Sunderland’s Wodensthrone gave the black metal world a special offering back in 2009 when they released the ‘Loss’ album. Three years on from their aggressively-charged offensive, the six-piece have become five.
Whilst there’s a general departure from their more ambient tidings, they’ve given us something with equal swathes of progressive texture and refined black metal to better their previous attempt. You would be forgiven for thinking the pressures of bettering a bewildering debut album and the unexpected departure of charismatic frontman Brunwulf would be enough to bury the band into relative obscurity. But Wodensthrone don’t only come out fighting in ‘Curse’, they exceed all expectations and cement their status as one of Britain’s best black metal acts. Joining the likes of Winterfylleth and Fen, the heathen metallers are at the top of the chain, and best at generating that mystifying feeling from ghosts of old, to take you back to the roots of the land from whence their ancestors came.
Opening track ‘The Remaining Few’ will do this, but it will also bring a few surprises for fans of the first album. Rædwalh and Wildeþrýð’s new vocal duties hear them vary wildly from their irreplaceable former singer. The harsh rasp is a tad lower in tone and we’re even treated to some Enslaved-styled vocal harmonies that melancholically erupt at ‘Jormungandr’’s finish.
Beautiful Moonsorrow-esque interludes and proggy guitar work follow on highlight song of the album ‘First Light’ and the blackened charge of ‘Battle Lines’. Wodensthrone have more to give than your average black metal act. They pound through verses with the same intensity on songs like ‘The Storm’, but it’s when they’re at their least impressive. Their real beauty lies with the ancient atmosphere they create within this brazened framework, resurrected with melodic chord shifts, whirring soundscapes and a progressive edge.