Enthroned - Cold Black Suns
Season Of Mist
Black Metal
10 songs (52:40)
Release year: 2019
Enthroned, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat

Belgium's finest Satanic warriors are back again with a new album, their eleventh since forming all the way back in 1993. Some might dismiss the band as a second-rate act, akin to Dark Funeral or other purveyors of solid but forgettable blasting yet the revelatory experience I had with sister band Emptiness' phenomenal 2017 album Not For Music alone made new releases from Enthroned must-listens. And while Cold Black Suns isn't quite as good as that mini-masterpiece it is a huge step up in quality from any assumptions you may have, sharing an experimental sense of atmosphere and a creative approach to songwriting that focuses as much on the space between riffs or blasts as the heaviness itself. There is plenty of heaviness, Hosanna Satan alone a storm of brutality closer to grind than black metal at points, while Beyond Humane Greed opens with what is pretty close to black n'roll before weirding things up considerably with some dissonance.

Yet overall the album really is about the atmospheric side. The band members (none of whom are original after the departure of Lord Sabathan in 2006) are all in various other projects with plenty of experience between them, which you can tell from little touches like the genuinely ominous intro piece Ophiusa or the way that they simply allow moments to breathe, such as the building percussive intro to Oneiros. Slower tracks can tend towards a gloomy, almost gothic pound a little too reliably to make Cold Black Suns truly out-there, but it's always effective, especially with touches like the backing clean singing that gives Oneiros a cultish, invocatory feeling. And the varied and interesting riffs and drumming are closer to the hand of recent Mayhem than any more typical black metal band, the instruments being used as much texturally as anything. Marduk or 1349 at their most experimental are also good touchstones, although Enthroned are of course very much their own band after over twenty-five years in the business! It also helps that they aren't afraid of a good guitar solo, both Beyond Humane Greed and Vapula Omega indulging themselves in this area, and making it seem fitting and part of the song.

Emptiness fans (there are dozens of us!) may wish for a little more oddness to the darkness, but there's no denying how good Enthroned are at this. Silent Redemption is probably the gothiest piece present with those backing swirling guitars helping to hypnotise the listener perfectly, amping up the tempo and heaviness towards the end, but there are plenty of highlights otherwise, not least the eerie group male vocals that lead the relentless Aghoria, like Rotting Christ given a dose of blackened steroids. The album peaks towards the end with a couple of longer songs, the seven-minute Smoking Mirror and the nearly nine-minute Son of Man and both are terrific, using their time well and mixing in both atmospheric chills and brutal blackened beatdowns. Even bonus track Womb of Violence is worth hearing, ending a good album from an underrated band that deserves to be heard by more ears.

Killing Songs :
Oneiros, Silent Redemption, Beyond Humane Greed, Smoking Mirror
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Enthroned that we have reviewed:
Enthroned - Obsidium reviewed by Charles and quoted 77 / 100
Enthroned - Pentagrammaton reviewed by Charles and quoted 70 / 100
Enthroned - Prophecies of Pagan Fire reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
Enthroned - Carnage In Worlds Beyond reviewed by Jack and quoted 90 / 100
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