Skip to content

After the rise and fall of Sepultura and before the advent of populist metal trio Nervosa there was Krisiun. Since 1990 the Kolesne brothers have been proudly flying the flag for Brazilian death metal. Often imitated, domestic and abroad, but never surpassed, their four-album jaunt up until 2001's "Ageless Venomous" was pretty much flawless. "Works Of Carnage" was a stylistic experiment that toyed with shorter, bouncier cuts and big choruses. On 2006’s “AssassiNation” things really took a turn for the worse. Those vainly hoping for a creative renaissance had their hopes squashed with “Forged In Fury”. That record was a bloated, over-long, directionless platter signaling that the brothers three had finally hit rockbottom. “Scourge Of the Enthroned” is their latest and if Dying Fetus, Morbid Angel and Monstrosity can produce decent records in their old age, so can they.

After a quarter of a century and 10 albums there’s bound to be some fatigue to the way a band writes. Krisiun hasn’t been handling anti-Christian rhetoric exclusively since “AssassiNation”. “Southern Storm” and “The Great Execution” were records that dealt with historical and mythological concepts of beasts and war almost entirely. Krisiun has been writing loose concept albums for more than a decade now and with “Scourge Of the Enthroned” the brothers continue that trend. Instead of their usual themes “Scourge Of the Enthroned” is based on Sumerian mythology. Every formula eventually proves fatal and in Krisiun’s instance that happened with “Forged In Fury”. It was probably their most critically savaged recording in the 12 years that they’ve been releasing mere variations of “AssassiNation”. “Scourge Of the Enthroned” is not the much pined after creative renaissance for the Brazilian brothers, but at least it’s marginally more inspired than the insipid and meandering song sets they’ve been releasing over the last 15 years. It is folly to expect them to write another “Black Force Domain” or “Apocalyptic Revelation” but if the riffing is anything to go by “Scourge Of the Enthroned” is a step in the right direction again. Is this the next great Krisiun record? Hardly, but does it ever try.

At least Krisiun heeded the criticism leveled at some of their more recent works and opted for more manageable song lengths. Krisiun are at their best when they stay within the four-minute range and don’t loose themselves in boundless repetition. “Scourge Of the Enthroned” sheds most, if not all, of the trio’s typical extraneous diversions. It’s refreshingly straightforward and doesn’t bother with any of the usual pointless instrumentals that have been littering their albums since “Works Of Carnage”. A good Krisiun record clocks in around the 40-minute mark and this album’s 38 minutes is far closer to “Apocalyptic Revelation” than it is to “Southern Storm”. The songwriting too seems to have improved, although not in any drastic or dramatic sense. The cuts are mercifully more to-the-point and some of the riffing leans closer to “Conquerors Of Armageddon” than it does to “Works Of Carnage” which is always a plus. Max Kolesne’s blasts these days are more concentrated around selective portions of songs instead of being their entire raison d'être. Just like everybody else age is inevitably catching up to Krisiun and they don’t play as rabid and frenetic as they once did. In a more general sense “Scourge Of the Enthroned” is one of the trio’s better offerings, but the days of “Apocalyptic Revelation” and “Ageless Venomous” are well and truly behind us now.

Krisiun has always been about precision. Alex, Moyses and Max are world-class instrumentalists cursed with a fairly regressive concept of songwriting. “Works Of Carnage” was entertaining just because it was an experiment. “AssassiNation” had more of a groove metal inclination but it worked well enough within that context. They were mere creative outliers in a repertoire of largely linear and percussive songwriting that drew equally from Morbid Angel as it did from early Sepultura and Slayer. What people seem to selectively forget is that there indeed was a Krisiun in those long forgotten, halcyon days prior to 2003. That exactly those outliers have since become the apparent norm and the accepted standard to which all new Krisiun output is measured is scary enough of a prospect all by itself. “Scourge Of the Enthroned” brings back at least a fraction of the old riffing schemes and cuts down on the repetition and groove-fixated songwriting choices that have been bogging down the Krisiun assault for over a decade. Alex Camargo is still the weakest link and his barks have been getting less guttural for a while now. Krisiun is, much like Obituary, a band that has embraced its regressive tendencies as if they were virtues. The brothers three have been growing complacent and if “Forged In Fury” conclusively proved anything it was that. Krisiun has been stagnating for quite a number of years now and "Scourge Of the Enthroned" might as well be the first sign of life in a long time. Not that it's bound to become a new classic or even mandatory within the larger Krisiun canon. It's solid and unadventurous.

So where does that place “Scourge Of the Enthroned” in the now extensive Krisiun discography? It’s better than their last couple of records but it’s still no match for their classic first four albums. The angular, linear songwriting of yore has been replaced with more melodic by-the-numbers songwriting that reeks of cold professionalism and years of experience, as much as process. Perhaps Krisiun is not quite as guilty of the latter as some of their contemporaries, but they haven't sounded inspired and inspiring for over a decade. “Scourge Of the Enthroned” might not be the grand return of a band that has been falling to the wayside for quite some time now, but it offers enough reasons to remain cautiously optimistic. We might not demand (or expect) another “Ageless Venomous” from these three brothers but “Scourge Of the Enthroned” offers at least a smidgen of hope of them still being able to concoct a reasonable facsimile thereof. At least it's better than "Forged In Fury" and that should count for something these days...

Of all the fallen members from the short-lived “Stop At Nothing” line-up sometime Dying Fetus drummer, Midnight Video employee and former Wicked Woods Haunted Forest House operator Erik Sayenga has done the best for himself. Since his ousting from the Fetus in 2005 Sayenga has kept releasing music with Warthrone, his Virginia symfo death/black metal project that sees him handling rhythm guitars, drums, and vocals alongside his wife Kristel Dawn who provides keyboards and bass guitar. “Crown Of the Apocalypse” is only Warthrone’s second full length effort and the first to feature Sayenga in the position of frontman as Richard Johnson bade his farewell prior to the studio sessions. Compared vis-a-vis to “Venomassacre” from 2014 “Crown Of the Apocalypse” is superior on all fronts. Hell, even the artwork is decent this time around. This is the record that Dark Funeral’s “Where Shadows Forever Reign” should have been…

Which is more than you can say from the remainder of the “Stop At Nothing” line-up. Mike Kimball helped co-write “War Of Attrition” (the only real black page in the Fetus’ storied history) and the less said about Vince Matthews’ various projects the better. No, Sayenga has done good for himself all things considered. Kristel’s association comes from Virginia-based death/black metal combo Witch-Hunt (which Warthrone is a spiritual continuation of) that released their sole album “Soul Enshrouded Fire” in 2000. It came brandishing unintentionally hilarious gothic horror cover art that it makes you wonder why it was never distributed internationally by Napalm Records, who were infamous at the time for their so-called Breast Brigade artworks from designer Tor Søreide and photographer Petter Hegre. We were on the fence about Warthrone when we initially were introduced to them with “Venomassacre” and pretty much completely forgot about them until “Crown Of the Apocalypse” turned up in our social media feed. The few years between releases have worked wonders for Warthrone, it seems. They have heeded the critics and honed their assault accordingly.

Warthrone might not be the most novel thing around, but at least it knows what it wants to be and how to get there. Instead of the symfo black metal atmosphere they no doubt were aiming for “Crown Of the Apocalypse” exudes clinical modern death metal vibes, mostly of the Myrkskog kind. There’s just something about Warthrone that screams “Superior Massacre” or records of similar predilection. There’s a lot of things you can say about a band like Warthrone, but the long and short of it is that the whole black metal aspect is fairly negligible all things considered. Before anything else “Crown Of the Apocalypse” is death metal, plain and simple. And with Sayenga’s resumé, did anyone truly expect anything else? Erik and Kristel sound positively devastating on their sophomore. Kristel’s keyboards felt unnecessary to say the least and somewhat amateurishly pasted over the music on “Venomassacre”. Here they are integral to the compositions without ever becoming a dominant force or portentously overbearing.

Sayenga and his wife always had a penchant for Halloween and dressing up. In the promotional pictures accompanying the release Sayenga and his wife can be seen sporting post-apocalyptic/medieval garb that looks as if it came straight out of a budget-starved 1980s Filipino (Cirio H. Santiago would be proud) or Italian post-nuke movie. Not that you’d expect anything else from the former proprietor of Wicked Woods Haunted Forest House. Horror houses - especially in deep religiously diseased and red Southern states where they serve to keep the gullible, the uneducated, and the superstitious subservient and thus the larger Chrisian constituency in line – after all are big business in America. The epilepsy-inducing music video for ‘The Blood Of the Prophets’ is an atrocity of epic proportions and makes Immortal’s ‘Call Of the Wintermoon’, Hecate Enthroned’s ‘An Ode for a Haunted Wood’, and Unholy Ghost’s ‘Under Existence’ look as paragons of unbound professionalism and restraint in comparison. They’re clearly very devoted to their specific artistic vision. That has to count for something too.

The merits of a death metal record are judged by the quality of its production values and Warthrone has improved in leaps and bounds on that front since their first outing. “Venomassacre”, while a decent enough record, was marred by the typical defects of a home-recorded affair. “Crown Of the Apocalypse” is also home-recorded but sounds notably more professional in the way it was recorded and mixed. It would behoof any band, irrespective of the genre they play, to record in a professional studio environment but that increasingly appears to be a dying practice in underground metal. It makes you wonder what Warthrone could sound like if they ever decided to record at Nightsky Studios in Waldorf, Maryland instead of the comfort of their home. The artwork by Santiago Francisco Jaramillo for Triple Seis Design is something you’d expect from a Marcelo Vasco, Daniel Valeriani, or Gyula Havancsák. It looks like something you’d expect to see on a Horncrowned album, or bands of similar persuasion. Also partaking on the record are renowned British singer Sarah Jezebel Deva, Egyptian-American artist Nader Sadek, and Kim Dylla, of Kylla Custom Rock Wear, who for a short time performed as Vulvatron in GWAR.

Any way you slice it, “Crown Of the Apocalypse” is a vast improvement over their debut. We’re far more interested in high-quality playthrough videos or dedicated drum cam recordings from Erik’s home studio. There’s always additional streams of revenue to be mined if they know where to look. If Warthrone does insist on making more music videos it’s perhaps advisable for them to gather the necessary funds and hire somebody like David Brodsky, Kevin Custer, Rick Carmona, Darren Doane, or Chris João. Music videos, at least in terms of underground metal and niche music markets, are something of a dying breed ever since streaming services have made DVDs and televised music programs increasingly, if not entirely, redundant. No. “Crown Of the Apocalypse” shows that there’s tons of potential that is yet untapped. If Warthrone manage to cultivate that potential by the time the next album rolls around and accompany it with a professional music video or two they might just make a big enough splash and break themselves to a larger audience. It never hurts to have a goal…