Review: Earth Ground by Thaw

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I know we’re pretty late to the reviewing game on this one, but I was under the impression that everyone was already dutifully sacrificing goats to Thaw’s new album, Earth Ground. When the October 10th release date came and went without much to-do, I figured I would eventually see more talk of ritual self-immolation while listening, invoking some sort of necrowitch while gluing the CD booklet to your frostbitten body with hot wax, or shrieking at a blood red moon with the skull of a slain enemy in your hand. You know, the usual things you do when a good black metal album is released. But alas, two months have withered and died since Earth Ground was released, and no fell voice, war chant, or grim howl of approval has reached mine ears. Guys, let’s check this out.

Thaw’s sound doesn’t shatter any boundaries, but it does make you think for a second. Frequent doses of thick dissonance make up a general palette, touches of heavy, plodding sludge dot the landscape, and a spacey, reflective mood permeates certain sections. There are occasional glimpses of vocal variation, but overall the listener is accosted by a raspy, layered, midrange shriek that is unmistakably evil and unmistakably black metal. Calling them post-something would probably work best, but that label can often ask more questions than it answers. What’s important here isn’t a finding a sub-sub-genre to shove them in, but rather understanding that this album has a lot to offer. Thaw’s dark and brooding take on modern black metal should find a place on the shelf of the trve and the casval alike.

While there is no specific, unifying concept to Earth Ground, the song titles map out a general arc depicting the passage of three dismal days. Oddly enough, the pacing of songs falls more in a first half/second half division, with the album’s opening of “First Day” through “No Light” punishes with bristling, blasting aggressiveness and the midpoint track “Second Day” marks a generally slower, ponderously heavy approach through the final track “Last Day.” This, of course, is not a strict format, but a straight-through listening of the album will provide an appreciable progression, whether it was intentional or not.

1474498_634084883297143_88395934_nRegardless of where you are in the album, Thaw achieves a fantastic sense of bleak persistence without wearing on. In black metal, that effect is often realized through an onslaught of tremolo chords and blast beats. While we get plenty of that, Earth Ground’s primary strategy is through the crafting of gloomy riffs and chord progressions that repeat just enough to focus the listener’s gaze inward. Take, for example, the excellent pacing of the 0:52-2:13 section of “Afterkingdom:” we start with a heavy rhythmic idea that repeats a few times as a verse adds in, then it slides right into a churning, driving section utilizing more dissonance that evolves a bit before bulldozing right back into the opening blast. Each section establishes itself firmly, giving strong anchor points that make the next sections feel intentional and excellently timed. Similarly, “Last Day” is an absolute punisher of a song, with electronic flavorings to shake things up and massive, chordal sledgehammer sections that all display the same sense of dark, dreadful insistence over a masterful sense of pacing. That section at 3:39, man. It will destroy you.

Another quality that is displayed in the aforementioned sections and throughout the album is a feel of cohesion. Within a given song, the riffs that are pieced together have a distinct connection without sounding overly similar or repetitive. Whether it’s a distinct chord, tonal color, or a rhythmic idea, there is a thread that runs through each song, as if each tune is a monstrous spawn of a single, fascinating, shape-shifting riff. “Soil” is an excellent example of this, where every new section of the seven minute track sounds like a perfect outgrowth of the part before, until we find ourselves having gradually and creatively moved quite far from the beginning idea. While I love music with contrasting sections and highly variable structure, I can really appreciate the compositional intent that comes to mind here: an introspective, post-black metal approach to riffs informed by a borrowed, off-brand idea of minimalism.

In an interview, Thaw stated that their intention with this album was all about sound. The title Earth Ground comes from a statement on the back of guitar amps that says “this unit must be earth grounded.” A fitting title, as the sound of the album has a full, thick tone to each instrument, calling to mind amps in a room rather a direct line through a computer. The guitars are heavy with bold, mid-range frequencies and the bass sits well in the mix at a low, gristly snarl. Combine those elements with a full-bodied snare drum and a more natural sounding kick, and the “Earth” portion of the title is well purposed. Audiophiles can debate the nerdy details in the comments, but to my ears, their thick, imposing sound fits the dark and brooding nature of the music, and the raspy, positively mean vocals are at a stellar spot in the mix.

While Thaw isn’t breaking any boundaries with their sophomore release, they are offering a sincere statement that they mean business. This is an album that should be taken seriously, and a band that should be followed. With an upcoming spring tour as support for Behemoth and Bölzer, Thaw is clearly poised to be a contending force in the underground black metal world. Not to mention the impressive feat of releasing a second album just a year after their debut, along with a split with Echos of Yul that came out this year. The point is, these guys are busy, so pay attention.

Pick up Earth Ground here, like them on Facebook, and tell them the Toilet sent you!

 NO FLUSH

 

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  • dr.derelict

    I’ve been spinning this for a few weeks now. Great review. That tour needs to come to the mountains of NC. We need this. I need this.

    • Xan

      I wholeheartedly agree.

    • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

      wtfs… how many of us live in the mountains of NC? I think that’s at least 5 of us that live in NC alone.

      • VVorld Peace

        All of us, for we are one, and one is all.

        • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

          Yarr-harr fiddlety-dee?

          • VVorld Peace

            Do what you want cuz a pirate is free!

        • Death

          “My name is Legion: for we are many.”

          • VVorld Peace

            Did you just quote the Bible or one of my favorite Hammerfall songs or both? I’ll allow it whichever way.

          • Death

            Bible, I don’t listen to Hammerfall

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            @metaphysicalanus:disqus you keep saying things that make me never want to die.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            “Striking like a reptile, so fierce” is the only trve Hammerfall line.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Just let the hammer fall already, Get On With It.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES
          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            #ExpectTheExpectable

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES
          • Death

            So, you guys dating already?

          • VVorld Peace

            “dating”

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES
          • I hate that movie.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FŒTID VBDVCTEES

            Embrace the forearm bump

          • VVorld Peace

            HEARTS ON FIRE, HEARTS ON FIRE. BURNING, BURNING WITH DESIRE!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            So… we lives in pigs?

          • VVorld Peace

            Not until you’re cast out.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            We hopes that day shall never come. (Btw, this looks very silly now for I edited the comment above)

          • Death

            Ya dun goofed!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Sorta/Kinda. But I donnow qhich was the bigger goof. The comment or editing it.

          • Death

            Your whole existence is a big goof.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            My existence is a goof.
            #BlameItOnGod

          • Death

            #OnlyGodCanJudgeMe

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            *Waits for God to make an appearance*

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            #OnlyKromCanJudgeME

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            *Expects Conan to make an appearance now instead*

          • Death

            I changed my mind
            #OnlyLuciferCanJudgeMe
            Lucifer: You know, this Death fellow is a real stand up guy.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            No fair! He ows you so much. Hrmph.

          • Death

            Hehehe. The Morning Star is my #1 friend!
            (Speaking of #1, where has he been?)

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I dent know, here’s to hoping he too makes an appearance.
            Oh and a neat quote from Jesus: I am the SON OF THE MORNING STAR! #GetRekt

          • Death

            Yeah, but Lucifer means “the morning star”
            #TheRekkingIsReal

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            IKnowDis! Hence Jesus=Lucifire’s son!?!

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES
          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            *Inserts Richard Dawg-kins*

          • Death

            *insert i’m smarter than you because i don’t believe in god comment*

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            Hard to argue

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            *F You, because God*

          • Death

            *insert theamazingatheist is the bestes youtubers ever in the worlds comment*

          • I’m an atheist myself but internet atheists are like the worst things ever. Almost all of them are arrogant, circlejerking pricks.

          • Death

            Amen to that!

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            Welp, that dawkins matter much. You guys weren’t invited to the circle jerk to begin with. I’m just kidding, you were for sure invited, Ann. Wink wink.

          • Death

            Put some Hitchens in there for a change.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            Now you’re dawkin’

          • Death

            Hey, what do you mean we weren’t invited? We started this jerking!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            It’s like looking to the mirror! Almost.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            The arrogant, circlejerking part.

          • when did circlejerking change from something beautiful and community-building, to something with such a negative connotation?

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Here’s to making it beautiful again.

          • Lacertilian

            I find them less irritating than internet religious types who dismiss science whilst utilising the tools it creates.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Hands down can’t beat that. They don’t come any worse.
            #TheHarderTheyCome

          • Death

            He’s a giant douche. Making us atheists look bad.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I wonder if anyone actually likes him.

          • Death

            Euphoric fedora atheists do.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Snatch their fedoras I say, they’ll be helpless without them!

          • Death

            You can’t get close to them due to their body odour

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            I, admittedly, am generally quite pungent.

          • Death

            Do you have a fedora? Do you like The Amazing Atheist?

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            No, I dont wear hats because my hair is luxurious. And he dawkins very little to me. #MilitantAtheism

          • Death

            I will from this point onwards believe you to be a militant atheist.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            And I choose to acknowledge your agnostic atheism, even though I dont understand it.

          • Death

            How do you not understand it mate?

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            Moreso in application than theory. Gotta go to the grocery. TBC

          • The Planck Epoch

            “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed
            science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my
            research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter
            originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the
            particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system
            of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of
            a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all
            matter.”

            -Max Planck

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            @metaphysicalanus:disqus is this who you were talking about?

          • Lacertilian

            “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Heres Tom with the Weather.”
            – Bill Hicks

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            You are too gorgeous for Militant Atheism.
            #NoFakeAvatars

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            Blow thine trumpets, Gabriel!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Dammit, it Dawkins emanates a protective shield.
            Karhu used tackle. *Attack is ineffective*

          • Death

            Actually, it would *it’s not very effective*
            #GetPokemond

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Hundreds of hours of Pokemon and I still don’t know what I’m doing. *Hangs head in shame*

          • Death

            Only hundreds of hours? NoooooooooooB!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            That’s hundreds of hours a game.

          • Death

            Still a NoooooooooooB!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            *Hangs head in shame, again*

          • Death

            Get good!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            *Starts Pokemon, on GBC*

          • Death

            ORAS OR NUTHING BIATCH!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I’m not sure I know what Oras is. I know, I know, flush me right, amirite. I’ll show myself out, as soon as you’ll shed some light on me, what’s oras.

          • Death

            Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Of course. *goes shopping for ORAS*

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            *scurb

          • Death

            Both Jesus and Lucifer are called “the morning star” in the bible.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            So they is the same? Lucifer, savior, son of god? I dunno. Never read the bible after confirmation.

          • Death

            I think it may be because Lucifer becomes Satan that the title of the morning star is moved to Jesus. I dunno.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I was there would’ve been a revelation (pun intended) about Mary and Luciusfer.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            Actually this more calls into question the Fall, as well as the concept of the Trinity. But what do I know, i’m just an #atheist

          • Death

            I’m just an #agnosticatheist

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES
          • Death

            You can’t possibly prove or disprove my existence.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            The ol’ Absence of proof is not the proof of absence trick ‘ey? That Dawkins very little with me.

          • Death

            I am an enigma!

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES
          • Lacertilian

            Like a combo of Schrodinger’s cat & Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, any attempt to observe Death’s position & momentum is impossible.

          • Glolcamole Buttz

            Incorrect, but it’s not a really big theological point. Satan is called Lucifer in Paradise Lost, and when it became part of Catholic canon the idea of his name being Lucifer caught on. The part of Isaiah that people say is talking about Lucifer (which is where the theology comes in) isn’t actually. It’s talking about a king who God was pissed off at at the time.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FŒTID VBDVCTEES

            The more you know…

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan’s Spooky To

            On the subject of The Morning Star here’s one of my favorite songs which mentions it.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM-N4d8NLLo

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES
          • Edward #negrod4eva
          • Death

            This rippity rap doesn’t sound too bad.

          • Edward #negrod4eva

            I’ve been on kind of a Pac kick lately amidst all of the other sounds, noises, atonal melodies, and static.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            biggie > 2pac

            dont fight me! #KnightsEdward

          • Edward #negrod4eva

            I think Biggie is easily the superior rapper, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say Pac made more entertaining music. Damn, this is bringing back eight plus year old internet nostalgia, lol

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            Real rappers dont go to Juilliard!

          • Edward #negrod4eva

            He did eventually get killed over rap beef.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES
          • Lacertilian

            Big L>2pac>Biggie

          • Death

            I’ve been listening to a lot of Wovenhand today

          • I’ve been listening to the blood-choked gurgles of the posers whose throats I have slit.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            lol! “Blood choked gurgles” good stuff!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Again, for a second, I thought meant the band that is actually called Wovenwar.

          • Death

            Wovenhand makes good music, Wovenwar doesn’t

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            For a moment I was VERY surprised, then I realized this was another band. Hand is, apparently, not War.

          • Death
          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            I like dis.

          • Death

            You’re not so bad after all

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Indeed Hand is no War, this is marvelous.

          • Death

            Probably the first christian band that actually makes good music.
            Edit: also Current 93

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            They Christian? Flush! (Kidding, C93 is good too actually) and Neil Morsecode had his moments, though they were scarce. I’m sure there’s some more that I can’t think of the top my head.

          • Death

            Also Nick Cave

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            He fricken good. Seen 10,000days, I have. He’s God/god relationship seems very… weird.

          • Death

            Someties he says that he doesn’t believe ina god and sometimes he does. The man seems to be against organisedmreligions.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I’ll drink to that. He’s my kinda believer, and morbid too.

          • Lacertilian

            Does Death do Nick Cave’s other band Grinderman?

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhUhWrqv9Js

          • Death

            Death prefers Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, but this sound pretty good.

          • Lacertilian

            Agreed, I think every heterosexual male can relate to the No Pussy Blues in some form.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            I retract my initial statement. This is garbage. #DawkinsLyfe

          • Death

            Dooooooooooooooood!

          • wikipedia says: “Tibet’s lyrics have been fairly consistent, regardless of delivery: The earlier recordings reflect his preoccupation with death, Christ, mysticism, Aleister Crowley” Why is he concerned about you? 🙁

          • Death

            Apocalypse is an another pivotal theme in Tibet’s lyrics (he has called the music Apocalyptic Folk).

          • he worked with Death in June, right?

          • Death

            Yes, I think. Also Douglas P from Death In June played in Current 93 ( A Song For Douglas After He’s Dead is possibly made for him). If I remember correctly, he and Tibet had a falling out in some point.

          • Edward #negrod4eva

            I’m listening to this song cause my irl bff just texted me about this band, srs.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74TP8QhupLU

          • This isn’t even decent by lifeloving standards.

          • Edward #negrod4eva

            He was like:

            check out the band Cloud Nothings and let me know what you think.

            So I was like:

            Ok I can do that.

          • Kill your friends, die in obscvrity.

          • Edward #negrod4eva

            I like what you did with that “v” in obskvrity.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            google translate says the latin version:

            morietur in obscuro

          • Death

            So, what do you think?

          • Edward #negrod4eva

            I didn’t hate it but it was not something I would likely seek out again on my own.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

            I made it 17 seconds.

          • Next time masturbate once beforehand, and if you feel yourself getting close, pull out and give your nuts a gentle tug.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FŒTID VBDVCTEES

            Dont go blabbing about our sex life to everyone, Ann.

          • Sorry, bb

          • Death

            You have weird friends mate. Absolutely disgusting song.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            Reminds me of dinosaur jr…https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TgTJtdn6VjM

          • Lacertilian

            Picture Negrodamus Rollin’

          • Edward #negrod4eva

            Great tune!

          • Howard Dean

            …wait, Death likes rap?!

            I never would’ve guessed that in a million years. That’s kind of a mind blowing revelation for HD.

          • Death

            I’m not a huge rap fan, but some rap songs I can dig.

          • Howard Dean
          • CT-12
          • Edward #negrod4eva

            I just started listening to this before I had to walk out the door for work today! Will listen tonight in full. My first impression of the video was that it was pretty awful, lol.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan’s Spooky To

            The song was good though! I didn’t get the video at all.

          • CT-12

            Yeah, it needs the Rho Stone or 365DaysofHorror treatment

          • Edward #negrod4eva

            The song is tight though. I think I like it more than anything that came on the first album of this year.

      • Xan

        It’s pretty wizard, except for the humidity in the summer.

        • BLVKKBEVRD’S FŒTID VBDVCTEES

          humidity in the mountains isn’t bad Xan, in the flatlands it is.

          • Xan

            I’ve yet to ascend to the mountains. I’m still down in Catawba Valley. I’m transferring to Appalachian State next fall semester so I’ll get to experience the glory of the cooler weather for at least four years.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FŒTID VBDVCTEES

            Boone can be brootal man. I got my BFA from App State. Go mountaineers!

          • Xan

            It won’t be a big problem for me. I love cold weather (though snow gets old after a while). I prefer wearing hoodies and beanies. The cold weather facilitates this desire much better than the summer or spring.

      • Tyree

        Your avatar needs to be Stabbed, filled, and hung on the wall.

        • BLVKKBEVRD’S FŒTID VBDVCTEES

          That’s a Cannibal Corpse song, right?

    • Stockhausen

      I’d love to see them live, a five piece like this would put out some serious sound and energy.

  • This is a review about which I would say, “this is a great review about an album about which I would say, ‘this is a great album.’ ” – Stockhausen

  • Edward #negrod4eva

    My curiosity is piqued.

  • VVorld Peace

    Great review, matey!

    • Stockhausen

      Thanks you be unto you.

  • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

    This album isn’t bad. Least not what I’ve heard of it. If nothing special either. This review is better.

  • Glolcamole Buttz

    I listened to the first track. Solid dig. Will check out tonight/10.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Oh I like this. I like much.

  • Death

    My anus has spoken to me! He said that this is something we can dig.

  • The Planck Epoch

    Void!

  • BLVKKBEVRD’S FVTED VBDVCTEES

    Having to take copious amounts of niacin and nearly drowning yourself with water to pass a drug test? Well, fuck you, scurb. Die in Obscurity
    http://youtu.be/HYT1fr1F_Qk

    • KJM

      I am sorry you have to do that.

      • BLVKKBEVRD’S FŒTID VBDVCTEES

        I knew you would understand, KJ. I’m smoke-free for a couple days (while the old lady hits the bong beside me). Doesn’t mean I can get drunk as fuck though.

        • KJM

          So happy I’ve managed to avoid having to do that for work so far.

          • BLVKKBEVRD’S FŒTID VBDVCTEES

            Unfortunately, my curriculum vitae exhibits my aptitude for dealing with the public. This job means working on high-dollar cars. Unavoidable. I’ll manage for a few days, tho.

  • I like this musically but those vox are way too Popeye for me

  • Ferris Mueller

    Hells yeah thanks the introduction