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Enthroning the goddess of magic - 75%

Felix 1666, November 1st, 2017

Is it possible to write a review for Hecate Enthroned without mentioning the name Cradle of Filth? Of course... not! The influence of the role models is just too great. Anyway, bands like Attic also follow the route of groundbreaking pioneers. The question is not whether or not an album offers new or innovative music. As long as the material knows to convince, everything is okay - and that's the case here. Thus, it can remain a footnote in the history of black metal that the sound of "Upon Promethean Shores (Unscriptured Waters)" was more or less innovative in 1995. Cradle of Filth were the inventors of this symphonic yet currish style, but they did not have the monopoly on it and there was only a very small number of further bands that walked the same path as Hecate Enthroned. Thus, the band was not ahead of the pack, but the guys also did not follow a massive trend.

Despite the rather dull sound, the release does not lack power. Especially "The Crimson Thorns (My Immortal Dreams)" scores with pressure, velocity and heaviness. The hoarse and guttural vocals fight with the fairly pompous orchestration and the result is great. Another advantage of the song is that it only lasts 4:25. Already the song titles reveal an affinity for opulence and the bombast of some overlong pieces is not everyone's cup of tea. Songs like "A Graven Winter" do not suffer from lacklustre sections, nevertheless, a slightly shorter length would have been no mistake.

Of course, the usual suspects, I mean words such as "epic", "majestic" or "monumental", come to mind when listening to this debut, but despite their duration, the songs are not too interwoven. Many straight and fast sections occur and ensure a pretty direct effect of the music. The guitars and the keyboards shape the songs while building a kind of musical condominium and complimenting each other harmoniously. By contrast, the rhythm section makes no crucial contribution. The drums are totally generic, but the variable vocals provide compensation for this. Lead singer Jon Kennedy was only 17 years old (and almost still in the cradle... pun!) at the time of the recording session, but his mean nagging, high-pitched screams, arcane whispering and demonic growls shape a mature performance. That's a really good thing, because songs like "To Feed Upon Thy Dreams" demand precisely for this flexibility in view of their mix of harsh and melodic parts.

All in all, Hecate Enthroned enriched the black metal scene with their debut and it is useless to discuss how much Cradle of Filth was in their sound. The stylish artwork did not promise too much; a new force with a holistic concept was on its way and underlined that black metal had more faces than just ugly (yet fantastic) lead guitars that blew their ice-cold winds from Norway into the rest of the world.

An Unexpected Classic - 90%

XuL_Excelsi, November 26th, 2009

Hecate Enthroned is a hugely underrated black metal act, and seems to always be overlooked by the genre’s followers.

Upon first hearing this debut EP, I wasn’t immediately drawn to it, being used to the more “accessible” sound of their later albums and even early Cradle of Filth albums. The raw sound of this album takes some getting used to if you’re used to later releases like “Dark Requiems…”.

However, it soon dawned on me that I had underestimated “Upon Promethean Shores” initially. It is truly an amazing debut effort, powerfully melodic black metal taking production cues reminiscent of COF’s “The Principle of Evil…”.

Keyboards play a lead role here, with guitars often taking a back seat. Symphonics create incredible atmosphere and add depth to every track. The songs have a curiously enigmatic feel, switching from heavy black to sweeping symphonic emotion seamlessly. All instruments are excellently executed, although bass is hardly audible, save for a few slower sections and intro’s. Hecate Enthroned showed great talent and promise on this release, with passion ringing in every note.

The vocals, consisting mostly of screeches and squeals with the occasional growl, are very fitting to the music, with a feverishly intense delivery and enough variety throughout tracks, avoiding monotony. The lyrics are also worth mentioning, eloquently written in a style that hints to Cradle Of Filth.

This is a debut equal to the likes of “The Principle of Evil…” and “For All Tid”, and yet somehow even better. Whereas on the aforementioned COF album, you feel them overthinking the songs, trying to reach their eventual fame prematurely, HE is different, never trying to be something they’re not.

My only critique is that the drum sound is way too thin, with the bassdrum a click scarcely heard over the other instruments, it lacks the depth and aggression needed to drive the epic songs forward.

This is an incredible album nonetheless that need not be overlooked, it deserves more attention and repeated listens. This is black metal as it was meant to be, with tremolo guitars, screeching vocals and blasting drums, but with a twist. The hauntingly beautiful keyboards and symphonic sections breathe new life into the genre and this EP leaves me awestruck every time. These 6 tracks are always over all too soon.

Beautality - 75%

doomknocker, September 28th, 2009

Here we have it, boys and girls, the "debut album" of HECATE ENTHRONED, an unfortunately laughed-at sextet of malevolent blackness. Accusations of FILTH-aping have sadly given these guys a horrid reputation over the years, one which proved too powerful at times for the group to overcome as they claw their way through the mire of black metal's swampy underground. It's a damn shame, seeing as, starting with this album, HECATE ENTHRONED had/have something special on their hands, a sense of brutal beauty that's dark and enchanting.

Musically these guys have some serious goods. I don't really see much of the "CRADLE OF FILTH rip-off" approach in the performance; while they both have similar styles HECATE ENTHRONED has a more guitar-driven style that hearkens more old-school black metal than the theatrical gothic approach of CoF. Guitars and bass grind alog in a haphazardly violent way, ripping through tempos and chord progressions as the keyboards provide a subtle, dramatic backdrop of eerie ambience, a touch of darkened sophistication that's more "Moonlight Sonata" than "Phantom of the Opera". The drumwork isn't quite as ambivalent as most of the black metal albums during its time, but plugs along in a better fashion with the music; while extreme and heavy, the general feel for the compositions wouldn't relegate usage of monstrously fast blasts (though they appear on occasion). The vocals would probably be the closest to FILTHdom the band would espouse, at least to a degree; his approach is more of a growling variety than the higher-pitched shrieks Dani (and even Jon) would make their own in later works. Stylistically these guys churn own some seriously dark and wicked metal, perverting all forms of holiness and light-hearted appeal in an ever-increasing malevolent shadow of decadent evil; from the faster and more chaotic tunes ("To Feed Upon Thy Dreams", "The Crimson Thorns (My Immortal Dreams)"), to the slower and more frightening ("A Graven Winter", "Ode to a Haunted Wood"), the band is in tip-top shape, where symphonic madness, riff-laden terrorism, and Satanic screams collectively and gradually slay the listener in the most impure of ways. Simply put, some stirring, sophisticated stuff.

So all in all while not truly treading unscriptured waters musically, HECATE ENTHRONED do nothing if not create enjoyable works nonetheless. While these guys would go onto bigger and better things, this foundation of glossy evil shan't be overlooked.

Black Metal Boy Scouts - 84%

lonerider, November 10th, 2008

British veteran melodic black metallers Hecate Enthroned often seem to be shrugged off as a kind of Cradle of Filth clone. I couldn’t say whether this reputation is justified or unjustified since I haven’t listened to enough Cradle of Filth or Hecate Enthroned to either discard or support this notion. What I did hear, however, tells me that at least on this EP, Hecate Enthrones are not quite as pompous and theatrical as Cradle usually are, relying more on the guitars to deliver the goods with some solid thrash riffs and the usual tremolo picking and buzz-saw strumming. Add to this the fact that there are no female vocals to be found on “Upon Promeathan Shores” and the result is a sound that, although the many parallels are undeniable, is rawer, heavier and less operatic than what Cradle of Filth have been known for lately.


The production values showcased on this record, on the other hand, are somewhat pedestrian and leave something to be desired. Particularly the drums come up short, with a rather lifeless snare sound and, even more glaring, double-bass pedals that lack substantial punch and come across as strangely dry, “clicky” and distant (though from what I can tell, the drums don’t appear like they were triggered). This wouldn’t be an issue if these guys were playing raw, Darkthrone-style black metal, but since their brand of black metal falls squarely in the melodic/symphonic variety, this is not exactly what you’re looking for. Apart from the drums the production isn’t all that bad, but it’s nothing to write home about, either—the guitars are also a little too dry and could use some more bite, and the bass, although this is to be expected for black metal in general, isn’t very prominent and rarely makes its presence felt.


As to the individual songs on “Upon Promeathan Shores,” they are all very solid and quality-wise range from good to pretty awesome. The album starts off nicely with a creepy satanic organ/keyboard intro (“Promeathea—Thy Darkest Mask of Surreality”) that sounds as if it were lifted directly from some 70s or 80s horror movie (think “The Omen” or stuff like that). Though keyboard intros in black metal are a dime a dozen, this one has always struck me as something special due to the atmosphere of dark solemnity and utter evil it invokes.


The first proper song is called “The Crimson Thorns (My Immortal Dreams)” and kicks the album off in rather spectacular fashion. Featuring plenty of blast beats, haunting keyboards, some extremely guttural grunts and a few nice tempo changes, this right here is textbook melodic black metal! Speaking of keyboards, they are virtually omnipresent throughout the album yet never get so overbearing as to drown out the guitars. Besides, the band fortunately decided to stick to “plain” keyboard sounds and eschew any orchestral samples, resulting in an overall sound that’s clearly more “melodic” than “symphonic” and, despite all the theatrical elements, never gets too corny. This track also provides firm evidence that the band’s lead vocalist has a highly variable voice enabling him to deliver Dani Filth-inspired high-pitched screams (the infamous “Mickey-Mouse-on-speed” vocals) as well as some very convincing and well-placed death metal-inspired gargled grunts.


Proper song number two, “A Graven Winter,” is extremely varied, omitting blasts but incorporating some catchy blackened thrash riffs, somber guitar leads, even more tempo changes and some whispered spoken word passages that seem to have been taken directly from Ye Olde Booke of Filth.


The following track, “To Feed upon Thy Dreams,” mainly sticks out because of the final one and a half minutes: at the 5:03 mark, the pace slows down considerably, acoustic guitars kick in and the rest of the song is carried by beautifully solemn guitar leads and some very impressive vocals that turn from mere whispers into some of the most emphatic black metal screams I have ever encountered. The melancholic, darkly romantic atmosphere conveyed by this section is one of sheer beauty and really stands out as one of the finest moments on this record.


Courtesy of some very swift drumming relying on lots of blast beats and effective double-bass pedaling, relentless buzz-saw guitars, frantic high-pitched screaming and spherical “satanic” keyboards, the final track before the subsequent outro, “An Ode for a Haunted Wood,” is at once the most extreme as well as probably the best song on this EP. If you can spare the time, you should also check out the video for this track, which should be available on any of the more popular internet video platforms. It features the band members hiking through said haunted wood, performing the odd satanic ritual here and there and filming their antics with a shaky handheld camera. If you ever wondered where the makers of “Blair Witch Project” got their inspiration from, this may well be it. Black metal boy scouts to the rescue! Aside from the unintentionally funny video, however, “An Ode for a Haunted Wood” is a definite highlight and saves the best for last. The ensuing “Through Spellbinding Branches (Deepest Witchcraft)”—what is it with these guys and their fascination with forests?!—serves as an outro that revisits the mood set by the intro and closes with the sounds of heavy rainfall and howling winds.


Overall, I find this EP to be a highly consistent affair with no weak songs and plenty of upside. If you’re not instantly turned off by everything resembling melodic/symphonic black metal and crave something comparable to (older) Cradle of Filth with a little less pomp and some added heaviness, then this may just be what you’ve been looking for!

They Credit Jon on Vocals, I Credit Dani - 70%

Old_Scratch, August 2nd, 2006

This is an album I bought during high school simply because a black metal release, I also read and heard some of the hype. Vocal style rip-job aside, this album has one redeeming factor: it is genuinely dark, something that can't be said about most bm releases.

Opening with a very appropriate atmospheric keyboard track, the album's mood is set from the start. "The Crimson Thorns" comes in strong with strong vocals in the form of growls, and of course, you get a taste of Jon's best Dani Filth impersonation. I'll stop right there and defend the little limey fucker with this: Dani wasn't the first to utilize that style of vocals. Kam Lee (Massacre, Mantas, Death) was the first to use that high-pitched shriek, though Dani is known for perfecting them. No one is original these days, it's been that way for a very long time.

"To Feed Upon Thy Dreams" is a track which holds classic atmospheric moments, and even has non-whiney, dark clean vocals. The last full song, "An Ode for a Haunted Wood" also bears the mark of ultra-gothique classic moods, starting off with drums and fading into the last track. The last track is no filler instrumental either, it's a keyboard piece the likes of which most bands would envy to be able to accomplish.

I wasn't expecting this... - 83%

Hellegion, December 22nd, 2003

I saw this CD used at the record store for $5 the other day, and remembering how I heard that they were a total Cradle of Filth ripoff, I picked it up to see for myself. You'll read a LOT of comparisons to CoF in this review, but once you hear this, you'll realize they are almost necessary.

I was actually surprised, because this really does come disturbingly close to sounding like the oldest Cradle material (read: their only material worth a thing), especially in the vocal, key, and "atmosphere" catagories. I really didn't think Jon sounded THAT much like Dani/CoF... I sort of figured a lot of it had to do with the fact that he was in Cradle of Filth for a while and just learned to utilize a similiar vocal style. That is, until track 5 kicks in... he actually carbon-copies Dani's high-pitched shriek on that track especially. I actually laughed when I heard this, because it's amazing that he'd so blatantly rip off such a distinct voice. Any ideas I was entertaining about him picking up a slight influence while with Cradle of Filth went straight out the window at that point.

Musically, I prefer this to most Cradle of Filth, not that this statement actually means anything... It's quite a bit darker, more extreme, the riffs are MUCH simpler and are more straight-ahead raw metal sounding rather than the NWOBHM-recycled ripoff riffs that Cradle is known for, the keyboards are performed better and sound less fruity, and there are no female vocals anywhere to be found (rejoice!). It still has a Cradle of Filth feel to it, but that probably has a lot to do with the vocals and atmosphere (as I have said).

It's amazing that for how ripped off of Cradle of Filth this is, it still holds it's own. A lot of people who are turned off by CoF's gothic aspects may actually like this, so it is sort of a Cradle of Filth for a more extreme-minded audience.

Oh, and just as I think of it, Upon Promeatheau Shores is completely devoid of the vampire fantasies of Dani and company, and instead opts for a Satanic image and musical concept. It also seems to be lacking the tongue in cheek aspects of Cradle of Filth, which is a VERY positive thing.

This comes recommended to anyone who likes pre-1996 Cradle of Filth (or anyone looking for Cradle of Filth minus the pseudo-metal rockstar attitude and tongue in cheek shit), fans of black metal with keyboards, and 14 year old kids wanting to rebel against their parents with the Devil's art.

It's NOT recommended to anyone who hates keyboards, England, or has started one or more anti-Cradle of Filth websites.