Thrawsunblat – Metachthonia (2016) – Review

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Risen from the ashes of the defunct band Woods of Ypres a few years ago, the Canadian band Thrawsunblat just took the locks off their newest, third 2016 full-length release Metachthonia.

I am always looking for interesting tidbits and elements in a band that will contribute to an elevated level of metal nirvana.

And I found some. The band’s interesting choice of a female drummer – Rae Amitay – for sure puts even more spice into an already interesting record. Not often found in those male-dominated waters, female drumstick wielders usually turn out better than their male counterparts. The proverbial female touch and no exception here.

If the lore is true, Amitay first planned to join Woods of Ypres together with bassist Brendan Hayter. But following the disbandment of WoY in 2011, they finally joined Thrawsunblat together with Joel Violette on guitars and vocals. The old hands of Woods of Ypres are all present, methinks.

Got you interested? And so you should be. Because Metachthonia here is good pottage. The whole album exudes somewhat of an earthy odor that is usually found in Pagan Metal proper, whilst this album is definitely not going down that road. Brandishing a faint, doomy whiff at times and a little similar to Antyra, their brand of pagan-soaked, folksy Black Metal is chaotic, complex, and unpredictable. And I daresay, the color black increased manifold as the tracklist progressed. As well as it should be. 

In addition, Thrawsunblat also went a-hunting in the realms of Wilderun and others on some of them later tracks. Also, wisely using clear vocals in between the more blackish rasps keeps this metal soup nicely spiced. In truth, only using rasps would have made the album lose a lot of its allure. 

But then, why this? I don’t know what it is with this friggin’ loudness war, getting the rhythm guitar and drums drowning out the vocals. Or that you feel the need for an 8.0 Surround Sound system to get you at least some decent output.

But that would probably fix nothing. To make a bad job worse, you’ll sometimes find the vocals totally out of sync and disjointed from left to right channels on some tracks. Not sure who needs to be disowned first – the mixer or the masterer. But somebody needs punishment. This is just an awful job that gets worse as you move along the record.

You thus get this kind of fruit salad full of fucking bricks. And Metachthonia of Thrawsunblat is filled to the brim with that. Despite the fact that anything blackened is usually a motley mix of elements thrown into a pot and stirred loud. And may be difficult to listen to. Because – by design – anything blackened is complex and loud.

To their credit, the separation gets a bit better further down the road, like as of the second half of the album. But all Black Metal parts suffer from the same kind of disease. Yet, all this angered me in a way, looking at the past award-winning work of the mixing and mastering engineers. In this light, why were they unable to deliver a Black Metal mix that holds its water? 

But Metachthonia is still on this blog! Clearly, the frugal mixing and mastering job at some points of the album is not making this an easy choice. But this band is good, really good. The album surprises with a – how to call it – somewhat archaic, primordial atmosphere gracing the listener right from the start. The choice of a warm cello sound to mark the quieter passages on the album is just perfect. And perfectly interpreted by Raphael Weinroth-Browne too. 

You will find it difficult to listen to the album in bits and pieces. It shines by the sum of all parts and outstandingly so. Weaving its way about the aforementioned star-lit, earthy landscape towards empires unknown.

Apart from the expertly delivered drum work, the guitars constantly blast this mix of great riffing, subdued solos, and acoustics sprinkled all around the disc. In addition, the way Metachthonia rapidly cruises over different musical territories, surprising you with different hooks, licks, and riffs at every bend in this road commands respect.

Just check out Hypochthonic Remnants. At first, you think the Black Metal spiked fist department just struck with armored war horses. But then you get clear vocals in the middle, just to go down the Black Metal pit again a little later. As found often with atmospherically challenged metal bands. The album keeps up its fire throughout the very short track list, ending in a very acceptable In Mist We Walk.

In Conclusion!

Very detailed, tough, leathery, chaotic, and complex, Metachthonia delivers a blackish atmospherically-challenged brand of Folk Metal of very good quality. Thrawsunblat‘s ability to keep the coherence of this somewhat confusing risotto of many parts is one of their strengths. Which in turn, will make it difficult for you to switch off the music machine before the album ends.

However, the impurities with the mix and master will knock a fair number of points off their rating. True, it is not something their musicianship really deserves. But a questionable production makes it difficult to listen to a piece of music. And this must never happen if you are a musician worth his or her salt.

Record Rating: 4/10 | Label: Ignifera Records | Web: Official Site
Release date: 17 June 2016

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