Thou – Tyrant

Thou.  A good name for a band like this.  Singular, impersonal, archaic, and vast.  Exactly the sort of one-syllable utterance that you want representing monolithic dirges of sludge-driven, drone-infused, ambient-laced heavy metal that implant themselves in your mind with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the left temple.  In the spirit of newer sludge/doom artists like Minsk, Thou’s style of music is a blend of Isis-style post-metal leanings alongside black and misanthropic tides of Goatsblood-inspired cruelty.  The result of this combination is almost something out of an early Type O Negative album in structure: great, vast soundscapes of ugliness and misery broken up by sharp, aching fragments of beauty and melody that are starkly reflected by how barren the rest of the music is before being smashed to glittering pieces by the barbaric hammers of power chords, thundering war drums, and throat-searing screeches that would make Mayhem fans cower.  And really, who can’t get behind that?

All hideous pretense aside, though, this is really good.  As previously stated, this is a pretty solid blend of the more melodic and more hateful breeds of sludge, not at all unlike Pelican meets Buzzov*en or something.  It’s refreshingly devoid of stoner leanings; not that those are bad, but they wouldn’t fit here.  There’s no stoner groove to this music, nor any of the simple catchiness that you’d find in a Sleep album.  Similarly, there’s none of the hardcore leanings of a NOLA sludge band either; it’s not music for Crowbar fans, really.  If you dig a lot of the stuff coming out on Southern Lord lately, though (that is, you dig the music and not just thirty different colors of vinyl), you’ll probably appreciate this.  Thou manages to fuse the bleakness of bands like Winter with highly melodic, shimmering passages that benefit from the almost unbearable tension produced by almost agonizingly slow, thunderous chords and vitriolic screams.  It doesn’t ever go completely into Pelican territory and clean itself up; there’s no clean vocal passages or particularly happy sounds (apart from some of the uplifting riffs at the end of ‘I Was Ignored.  And Judged.  And Cast Down.’), and there’s far more Khanate-derived plod than there is airy lead guitar.

A comparison to Goatsblood is pretty apt in some of the more minimal sections, with a similarly tortured and obscure tone emerging from the murky riffing that dominates this LP.  While Thou lacks that band’s propensity to grind, they do have some more uptempo passages from time to time, though they never really claw their way past ‘moderately quick’ and up to Dragonforce levels of alacrity.  It does add a bit of variation to otherwise still compositions, though, and probably goes far to make this mostly uncompromising music more digestible to the unseasoned doom listener.  And this is a doom album, there’s no way to deny that; beyond Black Sabbath or Candlemass, this is essentially the essence of modern sludge/doom, and if you dig that style, you’ll love this.  It’s not at all surprising that this LP is getting repressed by Southern Lord; it fits right in with their roster of slow’n’low artists.  It’s just that Thou is better than almost all of them.

In short: excellent sludge/doom that any fan of the genre would be encouraged to give a listen, particularly for those who like the modern breed of the style.  If you love Minsk and other blenders of majesty and misanthropy, you’ll feel right at home listening to ‘Tyrant’.  A great debut from a band that will likely only impress more and more for years to come.


~ by noktorn on April 3, 2008.

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