Throne Of The Depths
posted on 6/2008 By:
Though this is only their sophomore record (their first demo was released way back in 1999) these Germans sound confident and mature and I couldn't be much happier with what they've put out here. Recalling Emperor and Enslaved's colder and more bombastic moments, Drautran inject a healthy pagan/folk element to their black metal to create a sweeping album that succeeds wonderfully on all fronts, especially in its pacing.
The album opens with the hushed "Zum Haff Hinaus..." Sounding like it was recorded atop a mountain under a heavy snow, whispered vocals, acoustic guitars, clean male vocals and later far-off howls usher in the storm as the track builds to the crushing opening riff of "Blót - Lohen Der Opferfung", a classic-feeling black metal track that paves the way for the rest of the tracks here. Its acoustic break and spoken word section at 3:39 complement the barrage of icy riffs and full-on rhythmic assault of the band's heavier side. Drautran qualifies as symphonic black metal in some respects, but they keep their sound raw and somewhat stripped down so the keys are smartly kept buried under the misty production except to make appearances to accentuate melody, like at 2:50 of this song. The howling vocals are also kept a little low, sounding a little distant, and I think it works wonders, making the whole thing sound very primal and raw, just the sound I imagine these guys are going for. Still, the guitars have plenty of meat on their bones and though raw, the sound is far from thin. When the bass and drums lock into a neck-snapping forward charge, like they do often on the excellent "Gebaren Des Sterbens In Klanglosen Sphären", I can feel the impact.
There's a real sense of urgency here that I don't often get with this epic sort of black metal. And it's all the more impressive considering that Throne of the Depths clocks in at over 50 minutes. Drautran just seems to have total control over their ideas; Throne of the Depths is epic but it's not overwrought, and the band pulls from a wide range of inspirations but they don't water them down or lose their identity in the process. "Gebaren Des..." is a good example with its sometimes galloping, sometimes lurching riffs that progress into a tasteful acoustic break followed by surprising and totally convincing female vocals. Or take the melodic "Sævar niðr", which provides a nice respite from the black metal fury and creates a great atmosphere but also stands as an interesting piece on its own. Or look at the restrained but engaging melodic solo after the halfway mark of the mid-paced "Styrt Ned I Mælstraumen." Or the entirety of the criminally short "Gen Niflheim..." whose keyboard melody closes the album out in fine (but tantalizing) fashion.
I could go on like this for a while, because this album is just chock full of great moments that add up to a listening experience well worth your time and money. Though this next reference doesn't immediately connect on all levels, the feeling I get from a sit-down with this album is similar to the feeling Primordial's 2007 release To The Nameless Dead gives me. It's emotionally charged, well-paced and professionally executed like To The Nameless Dead (though I don't want to put it in the same league as that album), but more importantly, just like To The Nameless Dead, Throne of the Depths moves me and never loses that inexplicable feeling of passion and wonder that makes it such a gripping listen. 2008 certainly hasn't been a bad year for black metal, and with Throne of the Depths Drautran have put out a record that should solidify their place near the front of the pack. I look forward to hearing more from this band, and I can't wait for their 1999 demo to be re-released later this year.
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