Thou – Heathen (Gilead Media)Thursday, 6th March 2014
Thou’s antiquate wizardry metal alternates from heavy and dark to velvety and mystique. These qualities are exceptionally present in their latest release, Heathen – comprised of momentary melodic instrumentals and broad bodies of sludgy drone/impending doom metal. Of their 28 total releases, Heathen is Thou’s fourth full-length.
The instruments alone are incredibly emotional (not emotive, emotional). Rather than evoking an emotion, they express it. Sometimes sorrowful, like “Into the Marshlands,” the guitars weep waves of riffs to lyrics of desperation, hopelessness, dejection, rejection, abandonment, total social/civil obliteration, and wilderness expansion. Other times, the instruments play violent with power or ripen with docile acoustics. Altogether, Heathen is schematically thematic. “Free Will” foreshadows the title of another song in lyrics – “In defiance of the sages.” Following the themes of Heathen, in “In Defiance of the Sages,” Thou convey time’s inexplicabilities while speaking for the earth’s ever-forming ruins, “only the present can be truly experienced, can be truly known. Deny the ecological soothsayers.” It’s notably attractive how Bryan Funck vocalizes this verse, “deny the ecological soothsayers,” for though he is snarling it, he does so with the impassioned projection of a clean-singer.
While some compositions are complex and lengthy, others are only more or less a minute long. “Take off Your skin and Dance in Your Bones” is a skin-crawling, bone-tingling title of a soulfully lifting, melancholic song. Though only two minutes, Thou utilize every second to create placid ambience and gracefully shift to the next title, the dark ballad “Immortality Dictates.” Led by a mystical charm of echoes and buzzing hums, angelic voices, like sirens of the sea, rise and chant verses. All silenced when the iniquitous Funck enters with his most vindictive vocals. The female vocals return, literally, with love – “you know that I love you.”
Thou art dark, defiant, and militant. The haunting, old, sepia-toned black and white photograph cover art further emphasizes their vintage, raw, stonewashed qualities. With a name like Thou and an album titled Heathen, we know there’ll be some religious context: “join our sad tears and dance on the blackened bones of gods” (“Free Will”).