Thaw – Grains (Agonia)

Wednesday, 29th November 2017
Rating: 6/10

A tough, pretty claustrophobic go at things on Thaw’s Grains album, which in the limited sphere of experimental black metal, is just a shade above “too avant-garde.” It almost makes one ponder Mayhem circa 2000 and their controversial Grand Declaration of War album, a collection of tunes that bewildered the black metal masses for its unrelenting use of electronics, space, “sung” vocals and anything else that was brewing in the pot. What should have been a monumental effort turned into one of black metal’s most polarizing albums. So when bands like Thaw follow that pattern, they’re going to get the same cold shoulder.

Grains starts off promisingly enough, with “The Brigand” getting off with cymbal crashes and some post-metal riffing, which, if one isn’t paying attention, could move these guys off their BM block. But from there, “The Thief” cuts in with a robotic voice interlude, immediately side-swiping momentum, then the ritualistic, churning “The Cabalist” further shakes the foundation, ending up not quite really a song, but a collection of sounds strung together. “The Harness” is of the same approach – just an empty landscape of noise, while “Wielki Piec” ends up being the only other “song” of the lot.

It’s a challenge, albeit not a purposeful one with Grains. It’s not a question of how far Thaw can take experimental black metal. (Anywhere, really.) It’s a matter of finding that elusive spot where their noise wanderings meet the pavement of their true brooding black metal underbelly, which doesn’t come out nearly enough. Very likely listeners will get lost at “The Thief” and never come back.