Thrawsunblat’s Metachthonia Riffs, Hard

It’s been three years since Thrawsunblat’s Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings was released, but it feels like an eternity. I’m not sure if this perceived blip in the spacetime continuum is due to the fact that the first studio updates of the new album were posted an indeterminable time ago (damn, even the album cover was revealed over a year ago), or whether my innate impatience has gotten the better of me. Either way, its release is long over due. Well, was it worth the wait? Let’s see.

Thrawsunblat are known for producing heavily folk-tinged, melodic black metal, and while the album falls squarely within this characterization, their new album Metachthonia is a completely different beast. For a start, for a folk black metal (or as it’s more affectionately known, Trees ’n’ Shit black metal) release, it’s surprising lacking in trees. If you don’t believe me, here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth.

Trees

While the bands overall sound remains intact and recognizable, gone are the overtly folky elements such as fiddles, tin whistles and other standard fare, and gone are the sea shanties and drinking songs. Instead, we find a band that has been steadily honing its craft, a band that has shunned the standard genre tropes and a band that has developed an erudite awareness of how to take the best elements of both folk and black metal and morph them into a single cohesive unit (albeit more black and less folk this time around). Metachthonia, Greek for “the age after that of the Earth,” is a concept album revolving around the rejection of the current industrialized epoch, and a longing to return to the simpler times when people were at one with nature and landscape. The manifestation of this message vacillates between ethereal beauty and raging fury.

“Fires That Light the Earth” opens with the warm, somber notes of a cello, given to the hands of Raphael Weinwroth-Browne (Musk Ox and The Visit), before being joined in musical accordance by a sweet lead. The mood is then abruptly interrupted by some serious riffing and blasting. Riffs are layered and transformed, leads come in and out, tempo changes abound. It’s a wild ride for sure, but not in a chaotic sense as all the components of the song are impeccably placed with quite deliberate phrasing. Joel Violette’s vocals are on point throughout with his vehement growls and his robust cleans, both being delivered with palpable feeling. (Favorite riff @ 1:13)

The second track, “She Who Names the Stars,” was released as the lead-off single and grabbed my attention immediately. Initially stunned, now that I’m familiar with the entire album, it’s arguably the weakest song. While most of the songs twist and turn and lead you on a journey, this song is quite structured and follows a more linear trail. It starts off well enough with some excellent, hooky vocal melodies, and there are a few nice interludes connecting the dots, but I find that it loses me a little with the somewhat repetitive vocals towards the middle and latter part of the song. There’s an affluence of soothing cello to be found (providing a melodious undercurrent that always enhances and never detracts from the proceedings), and despite Rafael not being his typical virtuosic self, his contributions to the entire album are expressive and considered. (Favorite riff @ 0:42)

“Dead of Winter” is probably the least folky song on the album and barring the brief harmonized vocal intro, and the tiniest acoustic break, it’s a ripper. Clean and harsh vocal lines are juxtaposed to great effect, all backed up with some of the fiercest riffs and explosive drums on display. What I like about Rae Amitay’s (Immortal Bird) blasting in particular is that it’s not all pedal to the metal, hyper speed variety. In fact, it seems much more conservative and dialed in with the music, and with the decrease in speed, comes power and impact. The album is infested with sing-a-long choruses, and I’ve found my self incessantly singing (as will you), “All you, welcome to Metachthonia,” while showering, cooking and cleaning. By the way, this is a refrain that is introduced in the previous song although in an altered state. (Favorite riff @ 4:15)

I haven’t yet mentioned this yet, but the songs on this album are long, with “Hypochthonic Remnants” being the shortest at a little over eight minutes. The band’s last album had more succinct ideas formed into smaller packages, but I must admit, for this style of music, I prefer the journey that these longer compositions take me on, meandering along, all the while knowing that I’m on the right path. This track is brimming with heavily palm muted riffs and gruff vocals, counterbalanced with some formidable tremolo picking and a beautiful neo-folk outro. (Favorite riff @ 4:13)

“Rivers of Underthought” is an up and down affair (or more accurately up, down, up). While it contains a plethora of engaging and diverse moments, it’s some of these diversions that are in fact, diversions. For example, the proggy interlude midway through the song seems forced and unnecessary, and rather than being an unusual textural element it just seems out of place. The highlight of the song has to be the brief (and only) solo that occurs prior to this section. It’s absolutely stellar, and I could have done with a few more of these scattered throughout the record. (Favorite riff @ 2:34)

The affair concludes with “In Mist We Walk” which showcases some of the best lead work on the entire album and more harmonizing than a Welsh male voice choir. In fact, you could say that this album is a master class in harmonizing, and whether that is guitars, cello or vocals, there’s always a melodic counterpoint to the main theme. Much of the guitar work has more of a classical than folk bent to it (as do a lot of the other songs on the album), especially when you consider the development of the ideas and their multiple variations, and so when listening to this song, I’m left with the feeling that it was composed rather then written. (Favorite riff @ 2:04)

With Metachthonia, the band has opted for a more modern sounding production, and for the most part the rhythm guitar tone is thick and meaty, while the lead is crisp and clean. The bass guitar provides more of a background rumble with a lack of discernible lines of its own (except in a few cases such as the middle of “She Who Names the Stars”). 
Typically, I enjoy a bit more space between the instruments, but as this is a far more angry release, the murkiness just works.

4.5 out of 5 Flaming Toilet ov Hell

NEW_TOILETSCALE_4-5_of_5Metachtonia,is a compelling release and a more than worthy follow up to Wanderer. Its black and folk ingredients have been revamped, refined, reduced and tempered to perfection. Any fans of the style will be elated, and although it’s way too early to start talking about end of year lists, I’m sure this album will end up on a few. FFO: Riffs, Melody.


Metachtonia will be released digitally and on CD on June 17th. A double LP will be available at a later date through Broken Limbs Recordings.

Follow Thrawsunblat on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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Published on: June 17, 2016

Filled Under: Reviews

Views: 1091

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  • Abradolf Lincler

    STAN STAN, HE’S OUR MAN
    IF HE CANT DO IT
    JUST FUCKING KILL YOURSELF

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Roses are black
      Violets are black
      Everything is black
      Fuck yeah m/

      • Joaquin Stick

        I dance in the trees
        More headbanging than dancing
        Just like the Finnish

        • Joaquin Stick

          There once was a man in the forest,
          Who lived on basically no rest;
          He tremoloed all day,
          Blasted the night away,
          By the devil, he was possessed.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          There once was a man from Nails
          Whose riffs had the force of ten gales
          When hounding his bus, he said to me thus:
          “Hey dude, you will never be one of us”

          • Your closing rhyme is supposed to follow the AA structure of the first two lines. Very disappointed in you, limmerickbot.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            I like to shake things up when spitting hot fire

          • Abradolf Lincler

            Baa Baa Black Sheep
            Getcha any pulls
            Yes sir yes sir,
            12 bricks full

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Black Beard, Black Beard
            A pirate in his head
            Black Beard, Black Beard
            To metal he is wed
            Jump to the comments
            Poems at the ready
            Black Beard, Black Beard
            Thou art heavy

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Since when did you have a mixtape?

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Since always. Google “Ultimate Big Ol’ Slammin’ Booty Mix 2009”

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I didn’t know that you had a mixtape and that it spit hot fire.

          • brokensnow

            slam poetry

          • Dubbbz

            Also limericks are supposed to be about dicks.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            You mean like the man from Nantucket?

          • Dubbbz

            No, nothing like that.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I must be thinking of the wrong limerick.

    • Stanley

      Ah, shucks.

  • Dubbbz

    I want to hear this, Stannis!

    • Abradolf Lincler

      can confirm good status

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Throwin’ the music at us, that Thrawsunblattus

    • Stanley

      Do it. I just checked iTunes and I’ve listened to this album 23 times. Normally after reviewing an album I need a break, but the first thing I did when I opened this article was click on the bandcamp link.

      • Joaquin Stick

        Just finished the whole album myself. I am going to finish what is left of the new Wayfarer, then probably come back and listen to this again. I think I have to challenge you on your riff choice in song 3, the one at like 7:30 uppercutted my dangly bits.

        • Stanley

          Dead of Winter is my favorite song. I will not argue with you. The riff in that song was a tough one to pick.

  • Joaquin Stick

    Love the idea of mentioning where your favorite riffs are on these long songs. Never heard of these guys, enjoying it so far. The production seems a little flat when they are blasting, but sounds good overall. Thanks Stan (trees ‘n’ shit) Marsh!

    • Dubbbz

      They are the spiritual successors to Woods of Ypres, but more blackened.

      • Joaquin Stick

        I see. Seems like a little less “crawl in a cave and die” depression themed as well.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Stan & shit

    • Stan Marsh… Mellow… Jojojojojojojo…

  • J.R.™

    So gooooooooooddddddd

  • Dubbbz

    There once was an old man from Wales
    Who wrote a review about males
    That made such a clatter
    His black heart did splatter
    With juicy riffs that blow like gales.

    • Stanley

      5/7 effort. 1/7 for factual accuracy.

      • Dubbbz

        Dangit

        • Stanley

          I’m sure you wrote an article about Immortal Bird. In fact, it’s linked above.

          • Dubbbz

            Oh, (fe)male too.

            I was just trying to be bawdy, in keeping with the nature of limericks.

          • Stanley

            Nice comeback.

      • facturacy

        • CyberneticOrganism

          100% Fuckuracy

          • Abradolf Lincler

            This album is 100% blackurate

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Burblingly blackurate

          • Abradolf Lincler

            Blackkake

          • MachoMadness5000

            Bukkake

        • MachoMadness5000

          Fear Facturacy

  • EsusMoose

    If it’s like musk ox (which I want to relisten to now after seeing the ox photo on that article) then I’ll have to give it a try

    • Stanley

      It’s not like Musk Ox.

      • (he should still give it a try tho, right)

        • Stanley

          For sure. And Moose, you should also check out their previous work as it’s more folky.

          • EsusMoose

            Not always a huge fan of folk but I do love riffs and melody so I’ll throw this on here soon and give it a spin

      • EsusMoose

        Speed reading as failed me yet again! Will try it anyway

  • Oh man stan this is good shit!

  • Abradolf Lincler

    Hey guys I’m not feeling you right now I’m about to do a job at a place called the foundation for evangelism

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      I am so sorry. Evangelists are awful people and they’re usually fake Christians because even though they claim to be religious they’re the most sinful.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        Never mind, I’m thinking of Televangelists.

        • Abradolf Lincler

          . . .

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I may be a religious man but I hate televangelists. They’re charlatans and they scam vulnerable people out of their money. God won’t show mercy on their fake piousness.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Let’s interview them

      • Abradolf Lincler

        i dont think i can burn this place down while im working

      • 1st question:

        What do you think of early Burzum work?

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Two-part question: A) how many houses do you own, and B) how many of them were paid for with the church’s money?

          • Abradolf Lincler

            this bitch did everything she could to not shake my hand

  • Bookrmarked.

    Thanks for your review, Stan.

  • Dubbbz

    Stannis, I have finished the album, and it is ace!

    • Stanley

      Glad you like it. You’re homework assignment it to listen to it 22 more times.

  • nbm02ss

    Cool review. I needed something to listen to at work, so I’ll give this album a go.

  • InfinityOfThoughts

    I’m so happy this band is getting some love around here, they deserve it.

  • Waynecro

    I’m kind of digging this. Thanks for the great review!

  • pfk505

    Killer album! my turlet is a’flamin’

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    I don’t know how I missed this review. The album is jamming