Wednesday 14 September 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Thou - "Peasant" (Reissue)

By: Jay Hampshire

Album Type: Full Length (Reissue)
Date Released: Out Now
Label: Gilead Media

“Peasant” CD//DD track Listing

1. The Work Ethic Myth     
2. An Age Imprisoned
3. Belt of Fire to Guide Me, Cloak of Night to Hide Me
4. Burning Black Coals and Dark Memories
5. They Stretch Out Their Hands
6. The Road of Many Names

The Review:

Out of print for five years, and recorded back in 2008, “Peasant”, the second release from Baton Rouge’s Thou, is seeing the light of day once more. The six tracks have been given the studio lift and polish one would expect from an album re-issue. But how have the tracks fared in the near decade since they were first lain down, and in the face of Thou’s now impressively expansive back catalogue?
Opener ‘The Work Ethic Myth’ kicks in with some deliciously organic amp/plugging in noises, before some typically Thou-ian mournful, weighty chords slide in, with a backbone carved of busy kicks and steady drums. The pace drags (in a good way), occasional guitar notes lifting from the dense, bass heavy fug. Bryan Funck’s crowing vocals rasp atop the mountainous terrain, and the track moves through lush, melodic riffing and into a chugging drive home.

‘An Age Imprisoned’ is buzzy and oddly uplifting, the tightly locked drums dictating a sludgy pace, throwing occasional gasps of fills into the mix. There’s a post-metal flair here, combining a head-nodding groove and a steadily growing spaced-out drone section well. ‘Belt Of Fire To Guide Me, Cloak Of Night To Hide Me’ is doomier fare, punctured by jazzy drum work, slowly building tension before being cast aside by a punchy, lumbering riff that ascends and exhausts itself, coming to rest among shimmering cymbals and tom heavy tribal drums.

‘Burning Black Coals and Dark Memories’ starts off wearied, lighter guitars flitting over a smooth bass undertow. The brooding, moody tone and canny layering makes this the high point of the album so far, which is only strengthened by its climactic turn through thick, sludgy chords and malevolent canyons of throbbing feedback. ‘They Stretch Out Their Hands’ is all massive chug, charging like a prehistoric beast, lapsing into wavering dissonance and wandering bass. ‘The Road of Many Names’ closes with rampant, driving riffs, propelled towards mania by frantic drums, ending with ethereal, reverb drenched single notes.

Despite this squall of superlatives, a re-issue and remaster is meant to highlight the strengths of an already formidable release. With “Peasant”, it only seems to cast light on some of the records flaws. Instrumental layers often stand too far apart when they should tie closely together. Some of the tracks seem too subtle, lacking true dynamic punch, leaving them sounding at best slightly flat, at worst drudgy and uninspired. It’s with the vocals that these cracks show most – they sit awkwardly on top of sections, always separate, somewhat hollow, lacking resonance. Certainly not the sharpened, venomous shrieks that can be expected from Thou now.

While “Peasant” showcases the band transitioning between their earlier sound and their more fully realised state, the necessity of its re-issue is questionable. Not as strong as their latter work, somewhat of a ‘difficult second album’, it’s slightly tousled by a sometimes less than flattering remaster. For diehard fans, this will be a long awaited opportunity to reclaim a slice of the bands’ ancient history. For new initiates, it’s arguably best avoided.

‘Peasant” is available here

Band info: bandcamp

RIYL: Khanate, Keeper, Primitive Man