The promo blurb promised an “evolving direction”, with “the band at their most raw and chaotic”, and “Recorded mostly live with an emphasis on crushing riffs and improvised noise”. Well, whoever wrote that certainly knew how to pique my interest, above even what it already would have been for a new Of Spire and Throne release.
Across the 64 minutes of new material we get on Penance, these six tracks are ugly and harsh. This is extreme doom with colossal riffs that drip with scorn and a malevolent sludge component that truly seeps into the core of this music like a corrupting disease.
The music has a shambolic, loose feeling that never degenerates into poor-quality dross, but rather enhances the raw, untamed nature of the sprawling songs to good effect. Simple, but very effective, the tracks on Penance are well-written, well-delivered, and well-structured, all within the malignant doom/sludge landscape that the band have torn out of the wider extreme metal environment for themselves.
The synth/electronic aspects of the music are integrated completely into the overarching framework of the songs. Apparently largely recorded live, like almost everything else here, these elements of the Of Spire & Throne sound are just as important to what the band do as the despondent guitars, underpinning bass, and earthy drums.
Penance is the sound of the world ending in a nightmare of swamping riffs and harsh apocalyptic atmosphere. Now, if that sounds appealing, then make sure Of Spire & Throne are on your Christmas list.