Saturday, 25 October 2014

Beneath - The Barren Throne (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 29/4/2014
Label: Unique Leader Records

‘The Barren Throne’ CD/DD track listing:

1. Depleted Kingdom
2. Chalice
3. The Barren Throne
4. Putrid Seed of Affection
5. Iron Jaw
6. Sovereign Carnal Passion
7. Sky Burial
8. Veil of Mercy
9. Mass Extinction Codex
10. Storm Drainer
11. Unearthed


Formed in the winter of 2007/2008, the members of BENEATH have all been active in the Icelandic metal scene for some years, with current and former connections to Sororicide, Changer, Atrum, Azoic and Diabolus to name a few. After making their live debut supporting The Black Dahlia Murder in January 2009 and after winning the inaugural Icelandic finals for the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle they became the first Icelandic band to perform at the Wacken Open Air festival in August 2009. More festival appearances followed, amongst others Death Feast Open Air in 2010 and Neurotic Deathfest in 2011. In February 2010, BENEATH released their debut Hollow Empty Void EP on Mordbrann Musikk which landed them a record deal with Unique Leader Records. In 2012 the band released their first full-length, Enslaved By Fear, which was mixed by Daniel Bergstrand at Dug Out studios in Uppsala, Sweden.In 2013, singer and founder Gisli Sigmundsson left the band and was replaced by Benedikt Natanael Bjarnason (Azoic).

The Band:

Benedikt Natanael Bjarnason | vocals
Jóhann Ingi Sigurðsson | guitar
Unnar Sigurðsson | guitar
Gísli Rúnar Guðmundsson | bass
Ragnar Sverrisson | drums


‘The Barren Throne’ is a great release from Beneath, showcasing loads of talent. It's a mix of Black, Death, and a little bit of Prog, all mixed within a cauldron of dark imagery and a tale of a dark being awakening and creating a world of despair and destruction. 

The opener, ‘Depleted Kingdom’, is a massive 7+ minutes of heaviness, with a beautiful clean guitar section to introduce it and the music really takes off from there, with more technical and melodic guitar sections sprinkled throughout, balancing the brutality of the black and death metal influences. It's a very heavy album that likes to go up for air and then right back into the blackened depths. The album has the band projecting a destroyed landscape, that is only going to waste away now that a dark god, or similar being, has awoken, and it’s captured well by the overall sound.

It’s very dark and brooding, with overdrive and distortion galore, knifing at the listener with harmonics and squeals, and rasping with speed runs along the tortured guitars. It’s a grand sound, and brings you right into the world they are describing at length.  

Another great track is the titular ‘The Barren Throne’, which gives some room for the drummer to really give it to the listener. He is fast, not too concerned with driving the listener to insanity with crash and splash, and holds both guitar and bass with his rhythmic pummeling of what I assume are flayed skins of failed groupies. Production on the album is pretty spot on, all the way around. No one out balances the others, the guitars are clear and heavy, drums are balanced, and the singer is gargly yet clear, like tortured static coming at you through an instrument of flesh and sinew, with everything meshing well to the ear. It’s never muddy or distorted, and this is a very big plus. You don’t want to miss any detail on this release, as madness never riffed this good! 

The album is rounded out with some stellar artwork, displaying the titular being, and the destruction pontificated throughout the album. It's beautifully done, and shows that some of the money went pretty far. It's a great album to snag, and will compliment any music collection. Just make sure it doesn’t summon wanton destruction when you’re not looking!

Words by: Hunter Young

You can pick up a copy here

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