Thorn – Evergloom (Transcending Obscurity)Friday, 15th September 2023
The year of death/doom continues on, friends. This time around, the featured act is Arizona’s Thorn; the solo project of Brennen Westermeyer, who also plies his trade in the grindcore arena with the aptly named Fluids. Having released an EP, and four splits, and a duo of full-lengths since forming in 2020, Westermeyer certainly can’t be accused of being devoid of material. Up to now, none of those releases had particularly gripped these ears – there’s an astute heaviness, but thus far lacking that extra grandiosity that could potentially make the music more memorable. Nevertheless, Thorn continues to not sit still, and we’re presented with their third album in the form of Evergloom.
A brief but slick opener in “Spectral Realms of Ethereal Light” begins proceedings promisingly, showcasing a catchy lead amongst a mass of sheer death metal brutality. A tiny hint of Westermeyer’s grind background peeks in small intervals as well, being a unique element that most music of this ilk doesn’t draw upon. Doom influences surface within “Xenolith of Slime,” covered in a slower pace of drawn out riffs and squealing blackened leads to go along with deeply guttural vocal treatments. If an eerie atmosphere is one’s pleasure, “Hypogean Crypt” and “Gaze of the Seer” flow back-to-back with a thick mist of droning guitar work. The beginning of Evergloom especially highlights that grandiosity that was absent in Thorn’s previous works, and they’re much the better for finding it.
Harkening back to the grindcore background of Westermeyer, there’s a relatively large bit of that chaotic quickness in “Wastelands Dimly Lit” and “Sapien Death Spiral,” stomping the listener via a directness that is surprising, and despite not totally losing established atmospheric qualities, the balance is ultimately thrown off. The title track closes the album, bringing back the doom associated tempos and meaty riffs, accompanied by a welcome return of that chilling aural murkiness, wrapping up Evergloom nicely.
On the production side, Evergloom is by far the best that Thorn has ever sounded, capturing a foreboding feel that this style of music needs to show its best self. The artwork also deserves a shout, canvassing a cavernously grim piece that fits the music superbly. Where the album occasionally stumbles is a loss of focus that doesn’t maintain the bone chilling darkness that Evergloom emphasizes through the first four tracks, losing chunks of that before recovering brilliantly with the final self-titled piece. While the grind elements are strong when weaved with the overarching death/doom assault, when they’re a more prominent focus in this specific section of the record, the coherence takes a hit with these shorter and more chaotic entries.
Thorn have moved forward and improved upon previous works with Evergloom, easily resulting in the project’s best album to date. There are still some moments that took this scribe’s brain out of the dark and ominous that felt misplaced, harming the overall flow. The many high points, however, form an intriguing slab of grim death/doom metal filled with wondrous peril. Thorn gets more right than wrong on Evergloom, exhibiting a talented songwriter progressing towards their magnum opus.