Genre: Symphonic Black / Death Metal
Label: M-Theory Audio
I hadn’t realized that Hecate Enthroned take such big breaks between their albums, as it has already been five years since “Virulent Rapture”, and before that, they had released “Redimus” (an album that I haven’t listened yet to this day) way back in 2004. The band has also had frequent line-up changes and 2019 finds them with a new vocalist named Joe Stamps, who replaced their previous and short-lived vocalist Elliot Beaver, who stayed in the band for a couple of years only.
Their latest album “Embrace of the Godless Aeon” is subject to a couple of more big differences: M-Theory Audio is the new label, and Sarah Jezebel Deva was recruited for thefemale vocals (long guest musician for Cradle of Filth, with solo releases as well). This hint also suggests how Cradle of Filth might have fortunately ended up if they had decided against making a fortune and becoming empty and famous. As Hecate Enthroned have a big history around symphonic black / death metal, with some classic releases in the nineties, their activities should always be kept under watch, being a 25-year old band now.
“Embrace of the Godless Aeon” has nine tracks and an attractive cover art, at least more appealing than the cover of their previous record. It is abundant of synths, background symphonic lines, a lot of clean piano, which are for the most part of the record, in the front line of the compositions, leaving the guitars in second place. One would have to listen carefully to discover the few good guitar riffs that exist, since the orchestral parts are so dominating. The atmosphere is built up right away from the short introduction, while the main body of the record consists of a handful of darker, ominous moments, and a bunch of melody-fueled, symphonic black metal parts that are very characteristic of the genre. The band is moving in safe paths with this record, but the album is more or less well composed.
The new vocalist has a decent voice, with classic black metal shrieks switching with growls at times, and it works well when it’s combined with Sarah’s vocals (for example in “Goddess of Dark Misfits”). As a standalone voice, I was kind of underwhelmed by the performance, as it is fairly flat and repetitive to my ears. At some points, the record reaches high levels of symphonic extreme metal quality, especially at the grandiose closing track “Erebus and Terror”, where all of the band’s weapons are in full force. I also enjoyed “Silent Conversations with Distant Stars” and the promo track “Temples That Breathe”, but when guitars take hold, like in some parts in “Enthrallment”, the melodies are not that effective (the song has a great ending though).
Often in the album, there are clean, atmospheric piano parts, which almost remind of gothic metal, which is also not my cup of tea at all. I have to give to the band that they have composed the tracks well, and all of these ideas at least blend nicely. As a whole, I will keep “Embrace of the Godless Aeon” as a record with good parts and some weak moments, but it is not below average at any point. Hecate Enthroned are on track.