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Throne of Katarsis - "Helvete - Det Iskalde Mørket" (CD)

Throne of Katarsis - "Helvete - Det Iskalde Mørket" CD cover image

"Helvete - Det Iskalde Mørket" track listing:

1. The Winds of Blasphemy (9:42)
2. Lysets Endeligt (6:04)
3. The Darkest Path (10:08)
4. Det Iskalde Mørket (17:55)
5. Summoning the Horns (9:38)

Reviewed by on June 11, 2009

"What the band lacks in originality they do make up for in their grim and cold style however, as this is the sort of release that would have riled up the metal masses back in the ‘90s and gotten people to don their spiked armor and corpse paint."

Imagine that, it’s an old school black metal band from Norway that got signed to Candlelight Records. The duo of Grimnisse and Vardalv that make up Throne of Katarsis don’t do anything at all to revolutionize the black metal sound or even put any sort of new twist on the old genre. What the band lacks in originality they do make up for in their grim and cold style, however, as this is the sort of release that would have riled up the metal masses back in the ‘90s and gotten people to don their spiked armor and corpse paint.

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the early Norwegian black metal bands has heard basically every guitar riff, blast beat, and rasping growl that Throne of Katarsis has to offer. The main difference between “Helvete - Det Iskalde Mørket” and any other album in the same style is the length of the songs. While the standard extreme black metal track can expect to tap out around five or six minutes, Throne of Katarsis has decided that if a little black metal is good, then a lot of black metal must be great. There are only five tracks on the album, but it clocks in at just under an hour in length. The title track alone goes a whopping seventeen minutes, which is a run time that many other bands aren’t confident enough in their own skills to actually attempt to implement.

Incredibly long songs are a dicey proposition, as they can leave the audience wishing for a change of pace. It’s never a good thing when the listener is wondering if it’s a better idea to see it through or skip to the next track. Generally anything outside the realms of prog, drone, or really exceptionally well played melodic death metal is going to start feeling old after eight or nine minutes. “Helvete - Det Iskalde Mørket” does suffer from the problem to an extent, especially on the massively long title song, but it may be less of an issue for real black metal fanatics. Those loyal fans who just want to listen to Darkthrone or Burzum all the night long may not find the track lengths to be problematic at all.

There are a few moments that break up the repetition and make the tracks easier to digest. Every now and again the distorted guitars will slow down or stop altogether to let a more ethereal feel take over the music. The short atmospheric breaks make the preceding and following black metal assaults more potent because of the strong contrast. The vocals also have an eerie echoing effect applied that makes it seem like the growls are coming from a darkened corridor off in the distance, just out of eyesight.

The sound of “Helvete - Det Iskalde Mørket” touches to the heart of why the black metal scene first attracted metal fans. It has that cold atmosphere, blasphemous tone, and extreme nature that draws certain individuals like moths to the flame. Anyone who gets chills up their spine at the thought of listening to old school black metal in the dead of night in a candlelit room is the sort of person that this album was specifically made for. While it doesn’t make any attempts at innovation at all, it’s still played well enough to draw in the black metal crowd for a journey through the style’s beginnings, even if the songs do drag on much longer than necessary.

Highs: Old school black metal played exceptionally well

Lows: Absolutely no attempts at innovation, the songs could have easily been cut in half

Bottom line: Old school black metal with no innovation of any kind, but its played well enough that black metal fanatics should love it anyway.

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)