March Into the Dark Past With Crimson Throne

Black metal’s standard lyrical themes are now very well known and established: satan, war, winter, evil and so on. Similarly, the musical imprint of the 2nd-wave Mayhem/Darkthrone/Burzum variety has made it very easy to recognize and distinguish from other styles. So for newer bands, is there a way to craft a unique identity without picking yet another style to cross over to and label it “a new direction?”

England’s Crimson Throne is bent on achieving that very goal, proudly borrowing from the Norwegian and Swedish greats of the 90s while blending some classic heavy metal and a bit of melodic thrash in as well. They retain the dark and evil atmosphere of 2nd-wave black metal while adding some extra swagger and guitar solos. Think of them as a rawer take on Primordial, with vocals that blend the high-pitched fury of early Gorgoroth with the whispering rasps of Beherit and Demoncy. The band has a new self-titled EP coming out on March 17 on Apocalyptic Witchcraft, Secret Law Records, and Red River Family in the United States.

With song titles like “Forgotten Nobility” and “Praetorian March,” the band clearly has an eye (or ear) for history. But rather than reach into the glory of England’s past and myths (like their countrymen in Winterfylleth), the band takes a different approach:

“The lyrics on the EP draw influence from world-historical events and individuals, and how we moderns are to both comprehend them, and to cope with their effects. They deal with questions of value and its contingency, pessimism, despair, and creative acts of will manifested by figures from antiquity. In particular, the lyrics are inspired by the decay of the Roman Empire; the exploits of Cesare Borgia, Sargon II, Hannibal Barca; and medieval practices of torture. Each song considers such events and ideas in light of one’s coming to terms with the recurring historical theme of human violence, cruelty, domination, and the Hegelian conception of history as a “slaughter-bench”.”

Sound more like a book description, doesn’t it? (I’d read it!) The band’s sound is well-suited for the subject matter. It’s clear and robust, yet not over-produced in any way. This bodes well for future full-length albums and tours, which I hope they’ll bring to the United States. We have plenty of “pessimism and despair” to go around lately, we could use some “creative acts of will” now and then. Definitely an underground black metal band to follow.