Narrow House – Thanathonaut (Solitude Productions)Wednesday, 27th August 2014
Ukrainian metallers Narrow House know how to paint an interesting picture. On their second album, Thanathonaut, they put forth an eclectic mix of genres to bring about something that is truly unique and oddly satisfying (this is technically doom metal we are talking about after all). But don’t come to this expecting anything approaching “normal.”
Within the doom genre itself, Narrow House spends time with all of it. There’s hints of funeral doom, psychedelia, and some stoner moments. But not happy to stay confined to the doom tag, you’ll find elements of progressive, jazz, and even some trace black metal here to really up the ante. And that’s not all; they also toss in some traditionally non-metal instruments such as the saxophone and cello. What you end up with is something that is rooted in doom, yet becomes a bit more uptempo at points to keep from becoming too downtrodden.
For the most part, things stick to the slow and methodical (again, ‘tis doom after all), but the swings from more riff-oriented segments to more somber and clean sections keep it from feeling too much like a slow burn. They also balance moments of gloom (“The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”) and powerful beauty (“Doom Over Valiria”) with ease. Some songs have sparse vocals (outside the instrumentals), with saxophone seemingly taking their place, providing the occasional jazzy edge. The vocals themselves are mostly clean, with some occasional low-in-the-mix growls but they work within the frame of the music. A final note is how they use samples that pertain to the songs themselves, and even with repeated listens, they don’t get boring or grate on the nerves as many of these types of things often do.
If you can deal with the more deliberate pacing and some saxophone usage, Thanathonaut is worth checking out. The broad path of influences and sounds the band pulls from give Narrow House a flavor all to their own.