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Epic, massive and monumental - 90%

Felix 1666, June 3rd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2010, CD, Whirlwind Records

In terms of this phenomenal music called heavy metal, the use of keyboards is always questionable. This applies in particular to the extreme forms of the genre. Be that as it may, one thing cannot be denied: Gene Simmons, lead vocalist and bass player of Kiss, is clueless when it comes to extreme metal. Apart from that, he holds the view that playing keyboards just looks unattractive. And he should know because he also cannot be described as attractive. But any discussion about the optic appearance of keyboards is pointless. The determining factor is their involvement in the sound. With regard to Slechtvalk, we can notice that the keyboards are not just an additional feature of minor importance. Quite the opposite, they play a prominent role without subjugating the guitars. The interplay of these dominant instruments results in a dense, powerful and energizing sound. The drum performance also has to be mentioned, because it does not lack of virtuosity. To cut a long story short, there is no need to be afraid of a sterile production with sticky keyboard lines. Slechtvalk is immune against the integration of sweetness and sliminess.

Fortunately, Slechtvalk is definitely not immune against the creation of fantastically configured songs. Just take a look at the playtimes of the single songs and you will get an idea of the general appearance of their sound. Slechtvalk do not appreciate simplicity (that´s a piece of cake) and they manage complexity masterly (that´s no piece of cake). It is amazing to see how the Dutch crew puts together the pieces of this difficult puzzle. Thanks to a pronounced sense for melodies, the epic works shine with a more or less perfect flow. They possess the right amount of breaks that lead to an exciting variety of tempo changes. But these changes do not hurt the harmonic overall impression of the tunes; and it goes without saying that I am talking of a very metallic form of harmony. Furthermore, I am impressed by the fact that the group is able to deliver nine opulent tracks without significant differences in quality. To avoid confusion, I am speaking of a remarkably high quality level. Each and every tune hovers at the interface between black metal and viking metal without offering trite "ohoho"-choirs. The order in which the subgenres appear is not randomly chosen. A few medieval and pagan moments cannot prevent that the black metal elements characterise the sound. Those of you who like Dimmu Borgir´s "Spiritual Black Dimensions" or "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" will be familiar with the here presented kind of black metal. Especially the different voices - clean singing, grim nagging, deep growling - remind me of the sound of the Norwegians. And those of you who think that these Dimmu outputs are anything else but black metal do not need to read on.

Due to the fact that Slechtvalk delivers an almost divine mixture of heavy parts, effervescent melodies, hymnal outbursts, calm interludes and blastbeat driven sections, the album scores with the creation of different moods. Nevertheless, there is a tendency. The songs give you a feeling of discomfort. They summon you to be aware of an uncertain number of latent endangerments. But as mentioned before, the manifold album cannot be reduced on this atmosphere. The band leaves room for a breather from time to time. However, these breaks are short. The next sonic whirlwind is already waiting to capture you. Seen from this perspective, the name of the record company fits exactly. Thus, everything is in order? Well, some self-titled defenders of the real faith might say that they do not listen to "unblack" metal, due to whatever reason. I do not take part in this debate. I focus on the music, not on any kind of religion or ideology. Therefore, I just enjoy the fact that this album has enriched my collection in a sustainable manner. The liveliness and the mightiness of the compositions set the bar high for the competitors of Slechtvalk and, of course, for the formation itself. This might be the reason, why they did not write and release the successor of the here reviewed masterpiece up to the present day. Anyway, I hope they will return (and I do not care about the idle talk of Gene Simmons).

Viking brutality in my headphones - 95%

zhay777, October 22nd, 2011

I'm great fan of Christian black metal ("unblack metal"), accordingly, I’m fan of Slechtvalk, but when I listened to "A Forlorn Throne" at first, I was shocked. I didn't like it and I thought that Slechtvalk died. It must be said, that this album has really unique guitar sound, I haven’t heard sound like that before, and I, don’t know why, didn't like it, I couldn't hear whole beauty of this album, so I put it on last shelf, where nobody could find it. A few days ago, I found out that I had nothing to listen to, so I decided to give "A Forlorn Throne" one more chance.

Noticed a change in the logo? This is reborn Slechtvalk logo. The biggest change which was observed in comparison with the previous albums is in guitar riffs. If in the previous albums guitars and keyboards were creating melodic and symphonic sound, now the keyboards alone make the atmosphere (as in the song 'Towards the Dawn'), while guitar riffs acquired more brutality, typical for viking metal. Drummer really feels his instrument, as well as music, played by the band. Beside the speed of drumming, drum fills like that I could only hear in Metallica's early work. There was made huge upgrade in vocals. Besides of harsh vocals, I could hear growls and clean vocals. Clean vocals sounded in previous albums too, but in this album clean vocals became more frequent. Bass plays among the guitars and almost can't be heard out of mix.

When I heard the intro of Tamers of the Seas, I realized that I wouldn't waste another hour of my life, as I was thinking before. The next track, Forsaken impressed me as soon as I heard the first words. Harsh vocals, with clean vocal and fast, blackened guitar riffs makes me feel whole pain, which is caused by being defeated and forsaken. Emotional parts continue, when song ends with quiet guitar riffs.

The song Desolate is only song in the album with Christian lyrics. It's like reminder, which reminds that this band is Christian, they worship God, not Odin! Don't know why, but the intro reminds me intro of the Metallica's song 'Sad but True', but I like Slechtvalk version even more.

Next song, Divided by Malice has 100% epicness. It starts with keyboards and guitars making atmosphere and clean vocals, which shows pain of main hero. Then guitars start to play brutal, but very emotional riffs, vocals start to growl and then black metal rasp can be heard, which symbolizes cry of his soul, then everything becomes quiet, when by the lyrics hero is shocked and then music web casts his feelings about his vengeance.

The next two tracks, Allegiance and Enthroned aren't so remarkable, as previous one was, but are still great and nice to listen, having rasps and growls give to the songs diversity. It was great pleasure to hear little guitar solo at the end of the Allegiance. The track Bewailed, by the lyrics, returned to the Divided by Malice. In my opinion, this song has the best intro, which band could make for it. Along with clean vocals it gives visions of happiness.

The song Towards the Dawn starts with keyboards, which makes atmosphere of the epic morning, the morning, which is needed for final battle, as the song is about it. When keyboards part ends, brutal, but nice and emotional guitar riffs start, sweet as the final victory is. The greatest part of the song is boxed with lyrics:

'In the end I even experienced death...
But death could not kill me.
His cravious weapons,
I shattered on the ground,
He thought he had killed me,
But now I stand before him.
His thimbles fists, his eternal disgrace.
He is a shadow of the man he should have been.
He could not keep the one I love from me,
The bruises on her face begin to fade.
Now I have recovered what was owed.
His life will end.
So I returned!'

When the second half starts, can be felt great epicness in vocals, while guitars play quick riffs on first strum. The song Vengeance of a Scorned King is final victory of the hero, when he finds and kills his enemy. Guitars riffs remind me thrash metal, growls, rasps and clean vocals are connected with lyrics, drums make background with its fills. 100% ending song!

Slechtvalk is known as the Christian metal band, so I was expecting Christian lyrics, but in this album lyrics deal with Viking themes, like battles and war. To connect all the lyrics, we will have story of one Viking, I don't know, are all the lyrics inspired by one film, or book, but in accordance with this album, can be made great film or book, called 'A Forlorn Throne" and I'm sure I'll love it. I'm Christian and it would be better for me to hear Christian lyrics, but to create brutal Viking songs, lyrics about Vikings are needed. Besides, there are a lot of people, who do not like Christian lyrics, so it's great opportunity for Slechtvalk to gain new audience all over the world.

Many fans say, that their previous release was better than this one, but I think that 'A Forlorn Throne' is no worse. You only should listen to this album not like album by the band, who recorded 'At the Dawn of War', but like album by new promising band.

Amon Amarth meets pre-sucking Dimmu Borgir - 70%

FullMetalAttorney, January 18th, 2011

Slechtvalk is a band from the Netherlands that I discovered on the Christian metal special from The Metalcast. Of the bands I hadn't heard before, this was the one that piqued my interest the most, so I picked up A Forlorn Throne, their fourth full-length.

Slechtvalk plays a style of melodic blackened death metal culled from two of the most accessible acts out there: Dimmu Borgir (before they started sucking) and Amon Amarth. Some of the songs sound more like DB ("Bewailed") and others sound more like AA ("Divided by Malice"), but most of the tracks blend the two nicely. Some of the riffs could be straight from either band, but other times they play AA riffs in a blackened style. The vocals are mostly a capable black metal rasp, similar to Satyricon, but there are also ICS Vortex-like epic clean vocals and Amon Amarth-style death growls. They also use some understated keyboard playing for atmospheric effect. Like either of their most obvious influences, you can rarely pick the bass out in the mix, despite a clean and obviously high-quality production.

As I've come to expect from Christian metal, there's not a whole lot of dissonance to be found, making it more accessible but also less dangerous and enticing. At the same time, though, they manage to pull off a few original tricks (check "Allegiance" for one of the more interesting riffs) and the songwriting is compellingly epic. The lyrics focus on tales of battle. In other words, it's not preachy, and it's worth listening to. The album is long (just over an hour) but none of it dragged on to the point that I wished they'd just get on with it.

The Verdict: Slechtvalk has recorded a very good album in A Forlorn Throne, that should satisfy long-time metalheads looking for a Dimmu fix after losing that band to bloated egos. It should also prove a fantastic entry point into black metal for those who are just discovering the genre after moving on from the Gothenburg style.

originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/

Slechtvalk - A Forlorn Throne - 80%

ThrashManiacAYD, September 18th, 2010

My viewing quota has fallen off a cliff in recent weeks, an occurrence for which I humbly apologise, however it is with Slechtvalk and their fourth album "A Forlorn Throne", which came out in July on Whirlwind Records don't you know, that I aim to begin rectifying things. No I haven't heard of them before despite the accompanying promo information talking of past European jollies with the likes of Eluveitie, Månegarm and Skyforger, but on the basis of this strong melodically inclined black metal album I'm sure changes will soon be on the horizon for these Dutchmen.

After a few listens to this 62-minute album I have noted numerous musical resemblances from Marduk to Heidevolk, Ensiferum, Keep of Kalessin, God Dethroned, Falkenbach and Amon Amarth. Quite a party that you must agree. "Forsaken" is the album's standout track, built upon a devastating opening riff that recalls prime-time Marduk in it's intensity before switching to Amon Amarth style 'rolling' riffs as I like to call them to pretty much guarantee crippled necks at the conclusion of this one live. "Allegiance" is no less powerful; my hastily written notes for this song which start with "one fucking brilliant riff follows another" basically tell you all you need to know about this little ditty.

The vocals of Shamgar, which for the most part are a fairly typical blackened howl work excellently in the later stages with the cleaner, more epic cadence of Ohtar ("Towards the Dawn" being a prime example). Rather like past reviews of the latest Goatwhore and Destruktor albums, Slechtvalk have not provided anything brand new here but it is in the execution and conviction of the recordings that turn "A Forlorn Throne" into the success it is.

To reach this running time of 62-minutes a good number of the songs top 6 minutes where in honesty some trimming could have been beneficial, but all in all the construction of the songs is good enough to carry the thrashing blackened death metal through successfully. Given the success some of the aforementioned bands have gleaned with their own particular styles Slechtvalk should see their profile rise with this release, as frankly it is a distillation of all that is good and great about extreme metal.

Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net