Tetra Karcist

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Here we go again -- and we've been going for a decade. Who would have ever considered the day that the extreme nature of Nordic black metal, both musically and lyrically, would become a yawn? Enthroned are warriors of black metal, they have endured so many membership changes (including one suicide) that they're near impossible to count. What's more amazing is that with the exception of one album, the critically lambasted Armoured Bestial Hell (their "experimental" album), every single Enthroned album sounds the same. Fans of dyed-in-the-hoof black metal will no doubt be delighted that this one band isn't selling out to the temptation of progressing musically. It's all here, the Devil, and Satan, and God, and Satan, and goats, and corrupted fetuses, and Satan, and did we mention Satan? Blastbeats that sound more like drum machine rolls than anything else, thin buzzy production, words croaked -- sometimes with a chorus-like effect -- celebrate the winners of the dark vs. light championship at the beginning and end of the world. Enthroned aren't terrible. They play their chosen genre with all the requisite musicianship required. They address all of its topics with requisite certainty; they play requisitely well live, and tour and make records in a cyclical way. The question is when it comes to not only the band, but the genre as well is, when did playing good old Nordic black metal become so ho-hum even when played well? Can it be that the music itself has become a rather bland cartoon version of itself? When there are other scenes inspired by the Nordic hordes that have developed this music in all sorts of different directions from the French scene (Alcest), to Tasmania (Striborg), the Northwest of the U.S. (Wolves in the Throne Room) to Japan (Gnome, Hakuja), shouldn't listeners welcome a return to the roots? Not necessarily. When it is played this close to the vest it all comes down to safety and a lack of imagination. And Enthroned is certainly guilty of the former, as well as the latter. [Tetra Karcist was also released with bonus tracks.]

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