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Bloodthorn: Onwards into battle

26/07/12  ||  Sokaris

In the late 90s, Season Of Mist emerged as a small label specializing on the more melodic versions of extreme metal. Though they were far from the powerhouse they are today, there are some forgotten albums they helped bring into the metal scene that deserve a dusting off. Their early roster included the likes of …And Oceans, a psychotic/symphonic black metal act, the painfully underrated melodic tech death unit Anata and the often overlooked Seth.

The focus of this review, however, is the sophomore album from Norway’s Bloodthorn. Entitled “Onwards into battle”, the disc presents us with a 50 minute time capsule of late 90s extreme metal, when subgenres were busy cross-pollinating and birthing new blends of sound.

Though they’re probably known more for their bludgeoning works of death metal, namely Genocide and “Under the reign of terror”, Bloodthorn came to life as a sort of gothic/black/dark metal act. Atmospherically it reminds me of fellow Norwegians Aeternus, an interesting comparison since they also turned death metal around the same time. Unlike Aeternus though, the change to more immediate and riff-centric music for Bloodthorn was an improvement and in this case it’s the early work that could use a little more development.

This isn’t an album with crippling issues and glaring flaws, since for the most part everything’s fairly well done. The problem lies in that it’s kind of a middling affair all the way through. Mostly steady tempos, decent enough riffs and some pretty keyboards. The vocals are well performed but don’t show a lot of range or emotion. Nice guitars but a solo, an piercing lead, a thrash break, SOMETHING needs to come along and spice things up. The drums add some excitement but mostly follow convention. I actually really enjoy the sections with female singing, not necessarily because Christine Hjertaas is some kind of vocal queen, but because she’s at least putting some personality into what she does. This recording isn’t dark or sinister enough to get away with this much plodding. What we have here is a good start but some energy needed to be injected into the fray along with some liberal fat trimming.

At this point Bloodthorn were more of a genre band, in that if you like the genre they’re playing you’ll probably like them. Otherwise, there’s not much to see here. Basically if you’re interested in something that kind of floats between melodic black metal and gothic doom with some atmospheric keyboards this is a recommended recording. If not, don’t dismiss the band yet because at this point a huge sonic overhaul was just around the corner that would result in two superior albums of a much different style.

6

  • Information
  • Released: 1999
  • Label: Season Of Mist
  • Website: Bloodthorn MySpace
  • Band
  • Krell: vocals
  • Christine: vocals
  • Tom: guitars
  • Kai: guitars
  • Harald: bass
  • Geir Mikael: synth
  • Knarr: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. As one in darkness
  • 02. …Of aeons to come
  • 03. Death to a king
  • 04. Dead silence
  • 05. The day of reckoning
  • 06. Sounds of death
  • 07. Beneath the iron sceptre
  • 08. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow