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 signed to Ignifera Records.
I am always looking for interesting tidbits and elements in a band, kind of contributing to an elevated level of metal nirvana. And I found some: Their interesting choice of a female drummer – Ray Amitay – for sure puts even more spice into an already interesting record. Seldom found in such male dominated genres, female drumstick wielders usually turn out better than their male counterparts; the female touch and no exception here. If the lore is true, Rae 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 hand of Woods of Ypres.
Got you interested?
And so you should be, because this pottage 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, doomish whiff of the aforementioned Woods of Ypres at times and a little similar to Antyra, their brand of pagan-soaked, blackened Folk Metal is chaotic, complex and unpredictable. And I daresay: The color black in this sea of Folk Metal increased manifold. As well as it should be.
In addition, the Thrawsunblat also went a-hunting in the realms of Wilderun and others on some of them later tracks. 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 drowning out the vocals. Or that you feel the need for a 8.0 Surround Sound system to get you at least some decent output. And you get this kind of fruit salad, when starting listening to the 2016 offering Metachthonia of Thrawsunblat. Despite the fact that anything blackened is usually a motley mix of elements thrown into a pot and stirred 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 decease. And this angered me in a way, looking at the past award-winning work of the mixing and mastering engineers. In this light, why could they not deliver a Black Metal mix, better fitting for purpose.
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, real 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.
Very detailed, tough, leathery, chaotic and complex, Metachthonia delivers a blackish atmosperically-challenged brand of Folk Metal of a very good quality. Thrawsunblat‘s ability to keep coherence of this somewhat confused 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.
This is the kind of tune best consumed outdoors on a starry, cold night. Give it a try!
Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Ignifera Records | Web: Official Site