Blood Red Throne - Imperial Congregation
Nuclear Blast
Death Metal
10 songs (45:53)
Release year: 2021
Blood Red Throne, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

The philosophers in Kreator said that it's a pleasure to kill and these Norwegians certainly agree, here back with over twenty years of experience and their tenth album, first for Nuclear Blast. An interesting move for a band who have released albums with everyone from Hammerheart to Earache! yet perhaps someone in the right place had their ear snagged by 2019's Fit to Kill and was duly impressed. That album's heavily blood-coloured palette is replicated here, perhaps not quite as well but certainly with no real loss of appetite for violence. A little Slayer, a hint of Deicide, a touch of older Decapitated, all blended into a surprisingly enjoyable meaty gloop - it may be a formula that has changed little over the band's career, give or take a little tinkering, but it has also earned the band respect even from those that prefer their death metal with a little more than meat and potatoes.

And Blood Red Throne have been sharpening their blades in the two years since, keeping a stable line-up and improving their production to ensure that this particular flock is extra heavy. The opening title track sets the scene well with a brutally heavy but not unmelodic battering, a touch of Aro-era The Haunted coming across initially and intriguingly with plenty of widdly lead guitar before the band yank the carpet out from under your feet with the colossal Itika. Perhaps not the band's heaviest tracks ever but it is decently jaw-crushing, with a tech-thrash opening that leads into a Negation-era Decapitated throwdown, sure to ruin necks when live shows are resumed, and also a technical masterclass with plenty of bass flourishes (audible thanks to the, again, great production) that is far more fun to listen to than the work of innumerous tech-death riff-salad wannabes.

Death metal is not just about showing off, after all, but it's also about fun; death metal is for the kids! And Blood Red Throne prove again and again across Imperial Congregation how much fun they are, the songs never quite blowing your socks off but always solid and enjoyable. The likes of Conquered Malevolence and Transparent Existence batter along well enough, the latter indulging in some nicely odd soloing, yet there's nothing progressive about this, and such fripperies would a distraction from the central killer neck abuse that Blood Red Throne make their own. And really, when the general track quality is high enough to produce stompers such as Inferior Elegance, a distillation of older Decapitated with enough new blood to harden the sinews anew, there's little reason to feel let down.

There's no quality dip as the album continues, either, later cuts like We All Bleed just as ravenously rampageous but also showing off surprising highlight such as the oddly titled 6:7 which turns out to be one of the album highlights, as keenly riff-worshipping as it is focused on kicking the listener's head in. Only slower, more atmospheric closer Zarathustra does anything particularly different with an ever so slightly increased focus on the band's melodic side, and even that can feel like something of a letdown after the razor-sharp death metal of before. Still, it ends the album well and shows that the band are not at all content to rest on their laurels. Imperial Congregation is an easy album to love, if one that few would regard as particularly an outlier in the death metal scene; yet those that know Blood Red Throne will be pleased to see them signed to a label willing to put money behind them, and happy for whatever success follows a band who have ground hard for a long time now without watering down their sound at all. Certain tracks from here would have fit perfectly on 2003's Affiliated With the Suffering; so potent is this band's formula that their sound is becoming oddly timeless, and if we get an album of this calibre from them every other year then few fans would be disappointed. Another entry in an increasingly solid discography; happy tenth, boys!

Killing Songs :
Itika, Inferior Elegance, We All Bleed, 6:7
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Blood Red Throne that we have reviewed:
Blood Red Throne - Fit to Kill reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Blood Red Throne - Blood Red Throne reviewed by Goat and quoted 71 / 100
Blood Red Throne - Brutalitarian Regime reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Blood Red Throne - Souls Of Damnation reviewed by Khelek and quoted 83 / 100
Blood Red Throne - Come Death reviewed by Dylan and quoted 85 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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