ReviewsThola – Unseen (Art Gates Records)

Thola – Unseen (Art Gates Records)

Translating to ‘wolf’ in an ancient east-Indian language, Thola is a Swiss act formed by guitarist Rolf ‘Rodo’ Studer in 2016. Releasing two independent albums before signing with Art Gates Records for their third release Somewhere in 2021, the band combines influences across the melodic power, thrash, and heavy metal landscapes. Unseen as the latest record continues the quintet’s diverse attack, the melodic vocals a standout feature along with a steady guitar attack that keeps the proceedings razor sharp – pulling from influences across the 80s/90s North American and European movements while injecting occasional modern tricks that could appeal to a younger generation.

Throughout these eleven main tracks these musicians supply easy to ingest musical/vocal hooks, properly supporting the framework with key circular runs or steady rhythm section work that provides instant appeal as well as consistent turnaround for repeat playbacks. The occasional use of keyboard nuances enhances the already uplifting rhythms of Patrick Ambord and Rolf, allowing the subsequent softer to heavier transitions or superior Geoff Tate-like vocal harmonies courtesy of Thomi Rauch to push “Killer of the Beast” to upper-level supremacy, think Judas Priest taking on a thrashier version of older Queensrÿche. Bluesy, groovy riffs penetrate “Atmosphere”, the rhythm section parts of bassist Thommy Ambiel and drummer Sven Imsand solid as well as providing that extra walking lift to keep the crunchy, Savatage-esque textures pure. The modern angst enters in places for “A 1000 Times”, the melodic lead break along with Thomi’s thoughtful vocal delivery keeping the song still catchy throughout all the sonic twists that take place. While many artists would frontload their records with speedier affairs, Thola proves with “Playground” that punishing double kick melodic thrash with sideways melodic transitions still has its place for those who miss Nevermore next to Bay Area intensity. V.O. Pulver (Gurd, Poltergeist) provides that mixing/mastering cherry on top to keep the sound lean, mean, and in your face no matter what the preferred listening device you chose to engage with.

Previously aware of the band from Somewhere, it’s evident that Thola encompasses a wide range of subgenres for Unseen which works well because of the obvious skill sets and talent contained within its members. Ideal for those who love the melodic side of power/thrash where the song trumps all.

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8.5 / 10