No band has shed light on our dystopian era quite like sonic manifesto of Louisiana’s Thou. This sludgy, doom outfit have set the bar high around the blackened edges of the genre, in consistent manifesto of variably distinguished instrumentals and who’s voice remains brutal in its honesty. “Heathen,”
released on March 25th, 2014 on Gilead Media, reaches out like trapped hands in the rubble of our falling cities. Desperate for change but incapable in their rigged cages.
Fading in to a siren of feedback, a sonic bloom floods over a desolate plane like algae as drums roll out and guitar rhythms hypnotize you in their grains of sinking, swallowing sands. Peaceful and barren, the likes of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, ‘Free Will’ beacons you to explore what’s left and gives you the power to be the pivotal force behind your actions. The destructive “stone that starts the avalanche.”
‘Dawn’ bathes you in its warm glow of amber sap flows and guitar riffs smoothly felt in illuminated cheek swells. Captured for only a short moment under which, exposed this ‘Feral Faun.’ It is a fair question, to which portion we’ve come to identify; man or beast. Where boundaries are lost and our heads cease to be ones of our fruition. The urge to retreat into the forest is strong but even the forests have changed into our concrete jungles. Melodic chords wander in twisted layers like winding roots, only to burst with distortion and the tingle from crashes of Josh Nee‘s kit.
“Heathen” predominantly deals with the decay of us amidst the civilization we’ve created and the essentiality of rebirthing our societal presence in a more holistic state, free of these binds. With no exception ‘Into The Marshland’ drags you in till you’re swamped in the atmospherics of it all. The climactic snarls of Bryan Funck at 5:12 entrance like the rituals of a tweaked out shaman on a spiritual voyage.
‘Clarity’ encapsulates all that is this etherial and lucid in its interlude. Watery and encircling like aquatic reflective pools, it hovers over my favourite track on the album ‘At The Foot Of Mount Driskill.’ The concept of destroying our history; one which has been manipulated and modified to fit certain agendas. Told from many sides but never the witness. “We are nothing. Insignificant dust motes blown away by the breath of time.” The layers of Andy and Mathew’s guitars make this track the pinnacle of perfection, coupled with prices composition, perfectly recorded drum tracks and and the hollow aquatic spaces where Bryan‘s vocals are left to sink or swim with the weight they bear complete the track flawlessly.
‘In Defiance Of The Sages,’ though well politically motivated and articulate is not my favourite track on the album. Quite monotonous and lyrically dense, amidst the rest of the album it just does’t hold up in my eyes amidst the pack. It’s accompanied by yet another glistening interlude, ‘Take Off Your Skin and Dance in Your Bones,’ capturing all the emotion of the earlier ‘Clarity’ from an expression of contrasting tides.
‘Immorality Dictates’ feel immensely hollow, with a reverb that could ripple off the halls of Atlantis. McWilliams, who’s featured on this track, delivers a stunningly haunting performance with ghostly siren echoes, coiling around her words like vocal shadows. As the track builds gradually into a momentously dense propulsion, the delicate cymbals quiver with intensity and the guitars return the light into luminous chords.
Thou finishes off the album with a solitary lament, ‘Ode To Physical Pain,’ tying the remaining strands of its crassly braided judgement into a lengthy coil. While different from all their former albums, yet remaining true to their essence, Thou’s “Heathen” is a stand out for me this year so far and I look forward to anything they put forth in the future.