Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2017
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

On The Throne - 91%

Larry6990, May 18th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Sleaszy Rider Records

This kind of power metal album always excites me. You know the sort: a fantasy storyline, an orchestral intro, a title like “Mountainous Kingdom Of The Mighty Icelord” – complete with artwork that wouldn’t look out of place in White Dwarf magazine. It conditions me to expect flowery symphonic power metal awash with thick layers of strings and choirs a la Fairyland. But genre-mainstays Kaledon pulled a fast one on me! After nine albums of reliable material, it’s clear they’ve always had a beefier sound than many of their fellow European counterparts – but their tenth full-length really puts the pedal to the metal. The wonderfully-titled Carnagus: Emperor Of The Darkness is the Italians’ first on Sleaszy Rider Records, and will please fans of both Rhapsody and Mystic Prophecy alike (two opposite ends of the power metal spectrum).

Their first few sagas were plagued by horrid early ’00s production which afflicted too many bands of this ilk – but the wonders of modern technology have brought some much-needed gravitas in recent years. Right from the get-go, the vicious guitar tone cuts through like a buzzsaw as “The Beginning Of The Night” explodes from the speakers (we’ll forget about the obligatory intro, which was clearly written by someone who doesn’t understand how to write for french horns!). This record features some of the best riffs in Kaledon’s career – from the stomp of “The Two Bailouts” to the rapid-fire “Eyes Without Life”. The newly-detuned guitar, aided by a powerful drum sound, really amp up the heavy. If you weren’t already convinced, then the brilliantly-performed harsh vocals by James Mills in “Telepathic Messages” and blast-beats in “Evil Beheaded” will prove this album’s credentials as undeniably metal.

As is usual for these Italians, Carnagus... does not feature many blazing guitar solos – which may disappoint some – but the sheer conviction with which they are performed, plus the enormity of the riff-work, more than make up for it. Kaledon also stick to their characteristic trait of frequently altering the tempo between sections. It’s impressive how they’ve nailed this technique so much over the past 15 years that it never feels like a hindrance. Much praise is to be heaped on Michele Guatoli for being, not only Kaledon’s most consistent vocalist, but by far the best. Italian accent notwithstanding, he belts out the huge choruses to “The Evil Witch” and “Trapped On The Throne” with aplomb. He is backed by an admirably thick choir and occasional gang-shouts which vary the texture nicely.

After a few listens through, this LP is incredibly hard to fault. Sure, it may be missing the compulsory ten-minute finale, but the rest of the record is packed with so much meat, nothing is missing…nope not even the mandatory ballad! Even the oft-maligned keyboards are remarkably effective here; adding a symphonic layer when necessary, but mostly employing a penetrative synth which is great for solos (see: “Eyes Without Life”). All in all, this might be the power metal release of the year so far – in tight contention with Ancestral’s “Master Of Fate”. If Kaledon’s dragon-obsessed legacy casts shadows on your doubting mind, dear reader – then allow me to redirect you to the 3:18 mark in “The End Of The Undead”. You’re welcome.