Kingdom's Death

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Death Is Not The End
02. River (Bare My Bones)
03. King Slayer
04. War-Torn
05. Hallowed Ground
06. Last Will and Testament

When winter starts to beckon with its frosty talons, crushing doom metal really starts to come into its own. A new force to be reckoned with, ACID THRONE make music that unfolds like a carpet of snow, burying light, hope and life along the way. A traditional three-piece with a sound that owes enough to the likes of ELECTRIC WIZARD and CONAN to be instantly familiar, they also have a profoundly melancholic and misanthropic streak that turns even the most monotonous wall of riffs into an overwhelming barrage of lysergic fuzz. This, it hardly needs stating, is exactly what the stoned doctor ordered.

Opener "Death Is Not The End" is a rambling epic with numerous nods toward black metal and NEUROSIS-style post-sludge. Smartly paced, it reveals ACID THRONE to be somewhat less predictable than most operating in this metallic realm. Likewise, "River (Bare My Bones)" is epic, grandiose and barbarous, with a thick, claustrophobic atmosphere that permeates every slo-mo riff and gruff howl. One could almost call it catchy, were it not for the sheer, visceral, pulverizing weight of the whole thing.

Recorded at the legendary Foel Studios in the dark depths of Wales, with producer Chris Fielding (CONAN) at the controls, "Kingdom's Death" is a distinctly British doom record that crackles with pagan prickliness and an ominous aura of unnatural horror. It's also a genuinely killer heavy metal record: "King Slayer" feels like the missing link between early BLACK SABBATH and "Battle Hymns"-era MANOWAR, albeit with more intrinsic malevolence than either. Every riff hits the spot, and ACID THRONE's three-way chemistry provides the underlying power. In contrast, "War-Torn" is creepy, crusty and cold-hearted: a thousand-yard stare across bloody battlefields that erupts into blackened blasting, racing to the end with a hard-on for BATHORY and a final riff that cuts like a bloody broadsword.

"Hallowed Ground" is another glacial hammering that twists the trad doom formula into ugly new shapes, all topped with Matt Stembrowicz's ghoulish, guttural bellowing. Best of all, "Last Will and Testament" is an unapologetic SABBATH-ian homage that stretches its frosty, fractured limbs over ten minutes of bilious repetition, steel-plated detours and enticing, weather-beaten nihilism. ACID THRONE's eclectic approach ensures that every primitive, lobotomized riff is followed by something distinctly different, be it a momentous ripple of black metal iciness or a disorientating squall of feedback and cavernous bottom end. As the conclusion to an album of deftly twisted trad tropes, it is just about perfect. Barely two years into their existence, ACID THRONE are already snapping at the heels of doom's best and greatest. Come for the riffs. Stay for the magic.

Author: Dom Lawson
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