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For their fifth album the Belgian “blackened horde” of Enthroned knew that all bets were off. After the debacle that was “Armoured Bestial Hell” the band needed to come back with a bang – and a number of facts played in their advantage. They had signed a new recording contract with Austrian label Napalm Records, they had enrolled a new drummer in Yann Herrera (Alsvid, from French act Seth) and were set to record at Spidersound Studio in Berlin with famed metal producer Harris Johns (Helloween, Immolation, Kreator, Sodom, Tankard). This was the band’s most important album since their debut, and with a stable label partner and a new skinsman Enthroned were poised to finally take their place in the black metal underground. Did they? Yes, in fact. This is the most potent album they have put on the market since “The Apocalypse Manifesto”.

In many ways this is a return-to-form for a band that has always been a second-tier at best. Clearly the addition of Herrera on drums lit a fire under the band as this is their most violent, their most concise and most focused effort since “The Apocalypse Manifesto” and “Towards the Skullthrone Of Satan”. Many things that fell to the wayside on the previous mockery have been duly corrected. All songs are blisteringly fast, blast-oriented cuts with the band’s patented melodies, the worthwhile leads/solos and Lorent’s thundering bass guitar. Lorent’s vocals are as comical and intense as ever, but his performance is far more spirited and violent here. It feels like he is screeching his lungs out. One wonders how he is able to speak after such a hellish performance.

enthronedThe writing style recalls the stronger aspects of the band’s earlier works, namely the unanimously savage “Towards the Skullthrone Of Satan” while the eerie melodies of “The Apocalypse Manifesto” feature more prominently again, which is a plus. Herrera’s drumming is precise, war-like and varied, which is everything this band could ever hope for. In his first of three recording ventures with this band, Yann Herrera is simply the best Enthroned drummer since the studio session drumming of Da Cardoen half a decade prior. Ever so slightly Enthroned’s thrash metal past resurfaces here, but it would not fully come to blossom until the next album. Overall this album takes a hint of Enthroned’s past and runs with it to its logical, modern day conclusion. It’s savage, utterly relentless and an endurance test for all involved, but after the unanimous debacle that was “Armoured Bestial Hell” the only way was up. The band understood its predicament and sought to right itself and return to its past, second-tier glory.

Hinted already on the unmitigated disaster that was their last album, Enthroned here experiments with atmospheric tracks sparingly. ‘Land Of Demonic Fears’ is the most atmospheric thing the band has done since ‘Hertogenwald’ and ‘Evil Church’ on “Towards the Skullthrone Of Satan”. The odd chord progressions, technical riffing and overall more complex song structures of the maligned “Armoured Bestial Hell” make a return, but the songs are better structured and clearly written to the band’s strengths. ‘Diabolic Force’ is a re-recording of an old Morbid Death song, but fits well with the band’s improved and revised sound. Even the addition of choirs doesn’t hurt the picture. For a band as notably conservative and traditional as this, it is a welcome surprise. Not only does the band sound more sophisticated – finally we are getting what they have always promised. It took them five albums, but it is here. Enthroned is at long last living up to whatever little potential they possessed when they formed many years ago. While this is merely a proof-of-concept for the next and much better album “Carnage In Worlds Beyond” is beyond the obvious more ambitious and musical than anything. The band want to prove something to the listener and they succeed with flying colors.

The biggest improvement however is the production work of thrash guru Harris Johns. At once both earthly and organic but also digital and crisp “Carnage In Worlds Beyond” is the best sounding Enthroned record in years. The better song material benefits immensely from this treatment. It is fairly easy to overlook how generic and trite this band actually sounds thanks to the wonderful job behind the console by Johns. Next to the production the whole album exudes professionalism and seriousness. The artwork, design and lay-out are superb, the photography is extremely well done and the record just looks like an actual real product. Slick, glossy and ready to be grabbed off the shelves. Maybe it was the benevolent influence of new contractor Napalm Records?

“Carnage In Words Beyond” is the third and final chapter in a post-apocalypse themed three-album cycle. It deals with the infernal dominion brought on by the “apocalyptic revelations” after the cataclysmic events of “The Manifesto”.  The lyrics are getting increasingly better and more eloquent, which is probably due to the overwhelming creative force that is lead guitarist Régis Lant. Lant had been the creative force behind Enthroned at least for one album prior to this, and the first signs of more philosophical and theological interests start to seep through in the lyrics. There would be one more album in the style present here, before Lant took full control of the band he had been leading behind the scenes for a number of years by then. The sixth Enthroned album would be their ultimate statement and the last to feature long-time frontman Franck Lorent. Now that the band had unlocked its potential, something had to give…