Within the first few seconds of the track ‘Blood Is My Harvest’, I knew I was in for something special. Its speed and technicality reminded me of early Dillinger Escape Plan, but the vibe emerging from it was different, and that dark and malevolent ambiance could only be described as black metal. Then the vocals came in and I was surprised to discover that they had more in common with hardcore than the traditional black metal growl. ‘A Throne of Ash’ is the third album for This Gift Is A Curse, and it’s a collection of infectious, poison dripping, black metal songs that are sure to take you on a trip down to hell.
With the addition of guitarist David Deravian, This Gift Is A Curse are able to expand on the chaos of their previous albums. The guitars are a lot more defined and a nice contrast between lead and rhythm creates a new dynamic that improves the songs’ clarity. The production is also much better, making it a lot easier to pick up on all the subtleties of their sound. The track ‘Gate Dweller’ illustrates this perfectly with a guitar outro that merges perfectly with the drums’ blast beats and the intense growl of singer Jonas A. Holmberg.
My favorite track is ‘I Am Katharsis’, and it is non-stop brutality at its best. The level of intensity is set to 11 and never comes down, and truthfully, this could also be said about the entire album. With one devastating track after another, listening to the whole album can be draining. If This Gift is a Curse are trying to leave a mark on their listeners with this album, they surely succeeded. This is not an album I’ll be able to forget easily. The fact that I am drawn to it time and time again is a testimony to their craft and devotion.
The last track, called ‘Wormwood Star’, is pure black metal gold. It opens with a quiet intro that soon evolves into a ritualistic guitar-based song that will haunt your dreams for days to come. It’s slow, it’s dark and it’s definitely epic. This album is sure to get them new fans and I’m now proud to be one of them. Just make sure you are in the mood for intense occult black metal music.
The Stockholm based quintet pull no punches on this beast of an album that will reward the attentive listeners with surprises at every turn. When you think you finally understand the direction they are going for, they throw you a curve ball and keep you on your toes.