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Throne Of Malediction - "EP One" (CD/EP)

Throne Of Malediction - "EP One" CD/EP cover image

"EP One" track listing:

1. Breath of Life (3:21)
2. Dark Chariot (3:34)
3. Not Living (4:07)
4. Devoured (2:40)
5. The Sands Prelude (1:36)
6. The Sands (3:38)
7. Rita (3:30)
8. Tyrant's Crusade (3:18)
9. Enemy (4:03)

Reviewed by on March 16, 2009

"There are echoes of death metal, thrash, and even hardcore, but none of those labels fully apply to the music as a whole."

It doesn’t get much more underground than the frequently frozen hinterlands of Montana, and not many would expect a metal band of any quality to hail from such an inauspicious location. If places like Norway have taught the world anything, however, it’s that the frigid backwoods can produce some very surprising musical talents. Throne of Malediction is one such group of up-and-comers who have been forced to make their own unique sound because, frankly, there just aren’t enough other bands in their scene for them to copy anyone else.

With a name like “Throne of Malediction,” it would seem to be a no-brainer that this is a black metal outfit, but that’s oddly not the case. While there are certainly some black metal influences heard throughout the EP, the band goes for a much different take than the average corpse paint and spiked armor act. There are echoes of death metal, thrash, and even hardcore, but none of those labels fully apply to the music as a whole. “Extreme metal” is probably the best description, despite its drawbacks as a catch all term.

The production is on the rougher side, which is to be expected from an underground band’s debut EP. The instruments can all generally be heard, they’re just a bit fuzzy. The fuzz is especially noticeable for the first segment of opening track “Breath of Life,” but by the end of the song it becomes much less of an issue as the sounds start to sink in. The dual guitar approach helps out a good deal, as they don’t always stick to the formula of one instrument keeping a beat and the other attempting more impressive musical feats. Each will regularly play off each other’s sound to spice up a song, such as on “Dark Chariot” where the up and down feel of the interchanging riffs has an off balancing and unsettling effect. The guitars almost exclusively use thick distortion, which makes for a very heavy album. Unfortunately the non-stop distortion coupled with the lower end production occasionally gives the guitars a tinny sound that can be distracting.

“EP One” has a good mix of growling and screaming vocals as well as both male and female clean vocals. While the clean singing on “Breath of Life” suffers from the production, sounding a bit like its being filtered through cupped hands, the rest of clean vocals hit the sound perfectly. “Enemy” is definitely the clean vocal highlight of the album, with the male vocalist hitting his stride and creating a deep nasal tone that really stretches out his range.

The EP has an overall great pacing, roving from breakneck pacing to slower interludes so the songs don’t stick to the same formula for too long. “Devoured” has a very chunky and forceful sound that will make listeners want to jump up and starting punching people, while “Rita” uses background acoustic guitars and electric effects for a mournful atmosphere.

The only major misstep in “EP One” occurs halfway through with “The Sands Prelude.” The song starts with the band members discussing the song for no apparent reason, which is jarring because of its lack of music. When the music does begin, it becomes one of the best tracks on the album, creating an Arabian style composition that’s heavy on atmosphere and drops the distortion. The next song, “Sands,” then starts up using the exact same riff, but unfortunately the extreme distortion gets added in again, so any vestiges of atmosphere from its predecessor are completely lost. While the song is decent on its own, the earlier version was done much better and makes it hard to appreciate “Sands.”

“EP One” is a great debut from an underground band that can only go up from here. Fans of nearly any style of extreme metal should find something to like if they can look past the lower end production and few minor problems.

Highs: Unique sound, good pacing, interesting guitar and vocal melodies

Lows: Lower end production, too much distortion

Bottom line: A great debut from a metal band that breaks genre boundaries and only suffers from relatively minor missteps

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)