Beyond The Crimson Throne
There was a time in the late 1980s/early 1990s I would jump in the car and make the road trip an hour and a half east to Cincinnati to catch some punk, metal or hard rock band at some dive in the Corryville neighborhood or down by the river. My friends and I would spend the hot summer nights in a smoke-filled club to give support to some of the great bands that, in theory, had the same plangency as the Indy rock scene. It’s not that Indianapolis was lacking quality entertainment; it just meant that Cincinnati had just as viable of a scene.
Blessed Black reminds me of those days. Yet while having the sound and cadence as those bands, their music is in the present. You are not sure what you are getting yourself into with “White Wolf,” an instrumental to launch their debut. It’s a lead in to “The Black Gate” and that song alone is crystal. The coarseness in the guitar, that deep tuning in the riffs, this is rock at its purist. I am just scratching the surface. When we get to the chorus, Joshua Murphy’s voice sounds like gale force winds coming at you. It leaves you wide-eyed only to transform into a righteous solo from Chris Emerson. These are the things you come to expect in a solid rock song, yet Blessed Black manages to take you by surprise.
What you first mentally solidify is that the band has a strong foundation, taking control of any tempo and giving it a massive amount of weight. Drummer Ray Bates and bassist Brad Bellamy complement each other in that they sound like an army, and “Heavy Is The Crown” is the strike.
You have to clear the smoke and wade through the metal sludge of “The Shadows;” its toxic depths will send you to another reality. And if you think it is not thick enough, “Stormbringer” is the exodus you hope for in an album: strong, sustainable and expressive. Murphy and the guys give us something mighty. And with Brian “Bone” Thorburn’s production work, he brings out the best in what this band is capable of.
Just that, it is over. What did I just experience? Could a band like this take metal in the Ohio Valley to a new level?
For a debut album, I am beyond impressed. Beyond the Crimson Throne is a solid adventure into metal forray that will delight the doom fans with their chunky riffs and melt the minds of all other rock fans with their exalted choruses and dynamic solos.