Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Slechtvalk: A Forlorn Throne (2010)


Slechtvalk is a band from the Netherlands that I discovered on the Christian metal special from The Metalcast. Of the bands I hadn't heard before, this was the one that piqued my interest the most, so I picked up A Forlorn Throne, their fourth full-length.

A Forlorn ThroneSlechtvalk plays a style of melodic blackened death metal culled from two of the most accessible acts out there: Dimmu Borgir (before they started sucking) and Amon Amarth. Some of the songs sound more like DB ("Bewailed") and others sound more like AA ("Divided by Malice"), but most of the tracks blend the two nicely. Some of the riffs could be straight from either band, but other times they play AA riffs in a blackened style. The vocals are mostly a capable black metal rasp, similar to Satyricon, but there are also ICS Vortex-like epic clean vocals and Amon Amarth-style death growls. They also use some understated keyboard playing for atmospheric effect. Like either of their most obvious influences, you can rarely pick the bass out in the mix, despite a clean and obviously high-quality production.

As I've come to expect from Christian metal, there's not a whole lot of dissonance to be found, making it more accessible but also less dangerous and enticing. At the same time, though, they manage to pull off a few original tricks (check "Allegiance" for one of the more interesting riffs) and the songwriting is compellingly epic. The lyrics focus on tales of battle. In other words, it's not preachy, and it's worth listening to. The album is long (just over an hour) but none of it dragged on to the point that I wished they'd just get on with it.

The Verdict: Slechtvalk has recorded a very good album in A Forlorn Throne, that should satisfy long-time metalheads looking for a Dimmu fix after losing that band to bloated egos. It should also prove a fantastic entry point into black metal for those who are just discovering the genre after moving on from the Gothenburg style. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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