I'm on the fence about Enthroned. Being one of the most important bands from Belgium and a legend in spreading the gospel of black metal, you'd think Enthroned would be more interesting. Their first albums aren't bad and they've written the occasional glorified opus here and there, but "Pentagrammaton" is just stagnant. The band's eighth record continues the vanilla-flavored rampage that sanctifies the legacy of Enthroned and the faction's nihilistic fable once more, its stomach loaded from the voracious ingesting of demonic wails and brutal tremolo riffs that often appear in harsh black metal. Sounds awesome, right? Well, you're in for a shock: it's not.
"Pentagrammaton" sounds like shredding black metal. You know, with grunts and shrieky vocals, burning tremolo riffs, blast beats, brisk production, cracking mid-paced sections, lots of evil...you get the picture. I think it's pretty unfair to group Enthroned in this category because a lot of the riffs and ideas they use actually shift appropriately and don't engage in the norm to take up time; in fact, a lot of their material is quite enjoyable. However, Enthroned couldn't keep this release noteworthy if they used saxophones and breakdowns. Every track runs through the same postulate, and I just feel like nothing happens every time I listen to "Pentagrammaton." As I said, not bad, just really forgettable stuff. A good chunk of the record is pretty nifty though; the album's best moments come from some of the shorter songs which never run over four minutes, along with the title track and the massive "Unconscious Minds," which are both pretty good too.
Unfortunately, the rest of "Pentagrammaton" is completely insignificant. Enthroned initiates the barrage with an anticipated punch of meaty riffs and slaughtering heaviness dubbed "A Vitalized Shell," which asphyxiates the listener in Enthroned's boiling stampede. The record rolls onward into the cool "Rion Riorrim," but the infatuation is beginning to look a bit questionable. "Ornament of Grace" and "Magnvs Princeps Leopardi" are unmemorable at best, and something like "The Essential Chaos" plods on aimlessly, leaving the listener a trifle flustered regarding its blazing music and hammering brutality, which, although destructive and violent, leaves no lasting impression. Enthroned is actually a lot smarter than what I'm giving them credit for; a sizeable portion of "Pentagrammaton" isn't forgettable, but that doesn't change the fact that most of it is.
I'm not sure if Enthroned was after brownie points or what, but the lyrics are incredibly well-written and thought-provoking for the black metal theologian within us all, which I've had a larger interest in exploiting than the music of "Pentagrammaton" itself. Not to imply the record is haphazard or deserves a beating, but Enthroned has toppled this identical sound before, so there really are no excuses. At some point the release becomes too seasoned for its own good, and likewise flirts with the band's weaknesses instead of resurrecting the faulting project with memorable material. "Pentagrammaton" works for a black metal fix with the riffs and ideals to briefly satisfy the average listener, but not much else.