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Enthroned - "Pentagrammaton" (CD)

Enthroned - "Pentagrammaton" CD cover image

"Pentagrammaton" track listing:

1. In Missi Solemnibvs (2:07)
2. The Vitalized Shell (4:01)
3. Rion Riorrim (3:04)
4. Ornament of Grace (4:56)
5. Magnvs Princeps Leopardi (3:27)
6. Pentagrammaton (6:15)
7. Nehas't (2:49)
8. The Essential Chaos (3:04)
9. Ad Te Clamamvs Exsvles Morvua Liberi (1:29)
10. Unconscious Minds (8:42)
11. Behemiron (2:03)

Reviewed by on March 28, 2010

"After eight albums, the band still has what it takes to scare off even the most devoted minions of Satan."

In the eyes of many, Enthroned has never been considered one of the front-runners of black metal. Even though they have made their unblessed presence felt since the early 90s, not much recognition is given to the consistent catalog of material they have acquired. Enthroned has been plagued for years by continuous line-up shifts, but every time somebody left, the band dusted itself off and got back on the dark horse.

The departure of original vocalist Lord Sabathan in 2006 would have rattled most bands, but Enthroned shrugged it off and moved guitarist Nornagest to the vocalist spot. 2007’s “Tetra Karcist” had the fire and intensity of previous albums, but felt a bit stale and lacking without Sabathan around. Enthroned’s latest album, “Pentagrammaton,” gets the band on the right track with one of their strongest line-ups to date and a robust sound that handles the static riffs and pummeling blast beats as well as the monstrous epics.

There is no direct concept behind “Pentagrammaton,” but the album flows so well from one track to the next that it almost feels like a singular entity. The interludes are back in full force to reinforce this idea, though they are mainly stuck to the beginning and end of the album. They don’t distract as much than on previous albums, though intro “In Missi Solemnibvs” could have been cut in half. Each song seems to build off the other, with the faster tracks being sandwiched together and the longer tracks providing a buffer between them.

When Enthroned gets on a roll, they never let up, particularly with the one-two knockout punch of “Nehas't” and “The Essential Chaos.” For six minutes, these two tracks bring intensity to a whole other level. The raspy yells intermix with the trademark black metal tremolo picking and the fluid fills and double bass chaos of new drummer Garghuf. While Cernunnos will always be considered the best Enthroned drummer, Garghuf could give him a run for his money if he can actually stick around for more than one or two albums. His work is easily some of the best instrumental work on an Enthroned album in a long time.

While “Tetra Karcist” was gung-ho from start to finish, “Pentagrammaton” has bold dynamics that show a deeper side to the band that harkens back to the early days of “Towards The Skullthrone of Satan.” The early menacing pace of the title track is matched by its sheer disregard for human hearing later on with its stacked buzzing riffs. “Unconscious Minds” is their longest song since 2001’s “When Hell Freezes Over” and takes the album in a whole new direction with a catchy, almost Iron Maiden-inspired riff progression that is far from the standard black metal formula. The strong lead guitar work comes to the forefront after being tossed aside throughout much of the album, save for the occasional shredding instance.

A crisp production enhances the brutality of “Pentagrammaton,” an album that gets Enthroned back on track after a slight misstep in "Tetra Karcist." After eight albums, the band still has what it takes to scare off even the most devoted minions of Satan. This album probably won’t generate them much of a larger following, but it is tailor-made for black metal fans that live and breathe everything that has to do with the genre.

Highs: Title track and "Unconscious Minds" step outside the black metal box, Garghuf's drumming, more focused than "Tetra Karcist."

Lows: Not a big leap ahead on the songwriting front, the interludes are hit-or-miss.

Bottom line: Enthroned gets back on track with another unholy collection of ripping black metal.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)