Throne of Heresy
(The Sign Records)
What’s more metal, or shall we say, black metal than the Salem Witch Trials or the Spanish Inquisition? How about the infamous “Black Plague” that swept through Europe beginning in the mid 1300’s, lasting through the mid 1700’s. Time check modern day. The mighty Throne of Heresy unleash Decameron, a concept album that interweaves ten stories that speak of the horrors of the Black Death and the accursed victims who fought against it, refusing to die, but doomed nevertheless. Featuring guest vocals by Karl Beckman (King of Asgard / ex-Mithotyn), “Decameron” is an exploration into what can only be described as one of the darkest chapters of human history.
The original book, The Decameron, was written by plague survivor Giovanni Boccaccio who lived in Florence Italy and saw firsthand the path of death and destruction caused by the epidemic. The Decameron contained 100 tales told through the point of a view of ten people sequestered in a villa outside Florence trying to escape the horrors of the disease. Time was the only thing that stood between them and the Black Death.
Frontman Thomas Clifford’s vocals couldn’t be more on point to deliver the required emotional impact that songs telling the story of Decameron demand. His style embodies all that is harsh, bleak and tortured, the very attributes of the plague itself and the suffering it wrought accordingly. It’s obvious, song after song, that the band is committed to this record, never missing a beat, building a tense, heavy atmosphere through beautifully, and well-crafted soundscapes of blackened death metal that nails the mood and imagery of this record spot on.
Track three, “The Siege of Caffa,” and track six “Liber Secretorum” are so heavy, and full of so much ominous doom, you’ll swear the sky might turn black above you and rain down poisoned blood upon all the Earth if played at too high a volume. The tone and the feeling of Decameron is tense and anxious, how the survivors of that time must have felt; the music is pummeling, without mercy, and some of the heaviest metal 2017 has seen to date. The standout song on this record, not surprising, is the title track itself. It’s the incarnation of all that is fear and apprehension set to music, so perfectly honed you just have to marvel at the level of perfection this record ultimately achieves. The vocals soar to the heavens, dripping with angst and the realization that all is truly lost, morphing back into deathly growls and tortured heaviness that is the foundation for everything on this brilliant record.
Cookie cutter this is not. Speed for the sake of speed, blast beats for the sake of adhering to formula, is non-existent. Every song is intricately structured in a specific way that serves the song itself, creating instant atmosphere allowing the song to tell the story the way IT chooses to. Decameron is a monument to destructively heavy, blackened death and metal in every shape and form. Buy this record immediately. It needs to wind up on every fan and critic’s top ten list at end of year, for sure.