Jucifer - Throned in Blood
Jucifer is easily one of the more interesting metal acts still active today. Formed in 1993, this husband-and-wife team have both toured relentlessly in the US and churned out around 10 albums and EPs in the past 17 years. Frankly, what gives them staying power is a wonderful sense of variety and experimentation, with the technical ability to back it up. The bands roots are in punk and sludge, but each album sees the introduction of much more melodic and conceptual motifs, that is, until this 2010 release. To be as forward as possible: If you like raw, evil sounding music, go buy this album, you don't even need the rest of this review. If, however, you are expecting the same kind of variety and sonic space to be found on albums like If Thine Enemy Hunger and
The production efforts on Throned in Blood make for an incredibly raw experience. Reverb and delay are hardly, if at all, used, and thus the disc sounds as if you are listening to a pre-mix recording session. Its almost a "live" quality without the atmosphere and crowd. That said, it falls flat in a few areas, most noticeably the drum kit. Crash and ride cymbals are way too loud in certain passages and make the kit sound a lot smaller that it has on previous Jucifer records. Some listeners may also find the guitar tones used to be underwhelming and sloppy, but I feel the way the guitars and bass have been recorded really serves the purpose of making this album sound as brutal and evil as possible. You can hear every little buzz, feedback squeal and speaker clip as the amps used are being abused by Valentine's death-y riffing.
The first couple of times I listened to this album, I was taken aback by the mix of styles present in its compositional elements. This is nothing new for Jucifer. (its actually the main reason why Its kind of like watching a rare and flashy martial art - you stare in confusion and awe until it knocks you flat on your ass. From one moment to the next its difficult to say what kind of music this is; It has the stop/start dynamics of grunge and indie, it had the speedy diminished riffs and double bass of death metal (minus the solos), vocals have the sickly rasp of black metal, and occasionally the tempo slows and the pentatonics come out, a la sludge. Once again, however, and very much like the production on this album, it compositional decisions can be iffy a few tracks where slower sections can sound out of place amid blast beats and tremolo picking. If nothing else, it sacrifices continuity to reinforce the brutality of the tracks, which is something you'll have to come up with your own opinion on according to your taste in heavy music.
I can honestly say this album as a whole isn't like anything Ive heard previously. It mixes enough stylistic elements to take you by surprise, ans still manage to sound absolutely evil. The vocals on this album deserve accolade for managing to sound absolutely possessed. Often they are a layering of high, female rasps and low male death growls singing the same lyrics, and in my opinion, this is an underused technique (see: Nanda Devi) I really appreciate seeing more of, as it is simply terrifying. The "live" sounding approach to recording is also appreciated because it isn't an aesthetic that a lot of musicians subscribe to. Albums in these genres are supposed to sound polished and have a massive sense of atmosphere, but Throned in Blood is a massive middle finger to those glossy approaches, and having the balls to release it as is leaves one no choice but to give this disc plenty of originality points.
In summary, this is an album that I believe will please most metal fans. If your taste in metal is for reverb-drowned, symphonic prog wankery, you are not going to find much to like here. As I said in the beginning of the review, however, if you subscribe to the more abrasive and hellish forms of heavy music, you have no excuse not to give this disc a listen. It has enough variety to stay interesting all the way through, and that special sense of raw-ness and brutality that those who actively listen to metal can't get enough of.
Composition - 8
Production - 8
Originality - 9.5
Overall - 8.5