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Thronehammer - Usurper of the Oaken Throne

Usurper of the Oaken Throne
by Dave Nowels at 10 May 2019, 8:28 PM

THRONEHAMMER combines an impressive mix of UK and German musicians to form a power trio of imposing doomish metal. Vocalist Kat Shevil Gillham (UNCOFFINED/WINDS OF GENOCIDE/Ex-BLESSED REALM), along with multi-instrumentalists Stuart West (Ex-OBELYSKKH/Ex-THE WALRUZ) and Tim Schmidt (NAKED STAR/SEAMOUNT have composed an epic length (nearly 80 minutes) sonic assault that just released on May 3rd via Church Within records.

“Usurper of the Oaken Throne” is comprised of six tracks with an overall feel of CANDLEMASS meets BATHORY meets WARHORSE. Their description (or their record label's), but it's surprisingly accurate. The album opens with “Behind the Wall of Frost”, and you'll need to bring supplies as this one is a lengthy journey. Clocking in at over 17 minutes, there's a lot of ground covered here. The trio have created a tremendously huge and heavy sound with Shevil Gillham's vocals piercing through the fog like a fatal arrow. “Conquered and Erased” covers less ground (only 11 minutes), but the results are just as felicitous. West and Schmidt combine their instrumental efforts brilliantly, with Schmidt's low end as heavy and soul crushing as I've heard. West adds a deceptively innocent acoustic portion midway through before re-instating the grinding wheels of riffs again.

While the song “Thronehammer” the closing title track continues the established pattern of epic song length, and in particular, “Warhorn” (19 minutes!) , “Svarte Skyer” takes a shortcut. While only five minutes long, it still manages to capture the same dread and despair in it's shorter time frame. Which leads to the obvious question, is the lengthy nature of the majority of the songs overindulgent? I found the answer to be yes and no. Each one of the longer songs had the feel of songs within songs. The band never gives you the opportunity to get complacent or too hypnotized by the riff or droning. Cleverly, they seemed to identify area this could happen, and intently changed the patterns.

“Usurper of the Oaken Throne” is a well crafted artistic vision. It's also as heavy as any album you'll hear this year. It's appeal relies on it's ability to establish a sinister deceptiveness belied by its reliance on melody rather than completely on blunt force.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Behind the Wall of Frost
2. Conquered and Erased
3. Warhorn
4. Svarte Skyer
5. Thronehammer
6. Usurper of the Oaken Throne
Kat Shevil Gillham - Vokills
Stuart Bootsy West – Guitars, Synth, FX
Tim Schmidt – Bass, Drums
Record Label: Church Within Records


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Edited 29 March 2020

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