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Not Smiley Thrash, Not Gruesome Black (But Wicked) - 82%

Skarnek, November 28th, 2012

Years have gone by since I was a late teen and on my "black-metal-and-everything-to-do-with-it" kick, yet somehow my obsessive mitts never got a copy of this album. Why? Was it because I was too busy with the main bands within the genre? Was it because I only had room for one "supergroup" at a time (Borknagar and Covenant being my personal favorites), thus missing out on Susperia somewhere in the transition from novelty to reverence? Well, whatever the case; I now know that I was missing out.

Now, let's not go on expecting me to gush endlessly about the who's who of this release, or how damn excited I am to hear all of this come together so coherently. I mean- that's already a given from the sticker on the case proclaiming that members of Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon, and Old Man's Child are doin' their thing. They do it well, too. I will go on about what the listener will be in for, given they choose to seek this one out. There's a whole lot of nothing new, yet done in unique ways. Sounds like it makes no sense, and I would understand that sentiment. Allow me to spread this sheet a little smoother.

The members of Susperia are all very proficient in black metal, some even being very seasoned performers already. There just so happens to be a gargantuan amount of black metal vibe going on here. The thing is, it's more like taking third-wave corpsepainters, taking the focus off of keyboards, and making them sit in a room with nothing but a stereo full of Testament albums. This is not to imply that there is no blast beats. There are very nice, clean, blasts executed nicely by the somewhat infamous Tjodalv. There's not, however, a bunch of gruff, melodic shouting ala-thrash metal (the cleans lie solely in strange, trancey, chanted tones, some 30% of the time or so), over-focus on "Lombardo beat" urgency, or too much beer-drinking thrash fun. The black metal tendencies quash the happy, party vibe that most thrash bands seem to always turn me off with. But- when one hears the first few riffs of Predominance, it's undeniable that killer thrash riffing is key to what separates this band from the spacey Covenant (or, The Kovenant), or the organically beautiful Borknagar.

The primary vocals are in a very Shagrath (ala "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant"-era) register, which works perfectly for this particular mix. The rhythm section is almost playfully tight, varying things to an almost progressive metal level, yet never giving one the uncontrollable urge to sigh heavily or roll the eyes. The occasional surprise pops up; a tech-ey synth here, a pseudo-King Diamond wail there, a harmonic-infused chug riff that wouldn't be out of place on a Machine Head album, etc. It's all wrapped up fairly nicely, and where some of the mild experimental aspects seem weak, they don't last long, being stamped out by a much stronger nugget almost as soon as we notice it. This is high quality black thrash metal.