The Black Death by Thomas Clifford
The Swedish blackened death metal act Throne of Heresy was formed in Ostrogothia in 2009. With their roots firmly in the underground, the band quickly built a following – especially with their lauded second album, Antioch. On November 3rd, the band releases their ambitious new concept album ‘Decameron’ through The Sign Records. The album depicts the horrors of the Black Death in the 14th century. Much like the book, it takes its name from, Decameron revolves around 10 stories, beginning with the first known victims of the plague in Asia and moving through the known world, ending on the band’s native Ostrogothian soil.
I will try to give you a brief historical context of the concept: in the 14th century, there lived a man named Giovanni Boccaccio. He wrote a book containing ten stories told over ten days by people who had fled the plague in Florence. His Decameron is mostly a fictional work, yet it begins by describing in detail the horrors that befell Florence during the Black Death. Our new album is named after Boccaccio’s Decameron, and much like the book we tell ten stories over ten tracks, all connected to the Black Death of the 14th century. Our stories, however, are rooted in historical events, ranging from the first known deaths by lake Issyk-kul in Kyrgyzystan to the aforementioned decimation of Florence and north to our own native Ostrogothian soil.
We’ve strived to create a connection between the music and the places where the stories unfold. At the centre is, of course, our own extreme metal roots, but here it is augmented with sounds and ideas that we feel create fitting atmospheres connected to the lyrical content. It is a bleak album filled with the desperation and despair of a dying world.
As for the creation of the album, we’ve worked long and hard with both the music and lyrics. Creating music and, as always, rearranging and adapting it until we are all satisfied. Then the lyric work starts, and it is a process that is both exciting and frustrating. It can even end up changing the music to some extent if the two don’t fit together.
Every track begins with a guitar foundation. It can be a simple and short idea or a longer collection of riffs that we eventually flesh out into a full song. The process is a back-and-forth kind of thing which almost always begin with TG (Tomas Göransson, guitars) writing all the riffs and adding some drums and bass to create the style or atmosphere he has in mind. We then discuss it as a group and start moulding it into a certain shape – should it be fast, slow, ambient? And so on.
For ‘Decameron’, we have tried to fit the songs in a way that the lyrical themes and the musical patterns coincide. For example, in the beginning of the album, you will perceive some more oriental touches, while at the end of the album, there is a Nordic folkish feel to the music. This follows the progression of the plague, as the lyrics capture outbreaks and events chronologically, more or less. We’ve actually ended up with less focus on guitar riffing as the foundation of the music on this album and instead taken on a more atmosphere-driven approach. We have also put much effort into the details, as we ourselves appreciate discovering new things every time you listen to an album. That’s what makes a long-lasting album, in our opinion.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2017 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.