Anyone who puts a sticker on the front of their album stating "Extreme Black Metal – Posers Beware" is putting themselves in the firing line in a big way. With such lofty – and arrogant – statements it puts the expectations high for some form of groundbreaking black metal that is just too good for mere mortals to even listen to.
The reality is, of course, somewhat different. Far from being groundbreaking, this is merely adequate stuff. Enthroned have been around for nearly fifteen years, still wear corpsepaint and get themselves photographed in said attire, with a deliberately grainy effect on the images just to make them look more "kvlt".
That's the other thing: changing all "u"s to "v"s, as many in the black metal scene do, as if it makes them more "trve". Quite how, or why, I really don't know. Sadly all it does is perpetuate the view of Black Metal being aloof, inward looking and unable to evolve without the nod of the "scene".
Of course, if as much time and effort had been spent on the music as had the imagery, we'd really be onto something. And while Pray is a seething rush of blastbeats, guitars and hate, and is clearly intricately produced to ensure that the drums are the forefront of the sound, and the guitars buzz like a swarm of angry bees, the preceding, sweeping intro Ingressvs Regnvm Spiritvs (those pesky "v"s in action) is far, far better. Things start slowly, with weeping choirs, before a stately rhythm is chimed out and builds gradually into a track that is full of bombast, and really should have been developed further.
As otherwise, there isn't a lot notable on show. There is lots to gawp at technically (particularly the drumming, the quickfire tempo changes, and how much of a cohesive unit the band appear to be), but not a lot that is actually worth paying attention to in terms of actual black-metal songcraft, or stuff that you haven't heard before many times over.
The one exception to this is the rampaging Through The Cortex, which quite rightly was the track that was used to promote the album in advance. Sadly, though, it really is the only thing really worth your time.
How many times have I heard this kind of thing? All "style", desperately lacking in substance.