Tuesday 29 September 2015

Wild Throne - 'Harvest of Darkness’ (Album Review)

By: Phil Weller

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 02/10/2015
Label: Roadrunner Records

Alongside the ingenuities and provocative pieces from ‘Blood Maker’ ‘I Of The Prism’ is another scintillating highlight. It’s brazen guitar work and searing vocal lines force a real sense of horripilation upon you, you don’t so much as listen to this as you do experience it. It’s structure is a labyrinth of crazed punk drumming, a really atmospheric but menacing ,reverb drenched instrumentation and enough melody to blind a unicorn.

‘Harvest of Darkness’ CD//DD track listing:

01 – “Harvest Of Darkness
02 – “Shadow Deserts
03 – “Fear Yourself
04 – “Lone Lust
05 – “Death Of A Star
06 – “Blood Maker
07 – “I Of The Prism
08 – “War Is A Romance
09 – “Born To Die
10 – “The Wrecking Ball Unchained
11 – “Trans

The Review:

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. A road worn guitar, paint stripped and scratched, cocaine pocked in the rusted Seymour Duncan humbuckers, is placed into its casket and lowered into the ground. Tears fall too, slaves to gravity that congregate on the earth like a pack of wolves. Rock is dead.  Gene Simmons has spoken; a man who has drained every conceivable penny out of his ‘brand’ and is the embodiment of the genre’s industrialisation.

Adding fuel to the fire too – or should that be cremation? – is Germanic powerhouse and Rammstein vocalist Till Lindemann. He states that he wouldn’t start a band in this contemporary climate, where bands are given little chance to reach the upper echelons of an ever aging and shrinking group of festival headliners and elite bands – his band being one of these Stonemasons.  In that sense then, the fairy tale happenings of Bellingham, Washington three piece Wild Throne shouldn’t exist, it should be exactly that – a fairy tale, an augmented take on reality where everything is hunky dory. There is no room for ascension when the royal court is a dilapidating mess, brought to ruin by the industrialisation of an art form once full of expression, passion and, ultimately, success through global notoriety and financial gain.

Yet, 16 months after releasing their three track debut EP, ‘Blood Maker’, a collection of dastardly pompous, outrageous but ultimately thrill seeking rock n’ roll, they’ve signed a deal with Roadrunner Records and are on the verge of releasing one of the best debut long players in years. They came, one of the biggest and most prolific labels and creators of champions and now they are poised to conquer. And fuck it, I’m gonna buy the t-shirt. They have my money. Wild Throne are everything messers Simmons and Lindemann said were paucity. Or perhaps they’re the last of a dying breed. Regardless, this is their moment to savour. 

To that effect, ‘Harvest of Darkness’ stands tall, proud and defiant, belying a transfixing modernity and artistic determination for their compositions to be like a skyline on Guy Fawkes Night: Full of explosions, bursts of light and vibrant colour and boasting a pure, illuminated majesty that is so wonderfully juxtaposed by the blackness it calls its canvas. The whole record flows reverently, it’s current gripping your ankles no matter how hard you may try to fight it. There’s a beating heartbeat which you can feel and hear throughout. Where there are changes in tempo, where passages are jagged and threatening or sweetly serene still that pulsating heartbeat sounds. The album is alive.

In many ways this album is the future. I mean, our elder statesmen are right really, bands don’t clamber up the league tables like they used to. It took Avenged Sevenfold 15 years of hard slog to be honoured with a headline slot at Donnington for instance – 14 for Slipknot – and even then there were the naysayers who questioned their stature and ability to handle such a task. But times are changing too. These days, albums and the bands that create them are single standing entities; there are few real movements that generate the momentum to make a collective cultural impact like the flower power movement of the 60s or the thrash invasion of the 1980s.  But it’s weird how, in a time where we seem to find offense in everything and anything, music never manages to truly shock us anymore, to never really inspire that emotive surge where we the people join together and make a band heroes. It’s all been done before as far as revolution and button pushing is concerned – the closet we’ve come to that in recent times is arguably dubstep. So yes, perhaps the true forcefulness of rock n’ roll is dead, we can’t spark anything overtly sensational through crunching guitars and well penned lyrics anymore but we can still appreciate a good album when it regurgitates down your lug’oles and ‘Harvest of Darkness’ is one of the best. You’ll struggle to hear a more rounded and exquisitely executed release this year.  Considering that this is a debut full length release that achievement only becomes more remarkable.

Alongside the ingenuities and provocative pieces from ‘Blood Maker’ which are included again on this release – and deservedly so, let the music do the talking with those – ‘I Of The Prism’ is another scintillating highlight. It’s brazen guitar work and searing vocal lines force a real sense of horripilation upon you, you don’t so much as listen to this as you do experience it. Its structure is a labyrinth of crazed punk drumming, a really atmospheric but menacing, reverb drenched instrumentation and enough melody to blind a unicorn. The maze then leads you straight to the heart of the emphatic, anthemic lead single ‘War Is A Romance’.

Across the track’s frenetic, as-chaotic-as-a-bouncy-ball-launched-into-a-tiny-rubber-lined-room length, you pass through so many dimensions, musical references, gorgeous, spine-tingling nuances and insatiable fury. It stops you dead in your tracks. From the Motörhead styled, foot-to-the-accelerator openings, to Mastodon like pummelling’s later on down the line, betwixt solos that twist and scream like one of Jack the Ripper’s vulnerable and squeamish victims, it’s a song that has more than affirmed my already well established love for this band. Their oeuvre is simply devastating. 

The bastard love child The Mars Volta, Glassjaw, Coheed & Cambria and Muse, while undertones of punk rock angst and power, it’s easy to see their standpoint from an ideological stance. Piecing the intricacies and nuances together however is a much trickier affair, but this is a release which basks in the bafflement it causes. Soaring choruses and vocal work – with many lyrical themes touching upon the human condition, its strengths and its weaknesses, its failings and its beauty – are the icing on the cake however. They give the bigger picture a much sweeter and addictive coating. ‘Lone Lust’ is delicate meanwhile. Quieter mostly, more experimental with the dynamic depth and diversity at their disposal, you cans see themselves pushing their creative aesthetic, feeling where the boundaries to their strengths and capabilities lie. There is, I must add, enough room to swing a tiger within those confines. 

It all ends with ‘Trans,’ a barrage of spasmodic rhythms, Josh Holland going hell for leather on his whammy pedal with it all coming across so vulgar and messy but in the best possible way. Their sound is huge, thanks in part to all that reverb, and there is a real depth to it which swallows you like a whale shark will to whichever poor creatures just so happen to cross its path at the wrong time.  So lay your flowers on the turf and wipe your cheek one last time. Hell, say a few sorrowful words if you have to. Rock is dead and this is its funeral. Question is; why does it sound so damn good?

Harvest of Darkness’ is available here

FFO: The Mars Volta, Glassjaw, Coheed & Cambria and Muse

Band info: official | facebook