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Jucifer - "Throned In Blood" (CD)

Jucifer - "Throned In Blood" CD cover image

"Throned In Blood" track listing:

1. Throned In Blood (4:24)
2. Contempt (3:25)
3. Work Will Make Us Free (3:40)
4. Disciples Of An Expanding Sun (2:59)
5. Return Of The Native (3:13)
6. Hiroshima (4:20)
7. Rifles (3:46)
8. Good Provider (:59)
9. Spoils To The Conqueror (7:23)
10. Armageddon (2:41)

Reviewed by on March 19, 2010

"'Throned In Blood' is tightly composed, focused as hell, and carries everything that makes Jucifer one of the best bands you've never heard of."

A live Jucifer show has an intensity unlike anything else in music today. With amps stacked to the sky, Gazelle Amber Valentine and Edgar Livengood create blissful noise using only throat-ripping screams, a guitar and a drum kit. It’s loud and unsettling, the type of music that will leave many scratching their heads at its supposed artistic value. The thing is, even in its most primal moments, there is a certain charm to Jucifer’s sound that leaves a listener awe-struck at its sheer power.

Throughout the years, the band’s studio albums have been a far cry from the chaos emitted in a live setting. The raw aggression was kept mostly in check, replaced by lush melodies and tender female vocals. 2008’s “L'autrichienne” was a sprawling concept album that had some of the band’s best songs to date; however, at 70 minutes long, the album lost focus near the end and puttered to a mediocre conclusion. That is far from the case with “Throned In Blood.” On Jucifer’s seventh studio album, the band accurately recreates their adrenaline-soaked live show in a studio environment.

“Throned In Blood” has a low-fi grittiness that lacks the upbeat tempos of previous albums. This is a dark, brooding affair, void of complex, intricate compositions. While “L'autrichienne” utilized everything from pianos to horn sections, the duo uses just their primary instruments on “Throned In Blood.” Valentine’s riffs are simple and as jagged as chainsaw blades, while Livengood continuously pounds away on his kit like he is on the run from the Grim Reaper himself.

The concept of the album revolves around the horrors and atrocities of war. No more is this better described than in the title track. A pissed-off Valentine screeches in a maniacal tone, as the band shifts from an unsteady doom position to a thrashy slaughter of the senses at a moment’s notice. The rest of the album follows suit, as the songs get more visceral and the brutality is taken up a few pegs. “Contempt” and “Hiroshima” are absolute monsters, lurching forward hell bent on punishing the meek and timid.

All this talk of scary riffs and blood-curdling yells might scare off those accustomed to the lighter side of Jucifer, but the catchy melodies are never too far off. “Disciples Of An Expanding Sun” is a punishing descent into madness, drawn together by Valentine’s haunting clean vocals. Closer “Armageddon” is a folksy acoustic number with a bleak atmosphere that hides a somewhat hopeful message with its last line; “My love will still kindle our flame.”

The band has had its share of epic songs in the past, the last one being “The Mountain” from “L'autrichienne.” None of them can match the emotional build-up that “Spoils To The Conqueror” provides. The song evolves through several passages, as the early molasses pace picks up, going from a sludge-crusted groove to a beautiful clean vocal section that ranks as one of the top moments in the band’s career. The song rivals “She Tides The Deep” as the band’s magnum opus.

With their own record label, Nomadic Fortress, Jucifer is free to finally release an album that is a true representation of who they are. “Throned In Blood” is tightly composed, focused as hell, and carries everything that makes Jucifer one of the best bands you've never heard of. Those who only know the band from their past studio albums will be in for quite a shock, as this album doesn’t have the broad appeal of songs like “Pontius of Palia” and “To Earth.” This is far from a hindrance though, as the album is gripping from start to finish. “Throned In Blood” is the first album that captures the pure essence of what makes Jucifer special and is an easy contender for album of the year.

Highs: First studio album that truly replicates Jucifer's live show, raw and unnerving sound, aggressive blend of doom, sludge and grind.

Lows: May turn off those who only know the band from their melodic side.

Bottom line: A phenomenal concept album that uses its raw doom/sludge sound to accurately depict the horrors of war.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)