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Review for 'Drautran - Throne of the Depths'
Listening to Drautran's Throne of the Depths feels like voyaging to an ancient kingdom on the ocean floor, being carried by furious torrents and soothing currents along the way. From the first moments of calm underwater surroundings presented within the introduction, one is already summoned in an instant right to where Drautran intended: At The Throne of the Depths. Prepare yourself, for a fair amount of sea-related puns are visible on the horizon.
Drautran are one of Germany's lesser known Black Metal acts, although this is by no means proportional to the quality of their music, or an indicator of their true importance within the scene. With what to date is their only full length album, Throne of the Depths is undeniable proof that Drautran are a force to be reckoned with, whether they decide to return to the studio to record a second album or not.
Right from the start, the listener is greeted with a lenghtly introduction composed of the unmistakable bubbling sounds of calm and mysterious watery depths, gradually incorporating some acoustic guitars, dreamy keyboards and some clean vocals in their native German that set the mood perfectly for the journey ahead.
A more typical analogy would be describing it as the calm before the storm. Not a second too early, but not a second too late either, the first waves of electric guitars begin to surface, and with this gradual increase in heavyness Drautran prove early on that they know exactly how to transmit the desired oceanic atmosphere. This calmness is a little deceiving, but in a good way, as the aforementioned storm literally comes out of fucking nowhere, taking over the listeners imagination with a full blown maelstrom of furious guitars and relentless drumming, giving a true sense of majesty to the whole album. From this moment onwards, it's a brilliant adventure with each song complimenting the previous one perfectly, with some abrupt changes in rhythm thrown in so you don't forget to breathe.
Don't be put off by these drastic changes in tempo, as the mood set by the intro is not lost for a second over the duration of Throne of the Depths, however intense the songs may get at times, with calm interludes, keyboards, acoustic guitars, and both male and female clean vocals of all variations making welcome returns throughout. One notable track is "Styrt Ned I Mælstraumen", the album's eye of the storm so to say, and it is a fully instrumental track composed entirely of these aforementioned non-metal elements. Another refreshing aspect about Throne of the Depths that sets it apart from the rest of the genre is Drautran's approach to singing, with vocal duties being passed back and forth between their two singers, Thamuz and Blutaar, giving an almost operatic effect, and also frequently singing in unison taking the epic feeling one step further.
For all the albums magnificient details and ambience, the real driving force behind Throne of the Depths are the guitars themselves, with some amazing riffs that blend perfectly with the atmosphere, right up to the album's closer "Gen Niflheim". To paraphrase the internet when regarding something that is excellent beyond belief, "words cannot describe the awesome".
While Black Metal's roots lie mostly within hatred, darkness, misanthropy or the occult, Drautran prove that Black Metal and more specifically Pagan Black Metal can at times, without sacrificing any of the aggression, turn into something truly beautiful and inspirational.
What other albums sound similar to this?
Unfortunately, this remains Drautran's only full length album released to date, although they did release an excellent demo in 2000 titled Unter Dem Banner Der Nordwinde which features all the same elements presented on Throne of the Depths, and is definately worth checking out. When it comes to recommending similar albums from other bands, we have yet to come across another album which transmits the same sense of oceanic majesty as Throne of the Depths does, although Lunar Aurora's magnificent Andacht does come close at times, as do Immortal's At The Heart Of Winter, Geïst's Galeere, and Árstíðir Lífsins' latest masterpiece Vápna Lækjar Eldr.
Dutch Epic Black Metal band Carach Angren seem to theme their music entirely around ships and the high seas, although their in-your-face keyboard-saturated melodies are a far cry from Drautran's subtle orchestrations, but if you aren't too bothered by seaside shenanigans, be sure to check out recent albums by Lunar Aurora, Drudkh, Helrunar, Negură Bunget, Taake, Belenos, Nargaroth, Odal, Kermania, Graveland, Wodensthrone, some of Burzum's later albums, Emperor (whose influence is unsuprisingly abundant) and even early Dimmu Borgir.
In a nutshell...
Drautran's Throne of the Depths is one of the most amazing Black Metal albums ever recorded, with just the right balance of melody and aggressiveness, some of the most ingenious songwriting imaginable, and last but not least an overwhelming sense of underwater epicness which all combines together flawlessly to make it a unique masterpiece.
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