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Blasting hyperspeed chaotic black metal is what we have on this album. Every review I've ever read of Enthroned has started off with the disclaimer 'not the most original of the black metal bands', so I'll follow that tradition and say here that if you come to this album expecting anything except straight traditional black metal in the vein of Marduk, Dark Funeral, etc. you will be disappointed. Enthroned don't really have the tools to set themselves apart from all the other bands playing this type of music, and their only hope seems to be to up the ante by increasing the speed, brutality, etc. This album is very fast, and the drums are constantly clicking at a 1000 mph throughout the songs, sounding at times like a machine because of the production. Is that a good thing? Not really, a little more varied rhythm work would have been appreciated and increased the catchiness of the songs measurably. But I guess this isn't about being 'catchy'.
What I DO like about this album is the vocals and the insanely hilarious lyrics. You have to feel a sort of sad affection for a band that has the innocence to write strictly about Satan, sodomy, bloodlust, etc. in this day and age, and while the lyrics are not the most original (or even grammatically correct) they are fun to try to sing along to. The vocalist Lord Dominus sounds like a croaking troll with Tourette's syndrome, filling the songs with his spewing venom, screaming almost constantly. His high barking reminds me a lot of Gorgoroth's past vocalists.
There is also a lot of solo work on this album, which (come to think of it) is something of a rarity in the black metal genre. The solos are not particularly striking or inspired, but they do subtract from the overall monotony of the songs. A few of them are actually almost evocative.
So what is there to say about Enthroned? I will keep this album in my collection, because it is a good example of where the second-tier black metal bands were in 1999 after the shakedown caused by Dimmu Borgir's success, but I still feel that most of their best work is in the past. Check out their earlier album 'Prophecies of Pagan Fire' on Osmose for a work that is a little more original.
The Apocalypse Manifesto marks a quite big change by Enthroned. The predecessor, that great Towards The Skullthrone Of Satan, was evil but raw as fuck and now, finally we have a better production that exalts the great drums work and the always excellent guitars lines. All, in all this album is different from the others before for a better production and I believe, an higher level of brutality.
The title track, after a short intro, is unbelievable for malevolence in the rhythmic guitars sounds and we can always found epic, satanic, obscure melodies in the long notes by the lead guitars to give even a more desecrating touch. “Death Faceless Chaos” is total blast beats until 2:17 where there are some epic passages with the bass drum in the first line.
Really, this is the Enthroned album where you can breathe the most obscure stenches ever: brimstone and hell. The atmosphere is truly apocalyptic and for this check out the riff at the beginning to “Retribution Of The Holy Trinity” or the great, majestic riff at 2:20…one of the greatest things Enthroned ever did. It’s impossible to remain indifferent in front of such violence.
The attack of “Genocide” is superb with plenty of blast beats and distorted, fast solos and following stops where the band’s skills towards dark melodies arise in a mess of hellish fires. In this case “Volkermord, Der Antigott” is great, featuring one of the most screamed performances by Peter Tagtgren (as special guest) at the beginning, with his classic scream-whistle.
The pure death metal influences can be found in the first part of “Alasor Rex Perpetuus Doloris” that features inhuman vocals and great blast beats always mixed with evil lead riffage and great atmosphere. The epic, awesome “The Scourge Of God” ends an album that surely doesn’t feature filler songs or mediocre songwriting. Another great album by Enthroned.
This was album number three (full-length anyway) for these Belgian Black Metal maniacs. (Ha! Say that three times fast.) Considering how good I found "Regie Sathanas" - the EP that preceded it - I was expecting more out of this album, because "The Apocalypse Manifesto" is a step back for this band.
For good or ill, Enthroned seem to be one of my fave BM bands. I won't argue that they are the best, or even one of, but I do listen to them a lot. And whatever you say about these guys, you can't say they aren't dependable. Enthroned play old school Black Metal with plenty of shrieking, invocations to Satan, and blastbeats galore. They don't use too many keyboards and they are in no danger of turning into a crappy atmospheric band. So this album does nothing to depart from the usual Enthroned style, but it does have several drawbacks that keep it from being nearly as enjoyable as the two releases that came before it.
For one, it is very short for a supposed full-length. Don't be fooled by the duration listed above – it includes over 6 minutes of silence tacked onto the end of track 8. So the CD is only about 35 minutes of actual music, less if you count the short "Intro" at the beginning. Plus "Genocide" opens with several minutes of war-and-machine-gun sounds and "Scourge Of God" has an extended narrative intro. So when you pare away the excess crud there is really very little meat on this CDs bones. Okay, the meat there is is pretty good – none of the actual songs on "Apocalypse Manifesto" disappoint from a songwriting perspective – but after a few spins you start to really notice how scanty it is, especially compared to "Skullthrone".
I also have to say I am disappointed with the production. I thought the sound on "Regie Sathanas' was really good, and I had hopes that an Abyss Studio production could put a little starch in Enthroned and heavy up their sound a bit. But the sound here is pretty mushy and undistinguished. It isn't bad, but I had my hopes up for better. The CD booklet reaches some kind of apothesis of Black Metal silliness, with each band member getting their very own illegible logo.
So this is not really a bad CD, just a letdown after the enormously entertaining "Towards The Skullthrone Of Satan" and "Regie Sathanas". The songwriting chops are solid, and overall the music is enjoyable, I was just hoping for a better (and longer) album. This will do, but if you want to check this band out, start with their last album, as this one is really for fans.
Enthroned have always been a band who have stuck with the black metal scene loyally, but never really contributed to it. They have never been bad, nor have they been good. They've just been there. That is, until they released this beast of an album in 1999.
Where the other albums were mostly uninspired, tedious and generic, the music contained on The Apocalypse Manifesto is raw and aggressive. The guitars shred their way throughout the album, with twisted chord changes and some impressively evil-sounding riffs. The drummer must have more arms than Vishnu to blast at the speeds he does, and the rhythm section in general is surprisingly tight for a black metal band. The vocals (a definite low-point on previous albums) are also far better this time around. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, but Lord Sabathan just sound tortured throughout the record.
Luckily, Enthroned do not fall into the common trap of blasting throughout an entire album, as Marduk and Dark Funeral have repeatedly done. Retribution Of The Holy Trinity starts off with some nice, thrashy riffing, while The Scourge Of God slows things right down, with a spoken word introduction before dropping into some mid-paced, groove driven material. Don't be fooled though, this is no thrash record. It is as black as they come, it just has variety as well.
This is not cold and dark like Immortal or Darkthrone, neither is it technical and keyboard riddled like latter day Dimmu Borgir or Emperor. This is the sound of hellfire and brimstone metal.