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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.