This latest installment of the MISCELLANY series is really a carry-over from the immediately preceding installment. I originally picked four bands to explore for that installment, but by the time I began writing about the fourth one I decided the post was already so long that people might lose patience before reaching the end — particularly when they discovered the length of the last song. So I carved out the last band, and they’re the subject of this post.
And as a reminder about the way MISCELLANY works: I randomly pick bands whose music I’ve never heard (usually bands whose names I’ve never heard either), I listen to one recent track from each of them (though sometimes I cheat and listen to more than one), I write my impressions, and I stream the music so you can judge for yourselves.
This pick was truly a random choice. After reviewing the new album by Progenie Terrestre Pura earlier this month, I made a mental note to explore the web site of the long-running label that released the album, Avantgarde Music. I finally did that yesterday. I found lots of bands whose music I’d never heard before. Being short on time, I picked one to explore, and I honestly have no explanation for the selection I made.
The band’s name is THACLTHI, which means “in silence” in the ancient Etruscan language, and they appear to reside in the town of Volterra (or “Velathri” as the Etruscans called it) in the Tuscany region of Italy. They have a new album named …Erat Ante Oculos that was released on tape last month by Unholy Domain Records and will be released by Avantgarde on November 13, 2013.
I found one song named “Ixaxaar” that Avantgarde started streaming only yesterday. It turned out to be roughly 22 minutes long! But I had already picked it for this MISCELLANY column, so I swallowed hard and hit play — and then I was the one who was swallowed up whole by what followed. A dominating phalanx of howling guitar noise and booming, bounding, tumbling percussion generates a tumultuous wave of doom and death while the vocalist howls hoarsely and shrieks savagely (and chants cleanly). For much of the ride, the riffing generates a near-solid wall of distortion, with the truly astounding drumwork grabbing much of the attention.
But with a 22-minute run-time you expect, and you get, breaks in the attack. The riff-storm subsides in the song’s transfixing mid-section, to be replaced by a bowing of the guitar strings (!), reverberating melodic chords, the sound of Tibetan singing bowls (!), and gun-shot strikes on the toms. The storm resumes in the song’s final seven minutes, flooding the landscape with doom, dread, and dementia all over again while a psychedelic lead guitar line writhes its way through the dense murk. And if you think the drumming is nuts during the first two-thirds of the song, wait ’til you hear the finish. Completely. Off. The. Hook.
Thaclthi’s music is both atmospheric and galvanizing, hypnotic and powerfully jolting — one of the best pieces of blackened death/doom I’ve heard all year. How strange is it that this comes via a band and a song I came across completely haphazardly?
“Ixaxaar” is only one of four songs on …Erat Ante Oculos, and gods help me, I had to see if I could find another one. And I did. I found the second track on the album, “E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldiquà”, streaming on Bandcamp.
It’s more than 15 minutes long. At the start it’s an assault of methodical drum pummeling, huge buzzing guitars, and a wailing voice. After the intro it collapses into a grinding doom-crawl, clawing and dragging its way through the listener’s cranium. Spurred on by increasingly complex drum progressions, the song gradually begins to accelerate and to become more unhinged. More horrific vocals, more serpentine guitar leads, more total domination. Before the end comes, THACLTHI bring a reprise of that terrifically heavy, black-as-the-pit doom-crawl, which vibrates with lethal radioactive energy. Utterly crushing and utterly fascinating.
I guess I’ve managed to review half the album. The balance consists of one more original track, “Hinthial”, and a cover of a song named “The Trip Was Infra Green” by Finland’s Unholy from their 1993 album From the Shadows. Somehow, I must get my hands on those songs, too.
By the way, bowing the guitar is pretty rare in metal, as it is in other forms of music. But hearing it in THACLTHI’s music reminded me of Jimmy Page’s use of the bowing technique in Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused”. And that’s such a great song that I’m going to drop it in right after the two tracks I’ve just discussed.
Is sure as hell hope that THACLTHI get the attention they deserve among devotees of death/doom and blackened death metal, because they really deserve it.