A Throne in Haze a World Ablaze, is the second installment by the UKs Goblinsmoker that continues the story of the Toad King and his rise. Their debut concept EP Toad King spun the story of a goblin smoking shaman calling forth the Toad King himself to smite all and bring about a reign of terror and death. Um, yeah, thats metal. Just look at the cover art, it looks like something ripped out of some Gil Kane sketchbook circa 1976. A Throne in Haze a World Ablaze lyrically, conceptually and musically picks up where Toad King left off. A bit more polished and calculated then the first EP, A Throne offers up more bone crushing riffs, story driven lyrics and slow tempos that Goblinsmoker established on Toad King.
The first track “Smoked in Darkness” sets the mood atmospherically, with a hazy, slow, stripped down, riff laden introduction that takes the listener sailing through the thick, green haze and smoke to reveal a fantastic landscape featuring the Toad King. The vocals are not what would usually be expected for the genre, the vocalist takes a very blackened approach, delivering lyrics in wild shrieks. The black metal influenced vocal style does pump some new life and fresh perspective to an otherwise often predictable genre. Sadly, black metal snarling vocals do make the lyrics nearly unintelligible. To understand the words one has to dig online to find a list of the lyrics. It seems like that is a lot to ask of a casual listener. It is a shame because it is a cool story being woven.
“Let Them Rot” predictably establishes the riff then drops the listener down unexpectedly with a surprise tempo change. Slower. Who thought that slower was possible? Although at times the EP can seem repetitive and static, an acute listener will hear dynamics shifts throughout, even if they are often at times subtle. “Let Them Rot” further proves this by kicking up the tempo to black metal speeds at the ending of the song, once again keeping the listener engaged and along for the ride.
“The Forest Mourns” draws deeply from the Sabbathian well. Thundering, powerful drums and snail paced, deliberate moves chug and churn over and over leading the listener further into the wasteland of death created by the Toad King.
In true stoner doom fashion, Goblinsmoker often hops on a riff and rides it at 2 mph until it runs out of gas. This EP has no second gear, it doesn’t need to go that fast. It is a force that moves slow but is unrelenting. It harnesses weight and power, not speed. Leave speed for the thrashers, methodical and big is what’s on tap here. The EP is like a garbage truck stuck in a snow bank that never backs up, never turns, just keeps revving its engine and pushing forward.
Part of what makes the EP in general feel so heavy and slow is the simplicity that is achieved with no lead guitar and no solos. The lack of lead guitar ramblings must be a conscience choice by the band. By avoiding the distraction of six string gymnastics the vocals are given more weight and thrust into the forefront of the sound. This does however emphasize the monotonous and mundane style of this music that may prove to be too much for some listeners. Guitar centric leads could, however, potentially leave the vocals muddled in the background, obscured by the fog of riffdom. These refined and well crafted choices are things that contribute to the bands simplicity. Perhaps elegant or honed is a better way to put it. Goblinsmoker had a clear artistic vision, they knew how to accomplish it, doom metal is just the medium they chose to express it. Take it or leave it.
Although carefully toying with convention on occasion, there is no doubt that Goblinsmoker finds its footing squarely on the genre of stoner doom. Many aspects of the album fall neatly within the genres parameters. Thick, lumbering, relentless fuzz hazed riffs, and huge punishing drums give homage to proven journeymen of the style. Fans of Monolord, Sleep, and Electric Wizard should have no problem banging their head to A Throne in Haze a World Ablaze.
- Smoked in Darkness
- Let Them Rot
- The Forest Mourns