Reviewed: [September 2019]
Released [2019 Mighty Music]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
I kinda lost track of Blood Red Throne over the years. Especially as lineup changes continued to mount, leaving guitarist Daniel “Død” Olaisen as the sole remaining original member for a stretch before drummer Freddy Bolsø rejoined in 2013. The band are on their third full-time vocalist, though Yngve “Bolt” Christiansen has stuck it out since 2011 and is now the longest serving, and have had nearly a half-dozen drummers – not counting Bolsø twice. The latest change saw Stian Gundersen come aboard on bass a year ago.
Yet despite all this, the Norwegian heavyweights soldier steadily on, carrying with them a sound that echoes their death metal-dealing neighbors from Sweden far more than the black metal favored by their fellow countrymen – even though Død previously played with Satyricon and founded the band with ex-Emperor bassist Terje Vik “Tchort” Schei, who switched to guitar. But when Tchort split in 2010, he was replaced by Ivan Gujic, who was given the nickname “Meathook,” so I guess that says something.
Anyway, Fit To Kill is the band’s ninth full-length. It certainly offers the rough-hewn sound favored by old school Swe-deathsters like Dismember, Entombed or Unleashed, but it is delivered more in the martial, bottom-heavy, grinding style of Bolt Thrower or Benediction, and bears a lot the technical flourishes that made those bands stand out.
Majestic sweeps of guitar (as at the beginning of the opener “Requiem Mass” or “InStructed InSanity”), sudden hyper-speed sprints, mammoth grooves, limber basslines and some occasionally nifty lead work (as on the regrettably titled “WhoreZone”) help spice up the steady gallop and slashing, caustic riffs that drive much of the material here. And while Bolt’s guttural, pukey vocal style recalls Chris Barnes from back in the early Cannibal Corpse days, his intermittent but persistent screams and screeches actually make a surprisingly effective “split personality” counterpart. They definitely add some character.
There’s nothing particularly new or different about Fit To Kill. But that doesn’t really matter. The band revel in their old school authenticity and deliver the goods with enough zeal and purpose to give it a certain freshness. Blood Red Throne thankfully don’t seem to be going through the motions, even after nearly 20 years of turmoil, and Fit To Kill ends up being a pretty apt title for album No. 9.