Recorded throughout 2021. Thanks to Nick Nativo at the Nook Recording Studio. Mixed by Lukas Roth at Lukas Roth Sounds. Additional tracking and editing by CJ Rayson. Mastered by V. Santura at Woodshed Studios, Germany. Album cover by Mark Erskine; additional design work by Chris Petkus. Released on Stormspell Records on Tuesday 12 July 2022.
For fans of Heathen, Symphony X, Paladin.
Definition: Sibylline—adjective (literary) relating to or characteristic of a sibyl; prophetic and mysterious.
The Sybilline Age is the debut album from northwest Indiana thrash/progressive/power metal band Idol Throne. Formed by guitarists Jason Schultz and Martin Bowman in 2018, Idol Throne combine influences from US power metal, Bay-Area thrash, neoclassical and traditional heavy metal and 1990s progressive metal with a strong focus on melody and tight songwriting.
The result is a collection of songs that to my ear takes me back to the thrash and power metal heydays of the mid-80s. Perhaps that is what the album title is referring to, because today it feels neither prophetic nor mysterious, but derivitive and a little predictable. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. In some ways this feels like the ‘comfort food’ of metal. Sometimes you just need to lay off the complex synchopation of Meshuggah and Gojira or the half-screamed vocals of metalcore and enjoy the tight melodic heavy metal of bands like Idol Throne.
Production-wise and songwriting-wise, this reminds me of so many Christian metal bands from the mid-80s. It’s not the best, it lacks somewhat in certain frequencies but that certainly gives the release a particular audible ‘flavour’.
The album opens atmospherically with the sound of fire and a mediaeval-sounding guitar passage (not that they had guitars in the middle ages, but you know what I mean). It’s pretty and harks back to those epic thrash albums that always featured a short, acoustic track (Exodus, Sepultura, I’m looking at you).
“Unholy warrior” (track 2) kicks off in classic thrash style with a galloping riff and blood curdling scream. This is old-school thrash at its finest… just, maybe 35 years too late.
“The Sibylline Age” highlights the diverse sound and range of the band. From fierce thrash (“Unholy Warrior”, “Crown of Fools”) to blasts of aggressive power and old-school melody (“The Labyrinth”, “Power and Control”, “White Wolf”), the album covers a broad spectrum of sounds and paints on a wide sonic palette. Dynamic mid-album instrumental “Last Full Measure” and closing mini epic “The Sibylline Age” bristle and morph with progressive, ever-changing structures while “Raven’s Blade” explores the more theatrical and technical side of the band.Press release
Theatrical, technical, passionate, soaring guitar solos, triumphant cadences, Idol Throne throw everything at this album. That’s the thing with this album—it has its flaws, but it’s good. It sounds like a new band finding their voice. It’s not particularly prophetic, it doesn’t push the boundaries of metal, but it is fun and enjoyable. And some days you need that.
Review score: 70%
Zach at MDPR contacted me inviting me to preview Idol Throne forthcoming album, which I was delighted about. I have no connections to either MDPR or Idol Throne. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Zach from MDPR, and to Idol Throne for continuing to create fresh new music.