Review: Throaat – Reflections in Darkness

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Label: Dying Victims Productions

After honing their craft on a series of EPs and a split release, New York black metal duo Throaat have unleashed their debut album, Reflections in Darkness, and it’s been worth the wait. The experience and confidence the band have gained over the past years are clearly on display, making Reflections in Darkness an eclectic listen that pulls inspiration from many different aspects of metal; yet one that also feels like a cohesive whole, driven forward by a strong vision and aim. As such, the album is one that has a lot to offer, and never feels constrained by genre or style, free to move in whatever direction it so chooses.

A solid backbone of blackened thrash and raw, first wave black metal forms the core of Reflections in Darkness, as the songs move with an energy and violence that is both sinister, and highly enjoyable. There’s also a strong appreciation for classic heavy metal throughout, with plenty of guitar movements and fast melodies that wouldn’t feel out of place if the popped up on some long-last NWOBHM treasure. The way that Throaats merge the two styles together is practically seamless, and evidence of the time and care that has been put in to crafting these songs.

It’s not all about speed though, with ‘Radiation’ being a more mid-tempo affair for its first half that gives the listener a chance to catch their breath, and helps to stop the album collapsing under the weight of its own intensity and naked aggression; though the later section of the song, when the pace picks up, is a real rush of adrenaline, and a prime example of how important and effective contrast can be. The sinister opening to ‘The Bells of Newcastle upon Tyne’ is also a high point of Reflections in Darkness, summoning the same kinds of spirits that haunted De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas without really sounding at all like that classic album. It’s also a song that demonstrates just how powerful a few well-placed keyboard lines can be, using the synths with restraint to get the maximum effect from them.

The overall impression of Reflections in Darkness though is that it’s an album which, whilst undeniably dark and morbid, is also one that is highly enjoyable. The energy that races through the album is infectious, and the raw power mixed in with the sheer enthusiasm of classic metal is a potent combination. It’s an album that is easily to leave on for repeated plays at a time without it risking feeling like it has over-stayed its welcome. And more impressively than that, it also feels as if Throaats have managed to record something distinctive with their own character that pulls from a multitude of sources, but the end result is that it, on the whole, Reflections in Darkness sounds like a band unafraid to put across their own sound and identity. In the crowded scene of modern black metal, that is vitally important, and high praise indeed.

Reflections in Darkness is available via Bandcamp digitally, on CD, cassette, and vinyl; and also via the Dying Victims webstore.

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