Other than Venom’s naming-rights, we Brits were pretty late to the Black Metal party. But while Scandinavia was in the icy grip of the Second Wave, with all its attendant political manoeuvring, we were developing the mournful melancholy of doom-death. As with the Black Metal movement it reflected the environment from which it arose: though rather than vast icy plains and forests we, in the north, have desolate windswept moors and less flammable churches. When we did throw our hat into the Black Metal ring we did so utilising the grandiose atmospherics of the Peaceville Three; so when Cradle of Filth’s first albums arrived they eschewed the blast-beat in favour of the symphonic.
Skip forward fifteen years and Winterfylleth release their debut album which serves to kick start a British Black Metal sound and sees them recognised across Europe, paving the way for other bands from these shores to finally be taken seriously. The preamble is to place Crimson Throne’s debut in context of a movement which embraces the dark atmospherics of Black Metal rather than being reliant on it speed and aggression.
Of Void & Solitude is an album of contrasting emotion: the light, almost ambient intervals of Dalit Lineage, with its use of acoustic guitar being rudely interrupted by heavy barrage of bass drum and filthy electric guitar, to the tracks moments of almost drone. Beneath all of this is the low, haunting vocals, barely audible at times, but sinister and unnerving when they appear. The slower paced mid-sections of Indignant Slumber are doom-paced, plodding along like with the occasional accompaniment of a piano.
As with the Doom-Death movement Crimson Throne have not been afraid to introduce unorthodox instrumentation into Of Void & Solitude. The piano appears again in the opening bars of the mainly-instrumental Blackened Sun with lines that are vaguely reminiscent of King 810’s Wolves Run Together; and I’m sure that I heard a violin hiding away in there somewhere.
The first half Of Void & Solitude is filled with haunting atmosphere, cumulating in Blackened Sun and it feels as through Crimson Throne decided to take the gloves off and get nasty for the second half. Scattered starts appropriately enough, with a swelling guitar, but a minute in a pounding drum informs you that the honeymoon is over. The drums and guitars battle for supremacy and create the kind of tempest usually reserved for pre-incarceration Burzum. The Pest-era Gorgoroth vocals are more prevalent during the later tracks and it feels as through they were hiding in the earlier songs, like some horror-movie monster.
It’s doubtful that the genre of Black Metal will ever reach the notoriety it did when Mayhem and Darkthrone stalked the land, but Of Void & Solitude admirably adds to the notice that the British are here and we can be as wistful or as fearful as we like.