One can’t listen to Thrawsunblat without recognizing the importance of the background of this group. Historically, the band was forged by Woods Of Ypres founder David Gold (R.I.P.) and former Woods guitarist Joel Violette. The complete current lineup of drummer Rae Amitay (Immortal Bird) and Brendan Hayter on bass (Obsidian Tongue) are also former members of Woods, so while forging their way forward as a different entity, it’s hard not to compare certain aspects of the bands sound based on this knowledge. And while the influence and presence of Gold will live on in this band, the members do their best to elevate themselves to a point that Woods had moved past in many ways with their final recordings. Bringing forth a black/extreme metal sound rooted in a folk mentality, we’re given a sometimes complex yet satisfying platter of music to dig into.
Through the six intense and long tracks contained on the band’s third full-length release “Metachthonia”, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed with the sheer scope and effort put into the songs. “Fires That Light The Earth” starts off with a beautifully somber string section, with the full band eventually continuing the melody, which abruptly switches to a full-out black metal approach. Crushing drums and bass with the layered dominance of the guitars (both riffs and lead-type deliveries) make this song a juggernaut. Pulse-pounding, emotive, and forceful in it’s presence, this song is a monster, and a perfect attention-grabber to make you take notice right out of the gate. Much of the opening track is replicated throughout this hour-long album. “She Who Names The Stars” offers a more streamlined and progressive approach than the opener, while “Hypochthonic Remnants” gives us crazy blast beats and a full-frontal assault at the beginning of the song leading into a confident mid-paced chug until a calming acoustic passage lulls us at the end. “In Mist We Walk” closes out the album with another forceful black metal pummeling to start off the song, continuing until midway through when we get an acoustic passage with clean vocals to bring down the momentum. We go back to the blast beats and punishing direction to finish off.
The band definitely pushes the boundaries of black and extreme metal with the folky influence and atmosphere befitting of the beauty displayed on the album cover with it’s starry night sky and majestic forest. While that’s a positive in many respects, one of the negatives I have with this album is that with how massive of a sound this is, and with how forceful the delivery can be, it can become a bit hard to digest everything all at once. This album takes many listens to fully appreciate the musical palate and sheer ambiance of what goes in to these compositions. It’s quite something to behold, but it can get a bit hard to take in. The other problem I have is that at times, the approach and general criteria of any one of the songs on this album can be predictable. Namely, the switching between full-out brutality, mid-paced heavy and melodic pieces, and the acoustic and somber tones that are spread out. It’s not that the band doesn’t do this well or that it isn’t executed properly, but it almost seems like you know what will happen at times before it occurs. Having said that, the band does run with the idea and flourish in it’s large, genre-defying capacity, but it’s just something I wish was a little more unexpected at times, regardless of how well the band executes it’s mission.
So while I can definitely appreciate what has gone in to making this album a momentous listen, I’m going to be honest in saying that it’s not an album that I could listen to over and over. I’m interested to see if the band moves forward from this with less predictability in sound and continues with the perfect execution of it’s delivery. That, to me, would be a winning combination.
01. Fires That Light The Earth
02. She Who Names The Stars
03. Dead Of Winter04. Hypochthonic Remnants
05. Rivers Of Underthought
06. In Mist We Walk
Playing time: 59:48
Release date: 17 June, 2016
Website: Thrawsunblat Bandcamp