Dethroned Emperor are fucking sick. Their tape EP, War Grind Hell, basically does what it says on the tin: The main influences here are war metal in the vein of Blasphemy, primitive grind in the vein of Napalm Death, and hell in the vein of, well, Hellhammer. The cool thing is, D.E. have subordinated these three riffing styles to their own songwriting approach and overall sound.
The songs are utterly chaotic, but not in the sense of spazzy tech-grind or amorphously ugly war-metal (those are kinds of chaos I can't stand!). Instead, D.E. throw an impressive array of riffs into each song, repeating each just enough to let you mosh for a second and then throwing another one at you. The new riff is rarely what you expect, but it's never a musical non sequitur. Rather than building power through repetition, D.E. use these wrenching transitions to work up a steadily accumulating quantity of violent gonzo vibes. In that sense, I think these guys have a fair amount in common with the freakout sounds of noisegrind bands like early Lightning Bolt. Imagine if instead of channeling all that energy into perky drug anthems, Lightning Bolt wanted to raze this corrupt world to the ground. Fucking cool right? And still a lot of fun.
The riffs are cool, but not necessarily in the way metalheads expect. For one thing, they're not memorable. Partially this is a matter of timing--you just don't hear them for long enough--but it's also because most of these riffs aren't really ends in themselves. The power comes from the grinding effect that the riffs achieve together. Nevertheless, there are a number of really cool moments that I listen for, and others by which I am always pleasantly surprised.
For another thing, the riffs aren't always audible, strictly speaking. As with Blasphemy, Conqueror, and the boys, the blasting parts usually become pure undifferentiated cacaphony. But D.E.'s sound is so gnarly that this sometimes happens to their other riffs too! They're indistinct in their tonality, impossible to pin down. But while these riffs lack the melodic quality we usually associate with riffs, they do riffy things. The fast riffs grind. The slower riffs thrash or compress. It reminds me of what Enmity are doing on Illuminations of Vile Engorgement--getting the riffy heaviness without the riff. I think it's really cool. I'll definitely be posting about more bands doing this kind of half-noise stuff.
Oh, and it's great fun to follow along in the lyrics, which filter the apocalyptic obsessions of D.E.'s influences through a totally concrete, everyday disgust with the world. These dudes are fucking pissed like 80s hardcore was pissed. My favorite lyrics are undoubtedly the straightforward diatribe of "No Human Left Behind," which reads a bit like a Discharge song if Discharge wanted to do everything they sang about instead of protesting it. It includes this gem of spite: "LOVE supports parasites." Awesome.
Anyway, this is a great start for Dethroned Emperor, and it opens up a lot of possible directions for developing their sound. I think it'd be awesome to hear some tracks with more overtly memorable riffs on the next release, but that's not what they were going for this time and that's more than cool with me. War Grind Hell is the shit and you should try and snag a copy. We will definitely be keeping you posted about these guys. Here's their website. They also have a bandcamp that you can find on google yourself, damnit.