Wednesday, 12 November 2014

THAW - Earth Ground (Album Review)

Earth Ground cover art

Album Type: Album
Date Released: 10th October 2014
Label: Witching Hour Productions

Earth Ground – Track Listing

1. First Day
2. Afterkingdom
3. Sun
4. No Light
5. Second Day
6. Soil
7. Winter’s Bone
8. Last Day


M. – Bass, vocals.
A. – Bass, guitars, noise.
P. – Noise.


One of my main gripes with modern Black Metal is that many of the artists choose to abandon weight of sound in favour of something as surface as ‘necrosound’. It’s all been done, raw aggression doesn’t need to come from recording quality anymore. Of course, there is always a time and place for that kind of rigid, tape-quality Black Metal forged in €400 studio apartments, just like there is always a time and a place for a can of beer to take the edge off a hard Monday’s office work. It’s easy to find, it’s easily digestible, and you’ll probably forget all about it by morning time. In trying to stand out, bands have become just as communalized and expendable as the old school death metal they rebelled against.

That’s why excessive levels of necrosound just doesn’t do it for me anymore, it’s self-sacrificial, a mere chop and screw so that one’s music can fit into the back-pockets of the blogger elite. Don’t get me wrong, I love pulsating noise just as much as the next moustachioed weirdo, but it’s always refreshing to hear a black metal band embrace themselves rather than offer themselves up, that’s what made Black Metal relevant in the first place. That’s why Thaw’s second full-length, Earth Ground, has made such an impression on me.

This is a completely vascular record, veins taut as razor wire, and it owes itself not only to its obvious Black Metal influences, but also to the sheer obesity of Sludge that coagulates beneath its ferocity. Its meticulous production value allows for each instrument to roar and scream and perform their individual tasks effectively in the overall scheme of things, and it even harks back to the alpine majesty offered by bands like Emperor, though without any symphonic overkill.

The cavernous bass of ‘First Day’ produces a tension that soon manifests as the first ravenous blasts of ‘Afterkingdom’, a track that serves not so much as a taster of things to come, but as a blind plunge into the depths of what Earth Ground has to offer. ‘Sun’ is an invisible orange grabbing classic, throbbing with the sinister energy that could only be produced by that colossal, thunderous breed of guitar riff known to all second-wave Black Metal fans. ‘No Light’ writhes snake-like throughout, M’s cancerous vox fighting through the waves of noisome contortions. Thaw are quite vocal about their position as a noise band, and this self-proclamation is crystalized in the insane and abrupt murmurings of ‘Second Day’, a brief excursion into wailing feedback eventually leads to ‘Soil’, yet another, and I’m raking my eyes with one hand as I type these words, “frost-bitten” assault on the senses.

Driven by a striking percussion that drags the boots of this track through heavy snow, ‘Winter’s Bone’ is the most obvious piece of experimentation on Earth Ground, aided by spectral electronics and string conjured miasma. Album closer ‘Last Day’ arrives solemnly before totally combusting into heavy, knuckle-dragging chaos that crawls on its belly from the primordial soup and hardens as one final imposing riff.

I do not give bad reviews, I simply find that slating a band, no matter how terrible they are, is lazy and serves no one. You may as well be wiping your arse with a child’s finger painting. As such, I’ve spent more time describing what I hear than whether I like it or not. With Earth Ground, I can honestly say that every minute of this record was a pleasure, and it’s a slab of malevolence that everyone should kneel before at least once.

Words by Liam Doyle

Thanks to Witching Hour Productions for the promo. Earth Ground is available to buy now.

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