Vacant Throne - Fall of the feathered king 4/5

Reviewed: 9-1-12


1. Summon the gods
2. The jaguar knight
3. Sacrificial prisoner
4. Harsh empire
5. Burning skies
6. Voyage to the new world
7. The return of quetzalcoatl
8. Fall of the feathered king
9. Genocide

The debut full-length CD from the Denver heavy metal band is a fantastic, tightly written concept album about the Spanish conquering the Aztec culture. The band’s musical style is real heavy metal, no subgenre, with a sound that will appeal to fans of Judas Priest, Saxon, and Queensryche at their most direct, and which to me is greatly reminiscent of more osbcure classics like Liege Lord’s ‘Burn to my touch’, Lethal’s ‘Programmed’, and Hellion’s ‘The black book’.

First and foremost, the songs on the CD are memorable and wonderfully composed. The opening track “The jaguar knight” (after the instrumental intro "Summon the gods") is ultra-straightforward metal riffing and a wonderfully direct and catchy chorus, while “Voyage to the new world” incorporates a jazz influenced rhythm, and the CD’s closer “Genocide”, probably my favorite on the CD, is an epic requiem to the conquered and brutal civilization. The lyrics are outstanding, and those who take the time to read and really listen to them will get a detailed story of human sacrifice, multiple empires, and bloody wars, which are historic... and still totally metal.

Vocalist Jason Mortensen is polished and does a great job carving out his own sound while carrying the songs perfectly with a strong middle range, and lead guitarist Josh Mortensen works with rhythm guitarist Chris Mauro to provide a dazzling collection of pure metal leads and tight, crunchy riffs. Frank Candelario on drums and Reginald Handy on bass provide a strong, driving rhythm section, and, as noted above, are able to take on a different feel for some of the songs. The production is very good for a first CD, erring on the side of crisp metal feeling, and would certainly have favorably compared with great metal CDs of the 80s.

Colorado has always had a strong place in the fans of metal, from the best known power metal sons of Jag Panzer and their progeny, to bands like Leviathan, Karen Kenedy, and Silencer. Vacant Throne stakes out an admirable place in that lineage, and fans of well written, classic heavy metal, especially with intelligent and engaging lyrics, should not miss this debut.




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