posted on 8/2011 By:
Enthroned has always been the definition of a meat-and-potatoes black metal band: satisfying, but rarely terribly memorable or engrossing. This continues to be the case with Pentagrammaton, their eighth-full length since the project’s inception in 1993. In a year with several excellent black metal releases, this is hardly a must-listen, but it's still a competently-executed package that will entertain those who don’t mind music that's squarely by the books.
Enthroned’s sound has undergone little growth in recent years, but Pentagrammaton is another capable exercise in the band’s familiar style. Shunning the subtle progressions and repetition of their more hypnotic compatriots, Enthroned plays music that sounds like black metal, but is constructed with more of a death metal influence. There’s a lot of different riffs and tempo shifts in each song; the blast beats are fast as hell; and the musicianship is very proficient. But despite their undeniably modern take on black metal, Enthroned still pays plenty of homage to the elders of the genre. The guitar tone is heavy but grim, and the use of samples and ambience adds to the crazed, foreboding atmosphere the band strives for. There’s a solid balance of aggressive bashing and morose melody in the riff department, and while the songs lean on the speedier side of things, the occasional slowdowns are well executed and don’t feel like mere padding for the faster segments.
The basic problem with this album is simply a lack of real identity. There’s a large number of different components at play here, and virtually all of them can be traced back to other, more accomplished bands. Moments like the epic intro to “Unconscious Minds” are diminished, considering that the riff in question is basically copied straight from a non-existent Bathory song, and while the use of melody throughout the disc is pleasing, it typically lacks the subtlety and grandeur that shines forth from the bands from which Enthroned takes inspiration. Similarly, the multi-toned vocals and underwhelming technical flourishes can distract from the basic intent of the songs at times. With such a busy approach to songwriting, Enthroned never really locks down and enthralls the listener, and this effectively defines Pentagrammaton as an album that’s enjoyable when its playing but has no ability to imbed itself in your brain after it ends.
There’s ultimately very little here that will surprise or impress most black metal fans, and those seeking a deeper and more rewarding listening experience will likely feel unsatisfied by Enthroned’s efforts. However, sonically speaking, there’s very little to criticize about Pentagrammaton. It’s a professionally produced and performed album from an experienced band, and the songs are uniformly well-composed and generally fun to listen to. Hardcore black metal fanatics will likely find little to keep them coming back, but for the casual black metal listener who values riffs, intensity, and diversity in songwriting, Pentagrammaton is a decent investment.
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