Album Review: Incantation Rites – Thronehammer


The Progressive Cave Ogier and Obsolete Dreadnought both love to talk about Metal. In fact, these two old hairy armed and eared buggers have been doing it for the past 20 years. Here’s the latest conversation over what might well be the most promising Doom album of the year so far. 

PCO: “The new Thronehammer is surely a record I was looking forward to a great deal. I was promoting the debut among the TMW staff with the punch line “like Conan playing Candlemass.” And that is sure what it sounds like too, no doubts about it. It sounds heavy, epic and brilliant. Still… I have to say the new album of theirs, “Incantation Rites,” has taken me by surprise!”

OD: “Same here. I have known the band since it was just an idea many years ago, because I used to live in the same city as Thorsten, back when he was a member of Obelyskkh. His idea (to put it in very few words) was to make something more “Metal” than what he did before. I was really looking forward to their debut and when it came out it really hit a nerve. I was expecting something great from the new album, and “Incantation Rites” still managed to surprise me. If the records were playing an RPG, the character of “Usurper of the Oaken Throne” would be a barbarian, and the one of “Incantation Rites” would be a necromancer. Does that makes sense to you?” 

PCO: “In a way, definitely. Whereas the debut album was more of a hard hitting, weighty Metal monster, the new album is more epic and above anything DOOM!! It hits those mournful melodic bits at least as often as it goes balls-to-the-wall heavy.”


OD: “That’s the point. With their debut, Thronehammer masterfully made what many bands can only attempt: a mid-tempo heavyweight, oppressive, distorted sound focusing on the bass spectrum. The new album is just more mystical, melodic and complex. The sound works in a way wider stage, filling the room. It is less sludgy and raw, but way more monumental and… yes, epic is really the word. I’m also under the impression that the arrangements are more complex, but the songs are built in a more minimalistic way. The whole album sounds more hypnotic, with a less sing-along character than their debut. Or maybe this is just because I haven’t heard it enough so far. How do you feel about the song structures?” 

PCO: “They are definitely more varied, the structures. There’s nods towards British Doom, bits that remind us of what Obelyskkh do well, great even and remote Slayer moments too. Definitely more gears than one to wield, with this record. Also, the vocals come across as more varied. There is a larger balance to be found and variety in between the clean and the growled, as one could express it.” 

OD: “That is an incredibly important point with the album. I had not heard the voice of Kat Gillham before the first 10” split of Thronehammer and liked her voice a lot. I really do not know any singer I could compare her voice to. She gives the band a truly unique sound. And the thing is, I have the impression she has gone a very long way in the few years that separate the 10” from “Incantation Rites.” Her voice sounds just magnificent on this album, powerful and individual. The professionalism of her voice luckily goes hand in hand with the musicianship of her co-conspirators and with the overall song writing in general.”

PCO: “Yeah, very much true. Her performance is the sole thing that has taken the biggest single step ahead on this record. When she hits those searing Doom parts, her clean vocals are the thing that really make a composition fly.” 

OD: “I agree. Kat’s performance really make Thronehammer stand out, but I actually see quite a many general steps ahead in all the aspects of the music. The production, the instrumentation in general and the compositions. But maybe – complaining at a very high level – the greater complexity of the music makes it a bit less stage oriented. I had to miss their concerts in Germany in 2019 (for unavoidable reasons), but I can rather imagine the songs of their debut album as live killers, rather than the new ones. That being said, they will probably rearrange the new songs for concert purposes once they will be possible in general again. Do you have any favourite tracks from “Incantation Rites?” 

PCO: Let us speak of the tracks, as a couple of them really do stand out. If Slayer ever wrote a Doom song, it would be “Thy Blood!” “Beneath Black Cloud Masses” reminds me of Obelysskh, before closing out with something Iron Maiden could be proud of. Yet, my absolute favourite song on the album is “A Fading King.” What an epic Doom Metal masterpiece that particular one is!”

OD: “The mentioning of Slayer surprised me a lot, so I had to listen to “Thy Blood” again before continuing. Damn! Yes! And it is a song with an amazing groove. I don’t know if speaking of groove in Doom is not a bit to heterodox, but this song is danceable – and I mean it as a compliment! “A Fading King” is truly a masterpiece, indeed. I see it as the most balanced song of the whole album and dare I say that I smell a little bit of good old Amorphis in this one, here and there? Nothing overtly dominant, but I kind of feel it still. This is again a compliment from my side. To me, the greatest part of the album comes at the end: “Of Mountains and Glacial Tombs” could exist as independent work from the rest of the album! It is a one track Doom Metal opera, with tones of tension and a lot of might packed in its narrative. I have actually been listening to the song on its own when I know I don’t have enough time to go for the whole album. Only the closing of the song feels like it is not the end of it at all. Maybe the next record Thronehammer release will start with a part II to it?” 

PCO: “You mentioned time… The length of the album and the time it takes to spin. Do you think it is a bit too long, this one? Or do you prefer Doom to be like this, over an hour of running time?” 


OD: “Good question! We are surely living in stressful times. As I said, I will sometimes have to cut an album short because I need to jump onto the next item on my agenda. And I surely do not enjoy it when one can feel that an artist has packed an album with oversized intermezzos, or B-sides to make it feel more massive, or sell you a double LP when one would have done the job alone. But this is most definitely not the case here. This is epic Doom Metal, not Grindcore. This kind of music simply needs room to grow and create atmosphere. Also, epic Doom always has been a way to escape the shit in life for me. “Incantation Rites” does that job perfectly. My commute times are very long, so I can just crack open a beer, get the record spinning, needle it in and get an hour or so for myself in the evening. The album will maybe allow me to open another beer too. Feels a bit like the holidays, you know? Reducing the album to 45 minutes would have been a bad move. It would have killed the atmosphere. Made it feel like an EP instead. As I said, this is Doom and it should not be cut short! I have to mention “Harbinger of Metal” by Reverend Bizarre here for an example: It is 74 minutes of music, but the guys sold it as an EP. Got to love that.”  

PCO: “That is a point, right there. Then again, as a hardcore lifetime fan of the classic LP length, I also enjoy the 45 minute Doom albums with four or five great songs alone on them. With this record, I often realize my attention starts to wander off around the last song, which is a shame, as it is a good track.” 

OD: “I guess this is the danger with such lengthy albums. It’s definitely not a case of easy listening, with all the advantages and disadvantages that come with complex and lengthy records like this one. It is nevertheless the best Doom album I have heard in a long time and this is a music direction that has had quite a few great releases over the past years.” 

PCO: “Actually, I agree with you here. This is the best thing the Doom scene has produced in a long time. It has it all – the epic, sorrowful melodies and the crushing quality of the asteroid heavy riffs.” 

Rating – 4/5

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