Document of Death (Hammerheart/Martyr Music Group)

Blood Red Throne 

Document of Death (Hammerheart/Martyr Music Group)

The Scandinavian metal scene continues to evolve, even as the rest of the world continues not to notice -- outside of a minuscule underground web of fanatics who treasure their own obscurity above almost all else. The latest entry in the harder-than-you sweepstakes is Blood Red Throne, a group that incorporates some really wonderful riffage into its spraying-howitzer squalls. Document of Death starts off slowly, but suddenly locks into the extreme-metal equivalent of an honest-to-God groove, a triggered kickdrum rolling like thunder under some of the most prime headbanging guitar real estate you'll hear mapped. The vocals are incomprehensible troll-under-the-bridgeisms, but that's what lyric sheets are for.

What, then, of the lyrics? Well, they're simply horrifying and genuinely offensive: wholly misanthropic murder/torture fantasies. You'd sooner hire Eminem to baby-sit your kids than let them spend five minutes glancing over this record's lyric sheet. The unrhymed, mainly first-person narratives that vocalist Mr. Hustler delivers in his tuneless, high-volume growl are relentlessly violent, single-mindedly nihilistic tapestries of senseless gore for its own sake, with the occasional spirited call for new recruits: "Therefore I command you invigorated man/ Woman, child, and beast/Come forth!/ Become as one and join/My indisputable hordes of darkness."

Honestly, now -- breathes there a person whose inner adolescent doesn't thrill to this sort of thing? Is it great poetry? No. Should Tim Rice fear for his job as Andrew Lloyd Webber's librettist? No. But does it punch all the same buttons early Slayer albums did and give the same heady, uncomfortable adrenaline rush? You better believe it does, and when it hits its screaming pitch, in songs such as "Mary Screams of Death," the bloody photographs in the CD booklet of band members in staged post-suicide poses and the unstoppable thrashing force of the sawmill guitar will combine to give you one giant guilt-inducing wallop. Way cool.

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