On Thorns I Lay – Threnos (Lifeforce)

Sunday, 26th January 2020
Rating: 8/10

Since their 2015 reformation, Greece’s On Thorns I Lay has gracefully strode into their role as melodic doom/death elder statesmen. Such a thought would have been difficult to ponder 17 years ago when the divisive Angeldust was released — the Greeks were traveling a much more experimental and “accessible” path. And while that wasn’t necessarily an uncommon thing to do, On Thorns I Lay drifted into the background, the result of some thinking they went too far too quickly. But, like their more popular contemporaries in My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, there’s always room back on the death-doom bus, something On Thorns I Lay appear to be more comfortable with than ever on Threnos.

Contrary to 2018’s Aegean Sorrow, Threnos proves itself capable of moving mountains with melody, dare we hit upon the alliteration route. The punctuating guitar melodies that move through the album’s two best cuts, “Ouranio Deos” and “Cosmic Silence” are almost decadent in their execution. They spiral, bend and cut through the album’s otherwise deep morass of dread. Concurrently, violins signal further tides of despair, notably on the album’s penultimate closing number, “Odysseia,” a title that is largely symbolic thanks to its elongated nature and subsequent delicate acoustic guitar, female vocal interludes and piano touches.

You could easily stack On Thorns I Lay alongside October Tide — both bands are striving for the same thing, but doing it in slightly different manners. On Thorns I Lay, though, have come through with perhaps their most succinct and direct outing since their comeback, a collection of songs that is melodic death/doom through and through. Threnos is as satisfying as anything they’ve ever done, frankly.

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