Enthroned - _Xes Haereticum_
(Napalm Records, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (
Maybe it's a case of bad timing. After all, in my mind, it was always going to be an uphill battle for any black metal act to out-grim the latest Marduk opus. But then again, Enthroned have never been ones to stand out as anything truly memorable throughout the course of their decade-plus career, and so to call _Xes Haereticum_ an improvement over past attempts isn't saying much. Truthfully though, _Xes Haereticum_ is actually a vast step over the likes of _Carnage in the Worlds Beyond_ and _Armored Bestial Hell_ -- not only in its more biting production, but also in terms of songwriting. "Last Will" and "Vortex of Confusion" as key examples, are hardly the pointless exercises in poker-faced cacophony that this band has become known for -- and anyone who is capable of invoking the sense of sheer pitch darkness and claustrophobia that "A.M.S.G" does deserves kudos in my book. But ultimately, _Xes Haereticum_ proves little else than that a few interesting melodies and a hint of producer's polish do not essential black metal create. For the most part, Enthroned at their best remain soporific. Now, where did I put that copy of _Plague Angel_?
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