Release DetailsLABEL Adipocere
RELEASED ON 2/28/2005
posted on 4/2005 By:
I’m not entirely sure how many of you are seasoned enough to have witnessed the rise and inevitable decline of Nazgul’s Eyrie Production and its sister label, Conquistador Records, or frequented LARM, the seminal black metal review site. For those of you that remember the hours spent on DALnet's #blackmetal, you will have undoubtedly encountered the infernal Black Goat Opyros (proprietor of said uber kvlt labels and, to my mind, the originator of “Norsecore” as a descriptive catchphrase. To those of you that have no concept of “Norsecore”, simply break the word up into its constituent halves- “Norse”, which implicates archetypal Nordic black metal (think Satyricon’s Shadowthrone), “Core”, which denotes a pronounced grindcore influence. Thus, “Norsecore” is the abominable bastard offspring of black metal, often accompanied by a liberal use of keyboards, pristine production jobs and a generous dose of deathgrind blastbeats.
So while some of you may suggest that the above paragraph was wholly unnecessary in the discussion of Serpenthrone, I just thought I’d take the opportunity to revive a word that has been consistently euphemized as “black death metal”, “symphonic melodic blackened death metal”, or whatever outrageous genre us metal literati throw about with such reckless abandon
Make no mistake about it, Abused Majesty are a Norsecore band. Those of you put off at this point are perfectly welcome to stop reading here.
This is not to say that Abused Majesty are entirely bad- they espouse a sound that resembles Setherial and Sorhin in parts, mid-period Satyricon (Nemesis Divina) and later Immortal in others, with a faint semblance to post-Godless Savage Garden Dimmu Borgir throughout. While many reviews I have read of this record invariably raise Dimmu as a reference point, I feel this to be grossly inaccurate- the use of keyboards on this record is FAR less gratuitous, and Abused Majesty for the most part lack the dynamic (or should I say wantonly theatrical?) edge of most Dimmu material. Instead, their speedy, straightforward synthesis of semi-melodic, dueling guitars and relentless blastbeasts is most certainly Swedish in inclination, alternately reminding one of Dissection, MÖrk Gryning, Watain and Funeral Mist.
I certainly appreciate the role the keyboards play here, the band opting to hide them beneath the buzzing walls of guitar and the frenzied drumwork, allowing the elegantly employed synth work to give the work a spectral, phantasmal quality, accentuating as opposed to distracting from the array of melodies on offer. This restraint is most laudable, considering the plethora of bands that allow the keyboardist top priority in the mix, the ubiquitous presence of synths varnishing the overall product with definite layers of schlock. Thankfully, Abused Majesty are no Dismal Euphony- the synth exists as an elegant counterpoint to the tense and frantic sounds that surround it, instead of wrestling with them.
While Abused Majesty clearly have a concrete grasp on this key concept, this record ultimately bears a great similarity to the Naumachia record I reviewed earlier. While the enthusiasm for their craft is worthy of merit, Serpenthrone being an energetic and admirably played piece as a whole, the songwriting is so trite that it is just as impervious as Naumachia’s Wrathorn was/is. Melodies flutter about incessantly, melding into one another and cascading into vast seas of unceasing blastbeats, none of them rising above uniform mediocrity. The drumming is pitifully monodimensional, all manic double bass work and hyper snare rolls, devoid of the flair and nuanced pizzazz that is required in music this monochromatic. When the band finally decide to provide a respite from the hectic, sweaty proceedings, it proves to be a mere 1:38 instrumental that you wish the band expanded upon, if only to add some dynamic variation to an otherwise tasteless affair.
Not to toot my own horn, but when you’ve been listening to black metal as long as I have, you can tell, within the opening chords, what a Norsecore album is gonna sound like. This is not an inherently bad record, it’s just that there have been a horde of albums just like it, executed in a far more interesting fashion. This record fails to engage me in any fashion, and I imagine it will be similarly unimpressive to you. If you are searching for blackened, occultic, mysterious melodic metal from Poland, check out ANYTHING by Lux Occulta instead. It’s a bit weird to think that the nation once responsible for Imperator and Behemoth’s From The Pagan Vastlands is now the origin for something as faceless as this.
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