Boasting a fine pedigree (with yet another new line-up) featuring past members of Ondskapt, Diabolical and Desolator, Swedish quartet Valkyrja should be something of a household name to many readers immersed in the Black/Death metal scene. Unleashing their fourth and probably most accomplished album since their inception back in 2004, “Throne Ablaze” compiles a bit of everything we have come to expect from this band; speed, melody, aggression and atmosphere, all rolled up in 46 minutes of wholly immersive darkness.
A five year hiatus has clearly done the band some good as obligatory opener/Intro “In Ruins I Set My Throne” sets the unsettling tone before kicking straight in with first song proper (and album highlight) “Crowned Serpent”. Unleashing an arsenal of blast beats, crunching rhythm guitars, biting vocals and those oh-so-very-Swedish melody lines, it is easy to draw quick (and probably lazy) comparisons with the likes of Watain and Dissection, particularly in the thrashier, slower sections on tracks like “Halo of Lies” and Paradise Lost”. That said, there is undoubtedly a bit more bite and chew in Valkyrja’s musical approach as the furious riffing and blackened melodies on “Tombs into Flesh”, “Transcendental Death” and Opposer of Light” clearly show. Aided by the superb production job done by Tore Stjerna at the now infamous Necromorbus studio, the faster songs are allowed to clearly breathe all of their vitriolic fury, while the slower songs pound the senses with some beasty low end.
While “Throne Ablaze” is an overall great album it does admittedly lack variation as the album wears on, particularly on the penultimate title track which lasts for almost nine-minutes. I suppose with an album of this ilk you kind of just want to be bulldozed into submission instead of being slowly dragged kicking and screaming, which for the most part it does but is still a long way from being ‘perfect’ (whatever that means). Will it stand the test of time? Probably not, but nevertheless “Throne Ablaze” is an album still definitely worthy of your attention. (DaveW)