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Hecate Enthroned - "Upon Promeathean Shores (Unscriptured Waters)" (CD/EP)

Hecate Enthroned - "Upon Promeathean Shores (Unscriptured Waters)" CD/EP cover image

"Upon Promeathean Shores (Unscriptured Waters)" track listing:

1. Promeathea - Thy Darkest Mask Of Surreality (2:15)
2. The Crimson Thorns (My Immortal Dreams) (4:26)
3. A Graven Winter (7:30)
4. To Feed Upon Thy Dreams (6:44)
5. An Ode For A Haunted Wood (7:15)
6. Through Spell-binding Branches (Deepest Witchcraft) (2:08)

Reviewed by on July 1, 2008

"'Upon Promethean Shores,' the band's first official release, channels the most raw and unfiltered core sound of Hecate Enthroned."

Originally conceived by vocalist Jon Pritchard with the name Daemonum, the band that would come to be known as Hecate Enthroned would go through many major changes in the pursuit of perfecting the sound of gothic black metal. Line-up changes galore, unrest between band mates, and the firing of the original founding member would mar the history of Hecate Enthroned, all of which led to a conversion of style that effectively shifted the band from goth-laced black metal to a more straight-forward death metal orientation. "Upon Promethean Shores," the band’s first official release, channels the most raw and unfiltered core sound of Hecate Enthroned. This release began as a demo recording titled "An Ode For a Haunted Wood," which drew the gaze of the label Blackened Records, who inked a record deal with Hecate Enthroned and decided to re-master the original demo and sell it as their first official album, but bearing a new title.

"Upon Promethean Shores" is officially slated as an EP, but with six tracks that cumulatively clock in at just over thirty minutes, it leans more heavily towards a full length album. There is a gothic atmosphere present, suggestive of ancient rituals to dark and forgotten deities on a cold winter’s night, but without the flippant gothic posturing found in other acts in the genre such as fellow UK band Cradle of Filth. There will be no erotic tales of vampires or silly play on words like "Phallustein" found anywhere on this disc. Hecate Enthroned doesn't just flirt with their satanic and occult themes. They keep a hard and sinisterly dark edge from the opening seconds to the closing credits. Jon regularly utilizes shadowy whispers layered atop both softer keyboard segments and heavy guitar parts with black metal growls. Where this might be a cheap gimmick elsewhere, the combination of dread-inducing buzzing guitar work, brooding keyboards, and the quality in the vocalists' voice that lets everyone know his black heart is very much devoted to what he's singing about easily changes a potentially cheesy performance into a wickedly enjoyable ritual of pure evil. When he drops the malevolent whispering, Jon screams out a rasping, high pitched shriek that is simply too primal and guttural to be deciphered without searching for the lyrics. The intensity of the vocal work clearly bespeaks how much pure emotion is being fed into this album, and that emotion keeps songs that top seven minutes in length from ever nearing anything resembling boredom. For variation there are also a few low, distorted death style growls interspersed between the whispers and the screams.

The keyboard is an integral part to the sound, setting the stage for the guitars and vocals to create an environment of pure venomous woe, rather than just being aggressively loud. With the exception of the opening introduction and closing track, the keyboards stay firmly planted in the background to stress the importance of the other instruments and act as a mood enhancer. The keyboards never take on enough prominence to cross the line into symphonic metal, but instead prefer to stay behind the scenes and avoid the flashy excesses of the other sounds.

As would be expected of a re-mastered first time demo, the production of "Upon Promethean Shores" is far from the slick, high quality work found with big name metal bands. While not quite qualifying for the impenetrable “wall of static” effect found on early Emperor and Mayhem releases that demanded meticulous attention to detail over a long period of time to even be able to make out the differences between the instruments, "Upon Promethean Shores" is still raw enough to please the black metal purists who require necro production as well as the more casual fans who want something that can be appreciated the first time around. The album was re-released several years after its original distribution with two additional bonus tracks called "The Dance Macabre" and "Luciferian Death Code," both of which had an even rougher sound that will be more pleasing to “kvlt” enthusiasts.

Highs: Intense vocals and a gothic mood that never gets cheesy

Lows: Lower end production and a somewhat short play time

Bottom line: Awesome gothic black metal for people who crave a more dark and serious Cradle of Filth

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)