Thantifaxath – Hive Mind Narcosis (Dark Descent Records)

Wednesday, 21st June 2023
Rating: 9 / 10

One of the most potent purveyors of the odd and nearly indescribable, Canada’s Thantifaxath are truly an entity unto themselves. Nobody quite sounds like them, and attempting to pin them down is difficult, being a mix of black metal plus an infinite amount of sounds and influences. The mysterious group have been slowly unleashing music upon us commoners since 2011, with a self-titled EP. A debut album followed in 2014’s Sacred White Noise; a release that put them on the map as an avant-garde phenomenon. The Void Masquerading as Matter EP came in 2017, furthering the band’s mystique, and then there was a modicum of relative silence. Six years passed, and now their highly anticipated sophomore album arrives in the form of Hive Mind Narcosis, and what sights (and sounds) Thantifaxath have to show us.

Immediately apparent when pressing play on Hive Mind Narcosis and first track “Solar Witch” is that the level of sinister tonality has been significantly dialed up. The guitars have a drone-like quality; a buzz like a swarm of not-so-friendly hornets hell bent on annihilation. Structurally, everything projects as increasingly dire, with an energy put forth that runs the listener through a gauntlet of ups and downs. The band described the album’s theme within the promotional materials by stating, “The album has two levels working in dichotomy with one another. On one level there is a strong resistance to something, and on the other there is a total acceptance of that same thing. Beyond that, we leave it open to your interpretation.” That motif fits with the sonic profile provided, and it’s a splendid yin and yang balance of unrequited struggle.

“Surgical Utopian Love” is a mammoth at nearly 11 minutes in length, representing a cultivation of a multitude of stylistic approaches – from quick tremolos and soaring rhythmic blasts, doom-inspired drones, somber electronic tinged sections, and operatic moments of tension-laden duress. The listener is left further reeling, malevolently being ripped to shreds by the varying tempos of black/doom that constitute “The Lost Wisdom of Wolves.” A somewhat optimistic beginning to “Burning Kingdom of Now” leads into a roller coaster ride of murky slow descent into depravity to slivers of hopefulness, and then back down into the doldrums.

Unsettling chants, electronics, and ghostly spoken word segments make up “Blissful Self Disassembly,” leading directly into the mesmerizing tremolos that make the core of “Mind of the Sun,” ending the album on a fittingly discordant note. One has to mention that every element of the album’s sound was completed in-house by the band with no outside influence, and with how massive and cacophonous the sound profile is, they certainly don’t require divergent opinions to achieve their aims. Lest we forget, the stunning painting that adorns the cover is Spanish painter Goya’s 1798 work Vuelo de Brujas – aka Witches’ Flight – a part of a series of 6 works connected to witchcraft, of which have manifested a plethora of scholarly viewpoints on the societal commentary intended. A fitting visual representation, no doubt.

Hive Mind Narcosis is dissonance defined, putting Thantifaxath in the conversation with giants such as Blut Aus Nord and Portal, with a level of hauntingly cold vibes that are only arguably slightly bettered by Hasard’s Malivore and S​ó​l án varma’s debut in 2023. Thantifaxath have further cemented their position as a wholly unique, strikingly proficient collection of musicians out to make music that will ingrain itself into your psyche. We won’t be forgetting Hive Mind Narcosis, and sincerely hope the wait for more isn’t an overly long one.

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