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Album Reviews : Claim The Throne – Only The Brave Return

By on November 17, 2008

From an East Coast Australian perspective, the West Australian metal scene is quite mysterious. We hear of all these quality metal bands and great underground support from metal heads around the city. But what no one has ever told us that they have Vikings! Word about this Viking assembly, known under the guise of Claim the Throne, has made its way to me, and now an album too, so let’s find out what are they like…

Musically what we have is unashamed inspiration from the folk metal scene. While listening to ‘Only the Brave Return’, I have often picked up moments that could easily appear on albums from Forefather or Ancient Rites – that’s a positive thing by the way, for its not a direct copy of said bands, rather they have recreated that same feeling and atmosphere that these quality bands before them have made. We also hear the exceedingly melodic folk aspects of Manegarm, black metal passages ala Enslaved – rich in a feeling of old world lore, and a melodic death metal underpinning approaching the ‘Dark Tranquillity’ sound.

While the band can write music per se, the album obviously proves this fact; the thing that lets them down in my book is a lack of overall song writing ability. On many occasions, the changeups in each individual song simply don’t flow easily. It’s this transitional period in the songs, when a faster opening verse or the main chorus is rapidly changed over to an acoustic interlude and entire different direction. This sudden changeup sometimes gives you the thought that your cd has skipped midway through the track.

Unfortunately this put me off a number of tracks on the album, which was a shame because when they got it right, it was fantastic. An example of them getting it right is without doubt ‘Words of the Great Oak’ (Track 7). When the only slightly too long intro makes way for some vocals to come into the song, you just know that the band has hit the mark. The ever present folk melodies on this track are at the bands finest. I have literally been humming around the place ever since I received the album to review! Not only that, but all of the best riffs the band has to offer appear here, it’s truly an excellent track.

An interesting supplement to the album in a novel written by two members of the band. While it would be harsh to evaluate it against authors like Tolkien and Feist, what the novel does do is give you a much deeper insight into the lyrics on the album. Without ruining the oft predictable storyline, the novel it is based around a city called Marisneon, and how an evil force wishes to take control of the city. Of course the leaders of the city come to the fore and journey throughout the surrounding lands on a mission to discover who has leaked the information to the evil forces that have attempted to take Marisneon by force, long with finding a cure for the ill princess.

The main negative critique I have on the book is its rushed publication. The storyline is only just passable, and would benefit greatly from a re-write which would enable the authors to inject more detailed imagery and plot, at the moment it is just all too predictable.

Even with the (in my opinion, and I’m generalising the whole album) slightly below par song writing and the album, along with the basic storyline of the novel, I found myself genuinely enjoying this album. I certainly hope the band continues with the concept of writing a book for each album, because it is a marketing drawcard and the stories I’m sure will only get better and better. Like the preface to the novel suggest, two pints of ale are recommended before you take on ‘Only the Brave Return’ for when slightly intoxicated, you will breeze over the slight downsides of an album that shows much potential. 7/10

Band: Claim The Throne
Album: Only The Brave Return
Year: 2008
Genre: Folk/Melodic Death Metal
Label: Self Released
Origin: Perth, Australia
http://www.myspace.com/claimthethrone

Track listing:
1. Amidst Evergreen
2. Hunting the Star
3. Order of the Bleeding Heart
4. Blacklore
5. Triumphant March of the Draconic Legion
6. The Wandering Minstrel
7. Words of the Great Oak (Reviewers Choice)
8. The Relic
9. The Battle for Marisneon
10. In Valour

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