Crime Records

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Beneath - The Barren Throne Review

Band: Beneath
Album: The Barren Throne
Label: Unique Leader Records
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Country: Iceland
Release Date: April 29, 2014

Iceland’s BENEATH melts faces with their sophomore full-length release, THE BARREN THRONE. The follow-up to 2012’s ENSLAVED BY FEAR, via a label that rarely, if not never, disappoints - UNIQUE LEADER RECORDS. Along with a new vocalist, this record was produced at the famous Hertz Studios by the Wieslawski brothers (Behemoth, Dead Infection, Vader, Decapitated). And the cover art work was done by Raymond Swanland (Alterbeast, Deeds of Flesh, Psycroptic, Slechtvalk, Suffocation).

BENEATH sharpen their sound in this 11-track killer with songs reaching epic proportions (the longest at nearly 8min) displaying excellent song writing ability with elements of Brutal, Technical, Melodic and even Black. Sweet guitar work (even solos! Which is rare and scarce with a lot of new bands) by the brothers Sigrasson, a thick rhythm section by Gisli Runar Guomundsson and sick-drummer Ragnar Sverrisson, excellently complimented by the vocal debut of Benedikt Natanael Bjarnason.

The opening track, "Depleted Kingdom", starts off with a light-hearted intro that prepares you well for the diversity in this sick album setting the tone for their scattered, yet consistent and focused style. Even with the technicality within THE BARREN THRONE, it still offers itself to awesome, rhythmic headbanging. Early in the album you get a taste of the versatility in their song-writing with the song "Chalice" as it gives a bit of hint of Black Metal. I really admire how Sverrisson's drum-work stepped up real well since "Enslaved By Fear". He doesn't bore you or allow predictability. On tracks like "The Barren Throne"(title track), "Iron Jaw" "Sovereign Carnal Passion" really display a cohesiveness and tightness of the group.

By this point, you really welcome Bjarnason's vocal presence to the group. His addition, only a year old, really compliments the group very well. Halfway through the album you're already seriously buried in BENEATH's sound but then given sort of a break when they change it up with their Melodic side in "Sky Burial", their longest track on the album. But there's no letting up on this one. Immediately following are aggressive hits like "Veil of Mercy" and "Storm Drainer" with such Brutal groove and tasty solos. Ragnar prepares the final climax introducing "Unearthed" with his sick drum work. This track is an excellent way to bring to a close an immaculate album. 

The sound quality is so clean(and not by today's negative definition of clean). Hertz Studios really made it possible to distinguish every instrument for every track that just seems to flow and fall smoothly. You really feel the brutal aggressiveness that BENEATH set to prove on this one. My favorite tracks from this album have been “Chalice”, “Sky Burial”, "Storm Drainer" and “Unearthed” – but honestly, it’s just a solid record with something for everyone of us true die-hard Death Metal Fans.

With True Extreme Metal coming up big this year, BENEATH is a good example of great Metal from OUTSIDE the U.S.(See Nergal). With people’s list of the “Best of 2014” filling up fast, I strongly suggest giving THE BARREN THRONE a listen.

1. Depleted Kingdom

2. Chalice
3. The Barren Throne
4. Putrid Seed of Affection
5. Iron Jaw
6. Sovereign Carnal Passion
7. Sky Burial
8. Veil of Mercy
9. Mass Extinction Codex
10. Storm Drainer
11. Unearthed

Total Playing Time: 53:05