Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: Throndt - Throndt

Throndt's sole full-length album is a wonderful one for some very odd reasons. It's not as though it's a particularly unique piece of music: the style contained is about as traditional and monochromatic as its art. I mean, it's not as though the members were unaware that a book is often judged by its cover. It's clear that they weren't particularly concerned by the possibility.

Throndt plays a fairly folky, distinctly Germanic variety of black metal. The folk influence is purely in the melodic sense of the music- there's no goofy-ass Korpiklaani bullshit to be found anywhere. Throndt is more in the vein of Bak De Syv Fjell, though decidedly more nondescript in their delivery. Sculpted heavily from early Darkthrone, early Burzum, and other stalwarts of the Norwegian scene, Throndt still never gets quite as grim and misanthropic as those bands since their sound is so heavily tempered by the omnipresent folk influences- just as the music seems to be getting too churning and dissonant for its own good, a folk melody will blast out of the guitars and the motion of the song will be kept.

What makes this such a remarkable release are those folk elements and what they do to the music. Though Throndt has all the trappings of traditional black metal- thin production, an emphasis on blasts and tremolo riffs, and a goblinlike vocal performance- they're executed in a distinctly different way. The folk influences on this record aren't the meandering, pensive passages of other bands, but tremendous bursts of enthusiasm, tempered just enough to make them congruous with the sound as a whole. Some of the riffs on this release are positively joyful- the melodic sense of this album reflects a youthful enthusiasm and energy. Throndt plays around with darker, more brooding riffs before playfully jumping to something more major key and celebratory. Throndt's music has a tendency to flitter: from major to minor key, from mechanical blast to popping, energetic thrash beat, and from the sinister to the enthusiastic with no concern as to whether any individual element sounds 'appropriate' for black metal.

Even the brief acoustic tracks which dot the record are of a similar nature; these interludes can be pensive and introspective (like much folk-influenced black metal), but just as often they're celebratory and, dare I say it, fun. The youthfulness and joy of this album is its most distinct element, and in general it conveys a childlike playfulness. Listening to this album makes me think of the time I spent as a kid in my town's little forests with my friends, making up stories, having swordfights with sticks, and imagining that every day was a huge adventure and the next would be even better. Is it the darkest black metal release I've ever heard? Certainly not, but it's totally genuine and massively in tune with the real nature of the genre in a way that most albums sorely lack.

I think this is what black metal was always meant to be: energetic, celebratory, and full of wonder and fear. Throndt makes zero effort to be true and as a result ends up truer than nearly any band that grasps towards such an idea. Forget Liturgy and whatever other ideologically-motivated crap is circling the metal scene these days: if you want to hear legitimately transcendental black metal, Throndt is one of the few out there who ever made it.

Buy this album on Amazon

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