Fads within heavy metal are obviously hardly a new prospect.
However, it was about the time of DragonForce’s Inhuman Rampage album being released in 2006 that it became more prominent that metal’s burgeoning popularity was encompassing more bands with a “novelty factor”, or at the very least a distinctive marketing hook of some description. The popularity afforded the likes of Alestorm and Swashbuckle within the past year indicates this is still occurring, but American and Australian metal fans’ recent interest in bands playing a distinctly European style has justifiably also enabled the veteran likes of Amon Amarth and Children of Bodom to enjoy far higher profiles than ever before.
Perth’s Claim The Throne fuse extreme metal with folk metal and have been plying their trade since 2004. While the sound they’ve carved for themselves would be right at home at a multi-day European festival, their musicianship is accomplished, ensuring they’re likely to have some substantial shelf life once the next fad comes along and the fair-weather fans start looking elsewhere. From a stylistic and dynamics perspective, opening track proper ‘They Shall Live On’ throws everything bar the kitchen sink in (as does nearly ten minute bonus track ‘Words from the Great Oak’), then just for the hell of it adds that for good measure too. For the uninitiated or unsuspecting listener this may be too much, but sums up their musical breadth in five-and-a-half minutes. Rousing, folk-y vocal lines are counterpunched by raspy, almost blackened vocals, while death growls and blast-beats merge with tasteful guitar melodies, restrained keyboards, polka excursions and group sing-a-longs. The transitions between vastly different stylistic passages work well but don’t always flow as coherently as likely desired, but there’s enough variety and dimensions, not to mention a tangible energy and sense of engagement amid the accordions, over-the-top male vocals, serene female vocals and proudly cheesy (and surely tongue-in-cheek) lyrics.
Tracks such as ‘Through the Rage of the Storm’ exhibit the band’s chops and knack for catchy guitar licks within both the folk and metal worlds and ‘The Thousand Thunders’ ups the ante in the extremity stakes. On the flipside Triumph and Beyond boasts a hearty share of ale-stained anthems transporting you to a freezing cold European tavern, loudly bellowing along to songs about battles and booze. ‘Mystical Hermit of the Woods’, the rollicking re-recording of ‘Two Pints of Honey and a Barrel Full of Beer’ and acoustic-oriented ‘Set Sail on Ale’ get the job done in less than three minutes each.
A few of the melodies are less memorable than they ought to be, and other moments a tad too derivative but ought to be great fun live, which is ultimately where they will shine brightest. To say this is an acquired taste would be like stating that the Australian cricket team has a few minor on-field issues at the moment. Fans of the style (namely Claim The Throne’s soon-to-be Australian touring buddies Finntroll and even Turisas) will find this as satisfying as a good ol’ jug of mead though, so grab yourself a wench and get cracking.
- Conquer, Trounce, Vanquish
- They Shall Live On
- Through the Rage of the Storm
- Mystical Hermit of the Woods
- The Thousand Thunders
- Triumph and Beyond
- The Lake
- Rat Infested Hut
- Two Pints of Honey and a Barrel Full of Beer
- The Sermon
- Words from the Great Oak (Bonus Track)
- Set Sail on Ale (Bonus Track)