Carpathian Forest - _Defending the Throne of Evil_
(Season of Mist, 2003)
by: James Montague (
Towards the end of the 1990s, as most of the Norwegian black metal scene were busy diluting their own essence with modern electronics, disco beats, Barbie dolls and whatever other un-kvlt stuff came their way, Carpathian Forest maintained their dignity as one of the few remaining devotees to old-school ethics. So naturally, I was quick to snap up their latest offering when it hit the shelves a few months ago.There was a catch, though -- the marvellous anti-evolutionary albums _Black Shining Leather_ and _Strange Old Brew_, though released in 1998 and 2000 respectively, consisted of old material dating as far back as 1991. _Defending the Throne of Evil_ is a 21st century affair, and the scene is a lot different these days. As soon as the opener, "It's Darker Than You Think", burst out of the blocks in a flurry of blast beats and bombastic keyboards, the alarm bells went off in my cranium. Suddenly my trusty old Rambler had power steering, anti-lock braking and comfy velour seating. I wasn't sure I could live with this, but I gave it a test drive anyway.The result? It functions correctly, but it's not the bone this old dog likes to chew on. The band plays solid and brutal black/death metal at a medium-fast pace, without too many blast beats, and have certainly retained their sense of humour with their OTT band pics and song titles like "Put to Sleep Like a Sick Animal!!!" and "Christian Incoherent Drivel". But these few small rewards come at a cost. Like so many of their compatriots these days, the band simply tries to do too much, too quickly. The songs all race along with one forgettable riff after another, weakened by the band's newfound appreciation of keyboards that provide nothing but constant irritation in the background. Terrorizer Magazine defends the turn towards ubiquitous keyboard usage, stating that "before the purists get out the lynching ropes it should be pointed out that said key-work is very much of the fill out the sound variety...". Well, this purist must ask the question "Why bother at all, then?"See, this is the problem with Carpathian Forest attempting an album like this. The band has always had limited talent, but operated so well within these restrictions with their catchy arrangements and true spirit. When a band like this attempts to "fill out their sound", buoyed by an over-professional sound, they only succeed in pointing out their own deficiencies. Unfortunately, Carpathian Forest have tried to do too much in too small a space, and now they too have diluted their essence.
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