If there was one word to describe Claim the Throne’s Forged in Flame, it would be epic.
To describe it more fully, suggesting that it would be one of the most epic metal recordings ever produced in Australia would not be far from accurate. From the outset, the Perth quintet’s third full length album is a veritable bombastic onslaught, a relentless campaign of victorious battle metal that gives no quarter. Their days as a near-parodical cheesy folk-metal band are now apparently a distant memory; only vestiges remain of the group that once gave the world the beer-swilling ‘Ale Tunes’ as the Viking spirit of Bathory and Unleashed now inform Claim the Throne’s vision. Guitars ring and clash like battle-hardened steel delivering crushing, lightning-fast blows as a cracked and ragged voice howls and screams poetry of myth and war, and for more than an hour they offer little respite. Indeed, it can seem like a little too much. The interlude ‘In the Mist’ is barely enough time to take a breath from the ceaseless bombast of the first four songs before Claim the Throne plunges straight into the title track like a barbarian horde into a convent, feverishly despoiling everything it finds there. If a soundtrack existed for one of George R R Martin’s battle scenes, this album would be it.
While the music maintains a level of intensity that is nothing short of astonishing – and this album is seventy minutes long! – the vocals don’t always quite cut it. Brendon Capriotti goes off key more than once and on occasion it sounds like his croaky voice can’t keep up with the sweeping scale of his band’s songs but rather than detract from the performance it actually adds a more genuine feel to Claim the Throne’s seemingly tireless storming-the-walls assault. After almost an hour of histrionic war hymns, Forged in Flame then unleashes ‘In Blood be Sworn’, a tale of such magniloquent grandeur the metal gods themselves must surely be in awe. Finally, Jesse Millea’s piano solo ‘Chronicle’ closes the album like the quiet descending on a field of the dead after battle. Forged in Flame is a colossal, sweeping album of relentless, clashing epic melodic death metal and anyone who loves that sort of thing should own this.
2. The World Grows Dull
3. A Grand Destruction
5. In the Mist
6. Forged in Flame
7. Serpent and the Star
9. At the Ocean’s Edge
10. Essence of a Scorched Realm
12. Darkened Seas Collide
13. In Blood be Sworn