which contains both electric guitar and what sounds like a mandolin.

And then it’s just sort of… over, since the whole release is only about 25 minutes long.  It’s almost as if Hellishthrone had an insanely sprawling multi-disc concept album laid out but suddenly realized while walking into the studio that they only had enough money for a handful of random songs and decided it was better than nothing.  What the hell is going on with this record?  It’s really interesting and encourages multiple listens just due to how short and bizarre it is, but it raises more questions than it does answers about the nature of the band.  I’m not even sure of how I feel about it; the music is just so oddly atmosphered and goes in so many directions that the members of Hellishthrone could be brilliant or retarded or maybe both at the same time.  It’s not an album you listen to so much as study and desperately wonder what crucial piece of the whole puzzle you’re missing that will suddenly unlock its secrets so you can go about your business without thinking about this random Brazilian black metal band any more.


~ by noktorn on September 8, 2008.

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