Thornium was a band I was considering for our usual Sunday installment of The Rearview Mirror. Throneum was a band I was considering for this Sunday’s installment of Shades of Black. And then in rapid succession last night I came across songs by Thoren and Thornspawn that Facebook friends had posted on their pages. How could I resist?
Well, obviously, I couldn’t. And so rather than isolate Thornium in a Rearview Mirror post, I’ve compiled this selection of songs instead.
Sweden’s Thornium recorded a demo in 1994, and their debut album Dominions of the Eclipse was released in 1995 by a label named Necromantic Gallery Productions. Two other albums followed that one (after a few stints in prison for the band’s founder Daniel “Thypheuz” Munoz), Mushroom Clouds and Dusk in 2009 and Fides Luciferius in 2010. The band’s Facebook page includes a note from May of 2015 indicating that they were set to record a new album that summer, with the title of Deathcatharsis, but I’ve seen no further news about that. When it is complete, it appears that Soulseller Records will release it.
Dominions of the Eclipse was recorded under the influence of such Norwegian groups as Emperor, Satyricon, and Darkthrone. It was reissued in 2011 by Soulseller Records in a CD version that included two new bonus tracks and the band’s first demo from 1994. What I’ve included below is a YouTube stream of Dominions of the Eclipse, plus one of those two bonus tracks from the album’s reissue, “Remain In Chaos” — which was written in 1995 but recorded for the album reissue.
The album exhibits the high, tinny, buzzing-guitar tone of many demos and albums from the era in which it appeared; the vocals sound like ice cracking and panthers being strangled; and the drumming regularly steals the show. The album also includes a big collection of cold, fierce riffs — but perhaps the most interesting songs (and perhaps also the best ones) are those which also incorporate somber keyboards, and the final track is a beautiful, cosmic ambient piece. (If you go to YouTube to hear the album, you’ll find an index to the songs that allows you to move among them.)
As one would expect, “Remain In Chaos” exhibits the sound of a more modern production as compared to the album, but it’s still blood-freezing and heartless — and very good. Be careful or it will get stuck in your head.
Throneum are based in Poland, with roots that can be traced back to 1996. Since then they’ve released seven albums, and the most recent of those — Morbid Death Tales — just came out on October 14 through Hells Headbangers. Two of the songs from that album, “Cacus” and “Darkness From Another Circle (II)” — are streaming on Bandcamp.
Throneum have proclaimed, “If you aren’t into Necrovore, Sadistik Exekution, Mortem, Order From Chaos, Imperator, Asphyx, Mayhem, and Merciless – keep away from THRONEUM! That’s pure Total Death!” Well, I pass that test, and so I didn’t stay away.
Slow, dismal, and crackling with distortion, the intro to the album’s final track “Cacus” begins blanketing the senses with foreboding, and it becomes increasingly sinister as the vocalist continues his grim pronouncements and the song’s morbid riff continues to hammer itself into your head, with wisps of hallucinatory lead guitar, ambient melody, and bursts of thumping drums as accents to the spellcasting.
“Darkness…” comes much earlier in the album, and although its atmosphere is equally bleak and threatening, the blazing drum performance and bone-grinding bass give it a more vigorous and voracious energy. As in “Cacus”, the guitar has a fuzzy, almost warm tone, which is an interesting sound in a song that’s otherwise chilling. Actually, this whole song is very interesting and very appealing — together, both tracks make listening to the entire album an urgent need.
Unlike the first two bands in this collection and the last one, Thoren are a relatively new instrumental group from Sterling Heights, Michigan. Their debut album Brennenburg will be released on October 28. It includes guest solos by Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlager on “Depraved Dreams” and by John Strieder on the title track.
Two songs from the album — “Unnerved” and “Mull” — can be heard via Bandcamp. Both are dark and heavy manifestations of twisting, turning, technical death metal with elements of progressive and post-metal styling in the mix as well. The songs include booming grooves, but the guitar machinations and flights of drum and bass inventiveness give the music an air of derangement as well. The extended guitar solo in “Mull” is a special highlight, so don’t miss it. Very promising….
Thornspawn are from San Antonio, Texas, with a discography that goes back to 1996. The band’s last album (their third) was released nine years ago. Metal-Archives tells us that since then they’re released six splits, the last of which was three years ago.
I confess that until last night I hadn’t heard any of this band’s music. But a Facebook friend installed a song called “I, The Great Incinerator of Diseased Jerusalem” on his page, and I decided to check it out. I’ve done some searching on Metal-Archives and haven’t found the song among Thornspawn’s previous releases, so I’m guessing it’s something new (it appeared on YouTube for the first time just yesterday).
The song is absolutely frenzied and ferocious, raw and rapacious, thanks in part to the barbarous vocals — but the high tremolo melody also sticks in the head. Thornspawn are clearly still channeling the vibe from the Scandinavian black metal of their early days, but based on this song, they’re doing it very well.