At the Throne of Judgment

The Arcanum Order

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Coming from a label (Rise Records) built upon smudged streaks of post-emo guy-liner, At the Throne of Judgment's death and black metal-driven debut album, The Arcanum Order, feels like a welcome shovel upside the head! Heck, opening track, "The Sentinel," alone eats all of the group's cookie cutter labelmates for breakfast and, since he can't decide between a black metal rasp or death metal growl, vocalist Eric Kemp somehow manages to cover both bases (ah, studio magic!), alternating back and forth while proclaiming his extremely verbose and involved but generally intelligible lyrics about historic and mythical events. "Mariner's Cutlass," "Martyrdom; Ruin of Gaia," "Tomb of Thracians," and others delve into the rich fabric of Greek legends, while "Horus Rises" heads to Egypt, and all of them are soundtracked by At the Gates' bastard children from Ohio. In fact, among the various touchstones evident in At the Throne of Judgment's music, the venerable Swedes unquestionably occupy the loftiest, er, throne, in the pantheon; but there are also countless stylistic nods to metalcore (see "Celestial Scourge," in particular) and good ol' thrash. And even though a few tracks sound a little thrown together and unfinished ("Discarnate by Design," " Delphic Star," for example), they benefit from always proficient and highly musical solos from guitarist Brad Weaver -- who will need himself a six-string partner if the band is to repeat all of these dual harmonies on-stage.

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