Saturday 8 November 2014

Whalerider- Thanatos (Album Review)

Thanatos cover art

Album Type: Album
Date Released: 14th November 2014
Label: Self Released

Thanatos – Track Listing

2.What's In Your Head?
3.Devil Got Me
4.Feed My Affection
6.I Am Tarantula
7.Mr. Pestizid
8.Sleepy Hound
9.Found A Lie
11.Your Undying Memory


WHALERIDER’s sound is massive, tuned lower than the basement, defies convention, and is at times reminiscent of early SUB-POP bands such as TAD and SOUNDGARDEN.

70's psychedelic rock has also left its mark on the band. WHALERIDER manages to find a balance between songs that are variously challenging and catchy.


Sahba Yadegar-Yousefi: lead/rythm guitar
Max Feibel: vocals, bass, sounds
Patrick Auch: rythm guitar, backing vocals
Daniel Schwarz: drums


So what do we have here? - Thanatos. The debut album from Whalerider. A band that have a strange and original sound all of their own. Whalerider are very much an experimental band as they play different sounds through the almost 60 minute running time of their debut album. Whalerider describe themselves as an Alternative/Sludge Rock Band. Sure that is one way to describe them but there is so much more to Whalerider's sound than that brief description. They also add elements of Grunge, Hard Rock, Stoner, Doom, Ambient and even Post-Metal on the album for one crazy complex ride.

Opening track - Trips'n'Trucks - is an 63 second ambient based track packed full of glitches and noises which may give you the impression that is going to be a Doom/Post-Metal album of some sort. Well things can be very deceiving. Wait until the 2nd song - What's In Your Head - starts. A blistering song that feels like a classic 90s grunge track with some hazy doomy riffs and vocals setting the scene for the next 5:30 mins or so. It sees Whalerider paying homage to their musical heroes while forging own identity with a beautifully written and subtle track before unleashing heavy riffs that will knock you out cold.

Though be aware as Whalerider start to experiment with their sound and add different noises to the mix though not until the later stages of the album. Before then the band carry on with the alt-metal/sludge rock sound on 3rd track - Devil Got Me - with influences of TOOL or A Perfect Circle starting to make their way to the surface. It's a highly passionate and exciting song that takes a while to get going but when the fast-paced riffs appear then there is no turning back for one exciting and action packed ride. It may take a few listens of the album to detect the Sludge/Stoner vibes but they are there. They are hidden in the complex maze that Whalerider have created here for you to solve. Though you maybe to busy enjoying the wild complex ride to care what the album has in store for you.

For the 4th track song, - Feed My Affection - Whalerider unleash one of the albums epic tracks which run past the 8-minute mark. It's a slow-burning track that sees Whalerider combine Alt-Metal sounds with a darker Sludge Rock atmosphere to provide a thought provoking tale that brings back memories of 90s Soundgarden. Whalerider take the song into another direction around the 5 minute mark by adding dark doom and gloom atmospherics with epic riffs to cushion the blow. You may think reading this album review that I may of lost control of my senses but trust me when I say Whalerider have created a complex sound that is very hard to describe. The vocals have a slight off-kilter indie rock feeling that actually works for this track. So Whalerider should be applauded for doing something different. The last 50 seconds or so ventures into ambient rock territory with beats and glitches making you question - What did I just listen to.

Up next is the title track - Thanatos - A 9 minute plus trippy psych rock track that sees Whalerider finally brings the Sludge Rock sound to the centre of the album. It's a loud and adventurous take on a Sludge/Stoner Rock song with crazy vocals to match. The lyrics have a dark meaning to them which gives the album a more unsettling feel. Tantric and Eastern Noises lurk in the background before an soothing post-rock melody that slows the mood right down. This sees vocalist - Max - lay down some impressive soulful and emotional vocals to give the album real emotional depth. It's a brave decision to take the album into this darker post-metal direction as it's a very different sound to the earlier songs. This has to be the albums standout track that shows you the full power of what Whalerider is all about. Whalerider change direction once again with the more direct and fast-paced hard-rock song - Tarantula. It's more of a straight-up instrumental rock affair with Whalerider enjoying the musical freedom around by playing some epic jam-based riffs.

The 25 second interlude of Mr Pestizid only acts as brief rest before the heavier sounds arrive. Sleepy Hound is a slow-paced emotionally charged track with the band laying everything on the line with ambient noises and sounds playing in the background. It leaves you in a sad reflective state for the next 5 minutes or so. While I applaud the band for writing a track like this I would of excluded it as it slows the mood right down. Though never fret as Whalerider return to form with the anthemic - Found A Lie- which adds more of a Tool-esque vibe to turn the mood progressive and slightly reflective. It's another one of the albums standout tracks where Whalerider unleash their dark musical vision for everyone to experience. 

The last two tracks - Self Destruction and Your Undying Memory - sees Whalerider venture once again into darker moods as they add a lot more doom and gloom atmospherics to the mix which even ventures into Drone territory. The album ends on a emotionally cold feeling that you wouldn't expect on album such as this. Whalerider should be applauded for doing something different with their sound. Thanatas is an outstanding debut album. Whalerider are a band to keep an eye on in the future.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Whalerider for the promo. Thanatos will be available to buy on November 14th 2014 on CD/DD.

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