Thursday, January 26, 2012

Get Into: Hecate Enthroned



It's been a while since I've done a proper "Get Into," and even longer since I've done one on an old black metal band! Time to get back to what I love.

You've probably heard of Hecate Enthroned, and probably know them as either Cradle of Filth wannabes or just some generic English black metal band. I can't speak to their later material, but lately I've been really enjoying their early shit. Their wordily-titled debut album, The Slaughter of Innocence, A Requiem for The Mighty, is a really enjoyable exercise in the lofty, sweeping, keyboard-embellished black metal of the ancient brood. Yes, Hecate Enthroned owes something to Cradle of Filth, particularly the vocalist's hair-raising shriek (which thankfully lacks the "angry duck" quality of Dani's early stuff), but they seem to have paid just as much attention to the Norwegian forefathers, especially Emperor.

My favorite track by far is album-opener "Beneath A December Twilight." Hecate Enthroned introduce themselves with a brooding disharmonic groove strongly reminiscent of "Wrath of The Tyrant" (in a good way), but just before the 2:00 mark they completely turn around and hit the fucking gas. The drummer drops a charging Slayer beat as the guitarists open up into an exultant harmonized melody that takes a full 8 measures to run its course. This sort of thing pretty much sets the tone for the album, and captures two of Hecate Enthroned's greatest strengths. First, they tend to write thrilling breaks and transitions, keeping the album interesting all the way through even when the guitars get a little same-y towards the middle. Second, they value pure ripping forward momentum, something that was lost in a haze of blastbeats as black metal became a formula. The other brilliant moment in this track, by the way, is 5:35. Just when you think you've heard it all, a crushing, much darker riff brings the song to a whole new level, setting up one of the most dramatic conclusions I've heard in a long time.



But it's the final full track, "The Danse Macabre," that hints at an even cooler Hecate Enthroned sound. Here their melodic sensibility is warped into something far nastier, and you can tell it's drawn from earlier writing sessions. I was curious to find out where the fuck this came from, and checked out their Promethean Shores (Unscriptured Waters) EP. Turns out I may like this even better than the full-length that followed it. This is some sick, primal shit--Second Wave black metal before it stopped drawing strength from the poison wells of death metal. Here, Hecate Enthroned still favor heavy guitars and power chords. They infuse their riffage with darker harmonic ideas, so that some proper dissonance creeps in around the edges, and they play fast sections that rip even harder than those on The Slaughter... The keyboards often provide an interesting extra dimension, instead of simply reinforcing guitar ideas or adding flamboyant embellishments. Every track is killer. I chose the sprawling "A Graven Winter" because it's fucking brutal. But you also have to hear the introduction to "An Ode For A Haunted Wood." So I stuck that at the end here.

9 comments:

  1. This is very impressive. I'm always looking for quality symphonic black metal but usually end up just going straight back to In The Nightside Eclipse. In my opinion, one of the only albums that truly measures up to ITNE is Allegiance of Darkness by Satanic Corpse. It is truly astounding that music of this caliber is so under appreciated. It would be great to see a review from TBO because Allegiance of Darkness is probably the single most underrated black metal album in existence at this time. And yes, I have done my research so that statement is not hyperbole by any means.

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    1. Glad you dig H.E., and thanks for the recommendation! I'm always looking for new bands in this vein, so yes--I'll check out Satanic Corpse and probably do a review or feature here.

      As far as alternatives to "Nightside," have you listened to the Emperor recordings from just before that album? I greatly prefer them--heavier and truly vicious. Also check out Kvist if you haven't already, one of my favorite bands.

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  2. Kvist is definitely above average but for some reason they've never sucked me in. I will have to look into them again. As for early Emperor, I've never looked into it either since there are only a few unique tracks and their other other albums have been disappointing. But since everything on ITNE is so amazing (bar the vocals) I should remedy this. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Anyways, here is the only active download link I could find for Allegiance of Darkness, although I have to say that I know Belita, the sole artist, is really poor so if you like it (and you will), consider sending her a donation if possible. This is a better way to listen than youtube because the sound quality of those recordings is terrible.
    http://www.mediafire.com/?k0bkttqsd7pzq62
    I probably sound like a street team but it is just about impossible to overstate the importance of AOD. I think part of the problem with the lack of recognition is that Belita does very little in the way of promotion, preferring to instead focus on creating music. It's really a shame this is so under appreciated because it seriously blows all the Dimmu clones out of the water.

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    1. Yeah, try the Emperor EP or, better yet, the Hordanes Land split with Enslaved (push comes to shove, my personal favorite BM album). I believe all those tracks appear on ITNE, but in fancier recordings/arrangements.

      I checked out the Satanic Corpse, strange stuff. I can hear that she writes some cool neoclassical riffs on guitar, but the arrangements are kinda scattered--sometimes simultaneous parts don't even seem to line up with one another--and I think the production actually hurts it a lot. Also not a huge fan of the keyboard effects and patterns she's using.

      Nevertheless, I respect her for persevering in the deep underground and keeping it weird at a time when BM is almost the new "alternative rock."

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    2. Now I went and looked up Satanic Corpse. I'm not sure if neoclassical is exactly what I'm hearing. But I'm definitely hearing something interesting on this song-
      "Ave Death": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky2RZDfrXaY

      The melody being played on the lead guitar, backed up by the whispers and keyboard patterns has some serious melody going for it. This is probably just me, but... I'm totally getting this bouncy '80s pop feel from it. It really kicks in at the 1:15 mark. Its like a Bangles song buried under pile of rotting rats and then played through a tiny, cheap porta amp. So much black metal, even with all the distortion and aggression, is really about melody. She definitely gets that, at least on this song.

      It appears that Ms. Adair was a test subject in Project MKUltra, the C.I.A.'s illegal mind-control experiments (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MKULTRA). She is also the founder of the Satanic Church of the Dead (http://www.satanicchurchofthedead.com/scotd.html). Obviously, she is not fucking around.

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    3. Whoa, this is totally different from the more symphonic album Venus linked me to. I do get a girl group feeling from that "waaaah" melody, and the chunky, anthemic guitars kinda remind me of Bush or Weezer. But it's all totally fucked and rotten, and with this punkier, more basic songwriting the sense that parts aren't lining up actually works in its favor. I am digging this... exactly the kind of gonzo weirdness I look for in an "outsider BM" project. Definitely unique, and will probably get its own TBO post.

      Thanks Venus and Ido.

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    4. also if you really want you can see adair pounding herself with a dildo. dear god.

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    5. Well, its nice that she keeps herself so busy with various interests, I guess.

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  3. A review would be much appreciated, especially since there aren't too many of them out there and Belita is extremely talented. As for Allegiance..., I would agree that it would benefit from better production. But my impression of the overall organization was that the emotional quality of the vocals and piano were complemented quite effectively by everything else that was going on. In contrast to the half-formed "atmospheric" tendencies of hipster aesthetics, there is a very all encompassing sense to it. I can never listen to just a few tracks and then set it aside, unlike most newer black metal.

    Also, I forgot to mention that the Hordanes Land half of the Enslaved/Emperor split is definitely in my top 5 most listened to black metal recordings, in combination with ITNE and Satanic Corpse's AOD. solid recommendation! Looking forward to the review...

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