08/11/2011

Review: New Risen Throne – Loneliness Of Hidden Structures

Cyclic Law, 2011


Tracklisting:

1) Lungs Into Declining Structures
2) Echoes From The Loss
3) Loneliness
4) New Risen Throne I
5) Lands Filled With Silence
6) New Risen Throne II
7) A Vision Of The Hidden
8) New Risen Throne III
9) Breath Of Growing Structures

New Risen Throne is a project that needs little introduction. It may only be five years since the name rose to prominence, with the release of the Italian project’s first real full-length, but the outstanding quality of the material, as well as a decent dose of originality, have ensured that the project’s name be among the first ones to be pronounced when discussions on quality dark ambient are brought up. This particular album is the closing chapter of a trilogy started with “Whispers Of The Approaching Wastefulness” (Cyclic Law, 2007) and subsequently continued with “Crossing The Withered Regions” (Cold Meat Industry, 2009).

I wish I could’ve used the clichéd phrase long-awaited in the previous sentence, but the album’s arrival has occurred with an almost clinical precision, exactly two and a half years after the previous one. So much for stereotypes about Italians. Strangely enough, if there’s a single adjective that can’t be slapped onto this release, it’s clinical. On the contrary, the sound featured here is as organic as it gets. The pieces have plenty of room to breathe, and they use it well. The tracks are of typical length for a dark ambient record, and so is the presentation, which is no drawback, as it fits the nature of the music – no need for reinventing the wheel when dealing with the well-established traits of the genre. Composition-wise, not much has changed compared to the previous two albums, but the same structure doesn’t imply stagnation in terms of ideas. If the first part of the trilogy was inspired by death, and the second one by languor, this one is about rebirth. Don’t expect any fanfares or harmonious melodies, though; the soundscapes portrayed may not be as bleak as before, but New Risen Throne’s grim outlook on life and all it entails is still there, only the process is reversed.

The main reason New Risen Throne’s work is so dear to my heart is that the project manages to combine all the features that make modern dark ambient (particularly Scandinavian) so great. A clear argument to this end is the fact that parts two and three of the track “New Risen Throne” are actually remixes by Northaunt and Nordvargr, respectively – each carries a clear signature from their author, yet they fit into the flow of the album ideally. The material is surprisingly diverse while decidedly sticking to the confines of New Risen Throne’s self-imposed minimalism, and a more experienced listener will easily recognise elements gladly used by other well-known artists, but skilfully blended into a homogeneous mass that grips you tight and carries you throughout the entire journey. It’s both beautiful and frightening, hypnotic and sobering, but never ever monotonous or boring. In fact, the material is slightly more dynamic than before (which is completely justified by the album’s concept), even though the occasional processed choirs and voices may seem odd at first, as they aren't really typical of New Risen Throne. I’m not too fond of the latter features in general, but for some reason, they seem to fit in well on this album; they’re kept tame and never venture over the limit of what I’d perceive as pompousness (there goes another stereotype about Italians).

Now that the trilogy has been completed, I can freely say that this album and the trilogy on the whole stand as some of the finest dark ambient releases of the past decade or so. New Risen Throne has returned to the embrace of Cyclic Law in full form, and it’s quite fascinating how the project has managed to remain fresh and inventive while retaining the same signature sound throughout the years. I know that it sounds like your typical promotional copy, but in this case, it really is true. I’m even more impressed by how well the style proposed by New Risen Throne hits the sweet spot of dark ambient, keeping a graceful balance between the melodic and the dark/oppressive sides of the genre. Definitely one (or three, if you will) for the prominent position on the shelf.

8/10