Upon listening to Enfeebling the Throne, the third effort from Turkish blackened death metallers Raven Woods, the overriding feeling you get is that the band lacked a sense of direction when making it. It really is a strange beast of an album, inasmuch as it sounds like two EPs sandwiched together. You can pretty much divide it into two clear sections, with the opening few songs dangerously close to simply being Behemoth facsimiles, while the latter half (excluding the instrumental outro ‘Azab-Mukkades’, which is more in keeping with the opening half) is a lot more varied.
The opening title song is a frantic burst of blackened death metal that brings to mind both Behemoth and Nile, with some technically proficient drumming and guitar work, along with the same Eastern melodies that the aforementioned bands are so well-known for. The next few tracks – ‘Breathless Solace’, ‘Ecstasy Through Carnage’, ‘Torture Palace’ and ‘Upheaven-Subterranean’ – basically all follow suit, and while each song showcases the undeniable ability of the band as musicians, the fact that they stick so unflinchingly to the same pattern in the opening half of the album does get quite tiresome.
Things then take a sudden turn somewhere in the middle of the album, at which point the band decide on a rather drastic change of tack. ‘Inward Massacre’ is markedly different from what’s gone before, and grooves along with an air of Lamb of God about it, while ‘Stay’, with its slow intro, clean vocals and breakdowns is basically a generic metalcore tune. Next up, the thrash-meets-death ‘Grey Cold Shade’ brings the brutality back, while the penultimate track, ‘The Fading Trace’, even has hints of Opeth about it (albeit a rather less elaborate version of Opeth). It really is that bizarre a mix…
While a number of tracks on the album stand out individually, most notably the last two mentioned and the title track, what Enfeebling the Throne really needs as a whole is more focus. Although the juxtaposition of these different influences may sound interesting on paper, making so many jarring musical U-turns on one record actually makes for a rather confusing listening experience. It’s a real shame though, as Raven Woods clearly have both the aggression and the technical skill to craft a much more coherent and interesting album than this.