Far across our great sunburnt land, something folky this way comes. That something, is Perth Melodeath/Folk titans Claim the Throne, and they’re bringing the fire like never before with their new album On Desolate Plains.
A serene yet haunting clean guitar plays in the foreground, setting the stage for the maelstrom of fury to come, but not before the guitar breaks away, leading us into a strummed acoustic intro accompanied by the soaring voices of vocalists Brendon Capriotti and Jesse Millea. Harmonies ring like church bells, creating a firm juxtaposition for when the distorted guitars, double kicks and vicious growls take the stage and throw us face first into the opening track of the band’s fourth album Fury Entwined. Now that’s how you start an album folks (no pun intended).
The full force of the band’s instrumentation, along with fast changing tempos and time signatures make for an extremely memorable opener, and the perfect marriage of Folk and Melodeath makes it perfectly clear what to expect for the rest of the album. We’re then introduced to the album’s title track, ‘On Desolate Plains’. Title tracks are no small deal, and it’s extremely obvious the W.A Quintet know this. The thunderous blast beats and triplets that make this song a headbanger’s wet dream lean solidly to the Melodeath side, but that only makes the folky sections that appear sparingly throughout the track more effective.
‘Spirit of Fire’ introduces the only issue I have with this album. With so much going on all the time, it can be hard to pick out what some of the supporting instruments are doing at any one time. Normally this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but with the intricately placed keys playing a heavy part in this track, I just wish they stood out a little clearer. The next track, ‘Mantra’, however makes clear one of my favourite things about this album, the pacing. When it comes to writing a full length album, bands have to factor in how to keep the listener interested for the whole duration of the piece. Dynamics have a huge part in this, and Claim The Throne know it. The spacing of heavy to soft, slow to fast is a craft the band have mastered, and it only serves to strengthen the album as a whole.
Further proving my point, the next 2 tracks, ‘Where Night Passed and Sunlight Shone’ and ‘Silence Beckoning’ play on said strengths, with the former being an almost 6 minute epic, and the latter playing as a ball-crushing riff fest, perhaps the heaviest song on the album, showcasing tremolo picked sections with underlaying triplet chugs and guttural death growls for days. The soothing cleans of Keyboardist/Vocalist Jesse Millea make an a brief appearance towards the end, serving as a crescendo before the track closes, leaving us hanging for more.
‘This Agony Endured’ features more strong Melodeath vibes, with a screamed chorus topped by some seriously catchy leads, bearing a resemblance to other Aussie genre greats such as ‘Be’lakor and Orpheus Omega’. We’re then treated to what is one of my favourite tracks on the album, ‘My Dying Throes’. At this point of the album, the clean vocals in the verse and general down tempo feel of the song are extremely refreshing. Even the palm muted tremolo picking doesn’t feel as in your face, and serves the song dynamics more than just being there for the sake of sounding heavy. The instrumental second half of the track breaks everything up nicely, which is a well needed rest before heading to the final portion of the album.
The one thing I’ve learnt from this album is that CTT love to lure their listeners in, then surprise them by going in the complete opposite direction. This is no more true than in ‘Everblade’. I was almost expecting a ballad when the classically played guitar and keys kicked the song off, only to be treated to a heaven of blast beats and once again. After the laid back feel of the previous song, I felt ready for the carnage, which is evenly broken up into tough riffs, reprised classical guitar and some seriously killer solos, before finishing the track with a beautiful nylon string outro.
While the band leaned heavily towards a more Melodeath sound on this record, we’re treated to one last slab of epic folky goodness in the form of the album’s last full song, ‘Harbinger, Scavenger’. I can’t help but see this song as a summary of the album itself, featuring a ton of variety in its structure, acting as one last hoorah for what the band has aimed to accomplish this time round. As the track draws to a close and the acoustic guitars ring out, the haunting piano showcase that creates the album’s (mostly) instrumental outro track, ‘Of Creation’, acts as a closing credits scene, painting a picture of sorrow and desolation before the final choir bids farewell to the listener once more.
Pre-order now at www.claimthethrone.com
Digital at claimthethrone.bandcamp.com