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The Throne of Transcendence - 95%

The Sween, December 21st, 2013

Throne of Katarsis, keeping the early Norwegian black metal torches burning.
The Three Transcendental Keys aren't representative of flickering wisps of a burning husk, nigh on extinguished from a slight breeze, these torches spark new life, a resurrection of the old and forgotten. These Three Transcendental Keys illuminate even the darkest paths, as a beacon all shall see.

Somewhere along the way, Norwegian black metal lost its way. Whether due to an over saturation of bands, and people’s first ‘go to’ bands were all of the same order, meanwhile bands from other countries were merely shelved, and eventually people were just fed up with nearly every band hailing from Norway and began to look elsewhere? Admiringly, Throne of Katarsis have now carefully crafted four full length albums since their inauguration in 2002, slowly mastering, deepening and growing their spell craft on each subsequent release to ensure Norwegian black metal should be revered once again.

As dark, dank and mysterious as catacombs and their ancient chambers, Throne of Katarsis have prepared their altar to near perfection. Each track, a key to spell tomes, woven into the dense auras created from these lengthy incantations, throw woe and anguish spiraling into the air amidst overtures of guitars, before transcending into a vast vortex of somber chants and nostalgic screams, briefly echoing amongst the rising pulse of the drums and chiming of symbols. A convoluted bass becomes whorled amongst the projections, and The Three Transcendental Keys have performed their initial duties.

Whilst this is traditional Norwegian black metal by sound and production, Throne of Katarsis excel in fusing grandeur and creativity. Sweeping guitar melodies carry the tracks from one expanse to the next, seamless and consistently imposing their malevolence.
Though even by black metal standards, tracks at 11, 15 & 20 minutes can be a burden for some, and could have easily been dissected into 6 or 7 tracks instead. Such an array of high caliber song crafting however, ensures no moment is lost during the vast expanse of conjuration and performance. Whilst this is also Throne of Katarsis’ most varied album to date, adding a slower, more dynamic level to their creations, the velocity and furious rigor still remains.

True Norwegian black metal may be a shadow of its former self, and Throne of Katarsis only add small elements of new life to the genre, but they’re reason enough to have confidence that Norway can once again be renowned for black metal, and not have to rely on those early nineties bands to hold the flame.
Not exactly groundbreaking, but this is undoubtedly Throne of Katarsis, and their Three Transcendental Keys shouldn't go unnoticed.

I hate people... I hate everyone... - 93%

BurdenEradication, December 14th, 2013

What a journey.

This is the fourth Throne of Katarsis album, and it by far transcends (no pun intended) literally every single release before it. From the first notes of the First Transcendental Key, I was totally subdued. The atmosphere created evokes an image within my mind of a cloaked figure leading me through archaic, abandoned ruins full of startling spiritual energy.

Infamroth's vocals sound better than ever on this release, and they are best noted in the first key. You will find a varied range of shrill screams and cries far more bitter and cold sounding than on any release before. There's also some of that chant-like singing, used very strongly in the first key. Vardalv's drumming smashes and carries along the entirety of the song's energy, with the guitar work elevating it to a total feeling of dark ebullience. It is the fastest track on the album, and shows the ravaging, resilient nature of the group's cold work.

The album is almost a downward progression based on speed. The second key is fairly mid-paced with lots of Infamroth's classic vocal style, while musically still maintaining the overall feel of the first key, Opening with a slow and eerie riff, the song progresses into a steady pace and relieves some of the pressure from the intensity of the first track. After completing its purpose, the second track comes to a slow, foreseen-yet-prolonged end, bringing feedback to the listener's ears, providing an image of a cave-like recording studio with fire and skulls amidst the abode, invoking a deathlike emanation.

When the third key comes along, it almost feels as though it's part of the track before it- all three keys are very interconnected and intertwined with each other. The third key picks up a bit quicker than the first, bringing it to a quick pace akin to the latter. Vardalv's drumming is what maintains this fast pace; the guitars drone on their obscure melodies, unorthodox yet mesmerizing. Infamroth's final evocative shrieks are displayed in full force in the third key. They are so fucking awesome. It's like if you were to walk by a dark forest at night, even just on its edge, and you hear the most awful sounding howls from within that seek to drive you away, as a banshee drives away its targets.

Drawing in the vitality and pulse of the speed, and the recalling of certain elements of the first key (insofar as a riff brought in by the bass but delivered in a different manner afterwards by the rest of the instruments.) It is here where the album feels like it has come full circle when the listener reaches its end, as the track ends with that feedback, prolonged to feel just as much a part of the track and album as a whole as any other part in any of the songs.

Once the journey is complete, the soul will feel light and conscious, as though it had actually just traveled up a winding staircase on the side of a mountain at night just to seek shelter and the possibility to have a fire, because you're freezing. The album cover actually depicts a great visual feel for the atmosphere of the record. It's got that "vintage, black and white" kind of feel to it, and the feelings evoked by the purple fits together nicely with the album's overall feel.

This is Throne's most different and dynamic release to date, topping all that came before it without question. The highlight track of the 3 is most definitely the first, but the entire album is, as I've stated, its own journey, and should therefore be listened to properly and in full. It is recommended to anyone interested in vintage-sounding black metal, less of the trademarked "Norwegian black metal style" (though they affiliate directly with this.) The fans of said genre may not enjoy it as much as "An Eternal Dark Horizon" per se, though they will appreciate the direction the band has took. Others into stuff such as the first Ruins of Beverast album, even groups like Mare or Celestial Bloodshed would be damn proud of this record. I know I am. Well done, Throne! My respects go to Infamroth and Vardalv for their contribution to this wondrous dark art that is Throne of Katarsis.