Reviewed [April 2021]
Released [2021 Redefining Darkness Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Michigan’s Throne set the bar pretty high for themselves with their debut EP Altar of The Dying in 2018, a savage bit of blackened tech-death that seemingly came out of nowhere but definitely left its mark. Two years on and their first full Pestilent Dawn proves that was no fluke.
Pestilent Dawn takes what made Altar such an attention-getter and builds it into something even more impressive and exhilarating. Offering technical flare to rival that of Hate Eternal, humongous riffs that drown you in a cascade of heaviness and agile, stampeding tempos powered by Kollin Perpignani’s .50-caliber drumming, Dawn is statement-making effort to be sure.
At 31 minutes, Dawn is only 7 minutes longer than the EP, as the band keep things short and sweet. Three of the 10 tracks here, though, are brief instrumentals – the intro, aptly title “Intro,” the acoustic segue “Eternity In Mourning” and electronic/torture chamber mashup “Humanity’s Dusk” that closes things out in a wash of agonized wails – which seems like a bit of a waste on such a tidy package. But since nearly all the material is pure gold, that’s a minor nit to pick.
“Intro” gets things suitably warmed up, as the instruments kick in, the intensity rises and guitarist/vocalist Nathan Barnes – ex-of Sunlight’s Bane and Winterus – unleashes a tonsil-shredding scream to shake things loose before a pukey death grunt and fusillade of double-bass from Perpignani kick-start “Amongst The Sinners, They Came Forth” and its headlong into chaos.
The back-to-back salvo of the title track and “Born Of Death” offer hints of Dark Funeraly black metal with their furious trem cascades, while “Beyond Malice” takes a more death-core turn with the guttural guest vocals of Recorruptor’s Clint Franklin countering Barnes’ shrieks. More guest vocals await on “All Creation Wept” from Morta Skuld’s David Gregor, but you’ll barely notice given the surging grooves and quick-cut riffs that drive the tune with Cannibal Corpse/Hate Eternal-like authority.
For as fast and furious as Dawn is, it’s also heavy as hell thanks to the determined, assertive guitaring of Barnes and Joseph Kesslering – whose lead work here is spectacular and surprisingly elegant – and some absolutely crushing production. The sound here is massive and the band takes advantage by not over-complicating the arrangements or performances, ably balancing complexity with sheer bombast.
They do go overboard with the Zakk Wylde-like guitar squeals on “Amongst The Sinners …,” but again, a minor issue that is easy to overlook given how resounding and impressive Dawn is otherwise.