Sovereigns is the tenth full-length album from Belgian black metal horde, ENTHRONED. The Satanic five piece have released their latest opus unto the world via Agonia Records. Their 2012 release, Obsidium, landed in my personal top ten albums of that year. So, as you can imagine, I have anxiously awaited this release since it was first announced.
“Anteloquium” is a short instrumental track, kicking off the nine song LP. Drums slowly fade in, followed by eerie whispers. It serves as an ominous introduction to Sovereigns. “Sine Qua Non” starts with a single guitar, sounding aggressive, dead, and cold. ENTHRONED always seems to nail it when it comes to devastating guitar tones. The song gradually builds for close to 1:30, with each different instrument added and building the wall of sound. Vocalist Nornagest sounds as tortured and terrifying as ever. The slow build soon turns to a blistering pace. The groove that kicks in around 2:49 is fantastic. This song has a very “take no prisoners” attitude.
The third song on the record, “Of Feathers and Flames,” begins with harmonized guitars playing a dark, yet beautiful introduction. As the vocals kick in, the grim mood takes over and punishes you with blast beats and chaos. The song changes tempo numerous times and keeps you guessing. It is a truly epic track and a must listen; one of those songs that invokes unexplainable emotion within. “Lamp of Invisible Lights” begins with swirling guitars and mid-tempo drums. It sounds like something that could be paired with a death march. The spoken vocals give a chant like feel, with brief moments of what sounds like a choir singing before Nornagest’s harsh screams kick in. Some of my favorite guitar driven moments on the LP happen around the halfway mark of this tune. If I had to pick the most frightening song on the album, “Lamp of Invisible Lights” would be my first choice. “Of Shrines and Sovereigns” is unadulterated speed and hate. The vocals sound massive, as they are doubled with low and high screams simultaneously at moments. I am greatly looking forward to hearing this track at next month’s Maryland Death Fest and hitting the mosh pit. The ending moments of the song feature a completely chaotic guitar solo, leaving you stunned.
The sixth composition takes you to “The Edge of Agony.” This track has a very melancholic feel. The guitars sound dangerously depressive and haunting, while remaining aggressive. ENTHRONED excels at creating this kind of atmosphere. This is a trademark for them. “Divine Coagulation” features moments of tempo and attitude change, this nearly four and a half minute song does not let up. “Baal al-Maut” is my favorite overall song on the album. The peaks and valleys within this one make it larger than life. It is undeniably devastating; a song fit to summon Baal himself. There is no one instrument that stands out further than the others. Every instrument stands out in their own unique way during various points. The closer, “Nerxiarxin Mahathallah,” ends the album at break neck speeds. The guitars, bass, and drums all cut through like an ethereal buzz saw. It certainly feels like the perfect way to end the sinister and haunting Sovereigns.
Although ENTHRONED does not have any founding members among their ranks, the quintet of Nornagest, Neraath, Phorgath, Menthor, and ZarZax sound spectacular on this record. For most bands, losing their original members would mean certain death for the group, or at least result in sub-par offerings. This is far from the case with the Belgian black metallers. In my opinion, they have been putting out some of the best music they’ve ever created. As Obsidium proved in 2012, Sovereigns continues to show ENTHRONED have their best music ahead of them.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Of Feathers and Flames,” “Lamp of Invisible Lights,” “Of Shrines and Sovereigns,” and “Baal al-Maut”
WRITTEN BY ERIC THE BULL