Throne of Chaos
Menace and Prayer


4.5
superb

Review

by Robinanimate USER (6 Reviews)
July 8th, 2013 | 4 replies | 817 views


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An overlooked Finnish melodeath gem

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Throne of Chaos is one of those bands that emerged in the wake of Children of Bodom’s success in the late 90s/early 2000s. The band released three albums before they were completely forgotten. Their fall into oblivion was evidently due to the band’s sudden change of style with a sophomore album that was more of a power/thrash metal combo and a third album that showcased progressive power metal with hints of jazz. But that does not change the fact that Throne of Chaos released a great melodeath debut. “Menace and Prayer” does not stand much back from the early works of Children of Bodom, Kalmah or Eternal Tears of Sorrow. In comparison, Throne of Chaos distinguished themselves with a blend of neoclassical keyboards, progressive metal underpinnings and details normally associated with black metal. The most captivating aspect of the album is the countless creative guitar riffs and innovative song structures and arrangements. The band could be (and has been) criticized for being too alike Children of Bodom, but when the quality and atmosphere is equal or sometimes even higher than that of the original it should be enjoyed for what it is: An awesome guitar oriented melodeath album.

1) “From Clarity to Sanity”
Within the first minute of this opener it becomes evident that Throne of Chaos is not a mere copycat band. Compared to Children of Bodom’s “Hatebreeder” (released one year before “Menace and Prayer”) the production is thicker, in particular the guitar sound. Also, the keyboard player doesn’t resort to cheesy horror clichés to the same extent (Don’t get me wrong. I love “Hatebreeder”, but am simply trying to explain the differences between the two albums.), but instead takes a more subtle approach which brings to mind both symphonic black metal veils and the keyboards of 70’s progressive rock. The opening guitar lead is very melodic, but before you get a chance to digest it a classic heavy metal riff takes over together with the vocals. That is before a galloping, harmonized guitar riff breaks in as a tip of the hat to NWOBHM. All of this happens before 60 seconds has come to pass and is a pretty good indicator as to what this album has in store. It also indicates how Throne of Chaos differed from their fellow countrymen (debut album only). Whereas Children of Bodom used to be a neoclassical power metal/melodeath hybrid, Kalmah incorporated harsher elements and atmospheres from black metal (not to a great extent of course), while Throne of Chaos leaned more towards progressive power metal. “From Clarity to Sanity” is a strong opener, but is still not the best song on the album as the band had seemingly boundless ideas to present with the following tracks. (4.5/5)

2) “The Scaffold Scenario”
The second track also starts with a very melodic guitar lead before a faster paced synchronized guitar/keyboard riff takes over. “The Scaffold Scenario” is a more straightforward song than “From Clarity to Sanity” and is the most Bodom-like song on the album. The vocal melody is very catchy and the similarity between the lead singer and Alexi Laiho becomes very evident because of it. This song is comparable to Bodom’s “Children of Decadence” with its abundance in neoclassical keyboard veils and guitar riffs. This is perhaps the most accessible song on the album and it is in danger of being too similar to Children of Bodom, but this is soon forgotten since it is a onetime occurrence on the album and the song kicks ***. (5/5)

3) “Cold Bits of Fire”
“Cold Bits of Fire” is all about the keyboards and is the most horror-inspired song on the album. It kicks off with a heavy metal riff coupled with Dario Argento-sounding keyboards. The song is similar to the opener in its progressive structure, but the vocal melody is more melodic and the chorus is especially memorable. This is one of the more progressive tracks on the album and towards its latter half the drumming especially stands out as super tight and technical. (4.5/5)

4) “Bloodstained Prophecy”
This song has the weirdest sounding intro on the album. Somehow the drums sound slightly off for a second (which they of course are not) before the guitar jumps in. After the intro the song proves to be of the straightforward kind and is perhaps one of the more anonymous on the album. The guitar riffs are abundant and interesting and the drum structures are particularly impressive on this one as well, but when the vocal lines are put next to the best songs on the album they somehow seem a bit forgettable. Instrumentally the song still rocks. (4/5)

5) “Menace and Prayer”
The title track opens in the same vein as “The Scaffold Scenario” and proves to be focused on strong vocal buildup and melodies. The song is filled with progressive details however, and therefore avoids the Bodom-like tendencies displayed on “The Scaffold Scenario”. The entire composition is colored by the rapid guitar/bass runs. These one-string guitar/bass riffs are actually one of the defining characteristics of the album, and on this particular song they really stick out. Topping it off with some amazing solos the instrumentation on “Menace and Prayer” becomes very memorable. (4/5)

6) “Synthetia”
Although Throne of Chaos already had presented a more than decent debut album with their first five tracks they saved their most epic material for last. The final three songs on the album showcase just how incredibly talented these Finnish youngsters were. “Synthetia” is every guitarist’s wet dream. It is a riff bonanza from start to end topped of with amazing solos, aggressive vocal lines and neoclassical keyboard veils and details all over the place. This song never becomes boring and stands as strong today as it did in 2000. It is simply put an awesome composition. (5/5)

7) “Opus Void”
The buildup of “Opus Void” is just as amazing as the aggressive shredding in “Synthetia”. The wall of keyboard and guitars is reminiscent of the symphonic black metalers in Twilight Ophera for a second, and then enters melodic vocal lines followed by the merging of both melody and symphonic extreme metal. About 60 seconds in the song breaks out in an awesome neoclassical riff that just won’t stop. The recurring guitar riff in “Opus Void” is one of Throne of Chaos’ finest moments and once more underlines the incredible instrumental proficiency of the band. The entire atmosphere of this song is very black metal-inspired and brings to mind the classic Old Man’s Child album “Ill-Natured Spiritual Invasion”, especially the song “Thy Serpent”. The dynamic is also noteworthy on “Opus Void” as the song blends slower melodic harmonies with full on extreme metal blast beats and covers it altogether with a layer of neoclassical details. (5/5)

8) “Divanity”
The opening to “Divanity” has a very Bodom-like quality to it that is only partly concealed throughout the song. Like “Opus Void” also “Divanity” use dynamics as its principal effect. The blend of slow paced bridges, rapid instrumental buildups followed by speed metal melodic lines make the song one of the most progressive on the album. The vocal melody isn’t the most captivating on the album, but the atmospheric end of the song does serve well as an ending to the highly creative tour de force that this album is. (4/5)

As mentioned, a few songs did home in on Children of Bodom’s territory, but taking into account that this is a debut album and that most of the material does distinguish Throne of Chaos somewhat from its peers, all is forgiven. It is understandable that the band tried to distance itself from its contemporary colleagues, but the direction they decided to take with the band was nevertheless unfortunate. To think what could have been if they had only kept on perfecting the sound from this magnificent debut. This is pure speculation of course, but they would probably have experienced similar status as Children of Bodom and Kalmah do today. At least “Menace and Prayer” is an album that many have yet to discover to this day, and in that way it may still serve as a fresh gem for those who loved and miss albums like Bodom’s “Hatebreeder”, Kalmah’s “They Will Return” or Eternal Tears of Sorrow’s “Chaotic Beauty”.

Recommended Tracks
- The Scaffold Scenario
- Synthetia
- Opus Void

Pros
- Loads of awesome guitar riffs
- Great variety and dynamics
- Excellent arrangements
- Awesome production for its time
- High replay value

Cons
- Sometimes too similar to Children of Bodom
- Kicks too much ***??? :)



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user ratings (1)
4.5
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
FrozenVain
July 8th 2013



2405 Comments


Damn! This sounds really interesting. I have never heard of this band. Really good review, man. You give enough solid background information to make this track-by-track review work fine. Can't wait to hear this. Pos'd hard.

ShadowRemains
July 8th 2013



20531 Comments


with those rec'd artists...meh

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Hawks
July 9th 2013



35603 Comments


I'd probably love this. That album art is sweet too.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

giantproof
July 30th 2013



24 Comments


I love everything Throne of Chaos did. Too bad they never got any attention. Niklas Isfeldt was even on Pervertigo.



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