I’ve been feeling some déjà vu lately at The Sleeping Shaman, as some bands I reviewed when I first started writing for these hallowed pages are now releasing new records, thus warping my sense of time even more, if that’s even possible during the last few years of the Covid era. First, was the new record from Kadabra, who I reviewed early on in my Shaman tenure, and now we have the new record, Thrones, from Los Angeles’ Deathchant, whose album Waste was my tenth review.
I enjoyed Waste quite a bit and was excited to see where they would take their brand of chugging heavy rock and roll. Thrones provides plenty of what we’ve come to expect from Deathchant as opener Canyon displays vocalist/guitarist T.J. Lemieux and guitarist Doug Stuckey’s knack for crafting impeccable Thin Lizzy-esque guitar harmonies that weave back and forth without losing one iota of heaviness or impact.
The title track, Thrones, keeps the energy flowing as the thrust and attack is balanced by the ever present melodic, lead work. However, it unveils many layers as the band drop into a slower tempo, crushing, riff break down to bring it to its conclusion. Lead single Mirrors, puts on a clinic in dueling lead and charging proto-metal, with Lemieux’s slightly distorted vocals offering a sense of danger.
It’s on the next number, Mother Mary, where Thrones presents some different sounds that were only hinted at on their previous works with its killer, tripped-out, psychedelic sonic journey that is sequenced perfectly after the bombast of the first three tracks. Meanwhile, Chariot gets back on the Lizzy course with another driving, melodic rocker that is anchored by bassist George Camacho’s rock-solid groove.
a clinic in dueling lead and charging proto-metal…
One of my favorites on Thrones is the menacing, nasty, fuzzy, riffage of Hoax, wherein Deathchant sound an awful lot like the now-defunct, early ‘00s bay-area riff-wielders Saviours, particularly Lemieux’s vocals as he sounds eerily similar to Austin Barber, so much so, as I was absorbing Thrones, I had to double check that Barber hadn’t joined them and I had somehow missed the announcement. To put it bluntly, Hoax fucking rips as there’s plenty of chugging, malevolent riffing, as well as tons of wicked shred, backed by the thudding low-end of the rhythm section.
The album then circles back to the psychedelic vibe on Mother Mary with another track I found myself hitting ‘repeat’ on with the spacey and melodic Earth, one of the crown jewels of Thrones. It features spectacular lyrics, delivered with a hint of sorrow, as well as plenty of sublime guitar work that unveils new sounds and nuances with each listen. Both Mother Mary and Earth showcase the band’s growth in the songwriting department.
Thrones comes to its conclusion with the massive epic Tomb in which the band pound the listener with some huge, crawling riffage, before launching into an aggressive, ripping attack that forms the main body of the song. But just when the listener thinks the record will finish in this manner, they drop back into the aforementioned massive riffs and bring the album to its close.
Deathchant have shown that they are not content to just proffer the same sounds as they showcase plenty of new dynamics with the slower, psychedelic material, to say nothing of Lemieux’s vocal delivery that in places had me conjuring my aural comparisons to Saviours. Nonetheless, it’s an outstanding record, front to back, packed with riffs, dueling leads, a boss rhythm section, and plenty of wizard-level shred that will have many reviewers like myself wondering how and where it will fit on the already-packed, year-end list.
Scribed by: Martin Williams