01. Throned in Blood
03. Work Will Make Us Free
04. Return of the Native
05. Disciples of an Expanding Sun
08. Good Provider
09. Spoils to the Conqueror
For years the dichotomy between the recorded output and live sound of Jucifer has been extreme. The former has featured a unique collection of everything from grunge, melodic rock, and even folk to supplement the band's predominately sludge-based sound. The latter, however, evolved into quite possibly the loudest act existing on a DIY scale -- Amber Valentine typically plays with over a dozen guitar and bass cabinets -- and is dominated by the monolithic weight of the emanated pressure, recklessly careening from chaotic blasts to atonal walls of sound. It's raw, damaging, and neurotic in the best ways possible. And it is with that in mind that after many years of existence the duo has crafted their first record that aims to create the mentality with which they take the stage, thus reconnecting the two previously divergent pieces of the band's sound.
In that respect, Jucifer has definitely succeeded, as Throned in Blood is stripped down to the max on all fronts. The record was tracked live in an old barn, with the rawest elements -- feedbacking guitars, slight tempo changes, amplifier hiss, Valentine's maniacal screams -- sitting front and center. Many of the faster tracks ("Good Provider," "Contempt") are not unlike those of the output from early grindcore pioneers Napalm Death and Carcass; the exact instrumentation may vary, but the pure anger embedded in the abrasiveness of the recordings is dead-on. Other tracks like "Hiroshima" and "Return of the Native" drone on with a Sleep-like sludge backbone, anchored by down-tempo riffs and punishing drumming. And in staying true to form, the pair didn't fail to pass up the opportunity for songwriting variety, and thus slipped in a solo banjo-based track to close the record.
Some will argue that this sounds marginally better than a rough demo or a live recording tracked off of a cheap soundboard, but there is a certain charm to be found in this record. There is very little melody, but when it does show up -- "Spoils to the Conqueror" eventually locks into a relatively catchy riff (given the context) with a rare clean singing experience -- it becomes oddly memorable.
I understand what they've created here, and why they went ahead and did it. The sonic qualities of this recording are definitely more abrasive and jarring than those produced by any number of younger bands creating "brutality" by tracking blast beats and bass drops in Pro Tools equipped studios. But I still wouldn't label this as quintessential Jucifer by any means, as I imagine that the listening base that appreciated such eclectic gems as I Name You Destroyer, If Thine Enemy Hunger, and L'Autrichienne wouldn't necessarily have that strong of an overlap with the atonal chaos offered here. But I'd also be lying if I said that wasn't part of this record's appeal. Jucifer has proven again and again that they will continue to record whatever they want and there is certainly something gratifying about that. So sure, this is definitely a rough record. And yes, by linking the two halves of the band's persona in recordings, the waters are only muddied further. But I'm okay with that.
Bottom Line: Throned in Blood is the record that Jucifer's live show deserves, as it is every bit as destructive, raw, and forceful as the band's monolithic wall of sound. It doesn't necessarily stack up that well against the band's previous full-lengths, but in its own odd way, feels like the proper addition to the band's already adventurous discography.