Review - Black Throne Initiate: Selves We Cannot Forgive
I had never heard of this band until this album released last Friday and I happened to stumble upon it while aimlessly shopping for music. Normally when I buy something on a whim I kick myself when I hear the first track, realizing I should have done some research. Well guys, I finally picked a winner. I apologize in advance for not having knowledge of their previous albums to show how they've progressed. This review will come from the perspective of someone who is just now discovering this band, I hope you all don't mind.
Black Crown Initiate's third release and second full length album, "Selves We Cannot Forgive", is everything a metal fan like me could want. It's got its lovably death metal moments while also demonstrating an amazing amount of restraint, bringing in some beautifully melodic segments. The band features Andy Thomas on guitars and vocals, Nick Shaw on bass, James Dorton on harsh vocals, Jesse Beahler on drums and Wes Hauch on guitars.
The first track, "For Red Cloud", is honestly not a great introduction to what else is in store on this album. That's not to say it's a bad song, it's a good one for sure, it's just a questionable opener. I found this track to be one of the less diverse tunes on the album, it's practically just a good 'ol death metal song with a sort-of out-of-place melodic chorus. For me the second track, "Sorrowplasm" is where this album really starts to find its footing. It starts off sound a bit like a 'Tool' intro with a soft, proggy electric guitar. After a minute or so of build-up the band blows the door off it's hinges. The main riff is nice and sludgy, the double-bass drum action is placed at just the right moments and the vocals are gravelly and aggressive before they seamlessly blossom into beautiful cleans. This is a song that feels epic-in-scope and delivers in all of the right areas.
"Again" is another great track, it's more of a melodically-driven song that lacks the outright percussive nature of some of the others. There's an interesting pace-changing chorus in which they break out the screams and we're treated to a juicy down-tuned guitar that travels along a repeated descending scale. Next up is in my opinion this album's magnum opus; "Belie The Machine". This is an epic 9-minute-long beast of a track. The song starts of simply enough, quietly weaving a soft melodic tapestry; only to punch me right in the crotch after the minute-mark. I got a strong 'Gojira' vibe from the heavier sections of this song. The synchronized jack-hammer guitars and double-bass drums are featured prominently here. There's also some great rapid-pace acoustic picking during the bridge in the song that then crescendos into a massively epic payoff.
The album's title track, "Selves We Cannot Forgive" is no slouch either. It's more melodic than most songs on the album and turns from soft-to-heavy on a dime, coming off as almost bipolar. Some of the most beautiful and contagious melodies are featured on this song and the heavy moments counterbalance the song very well. "Transmit to Disconnect" is easily one of the heaviest tracks on the album, it's pretty much death-growls and pummeling instruments throughout it's entirety. This is a great demonstration of this bands trademark aggression. This song is like a freight train careening down the track that's in a constant state of near-derailment, and it's all the better for it.
"Matriarch" has a progressive early-'Mastodon'-esque intro. This track is another highlight off the album. The song features one of the best choruses on the album and has some great instrumentation throughout. The bridge is a quiet, but welcome reprieve before the chorus comes in for one last effective send off. This is also the last "heavy" song on the album, which flows seamlessly into the somber but darkly alluring final song; "Vicious Lives". This song is easily the shortest track on the album clocking in just over three minutes, but it's a tremendous three minutes and it ends the album on just right note.
What a journey this album was. While I can't say the album is perfect, as their are a couple of tracks that don't quite bring it like the others do, it's still going to be up there on my end-of-the-year list. Here's hoping this band continues to gain traction and grow its fan-base so they can further their sound even more. Rest assured, I'll be jamming this album for the foreseeable future and I can't wait to hear what this band conjures up next.
Written by Rhys Paine on 8/4/2016