(As a member of the UK Metal scene himself, our man Andy Synn likes to think he has his finger on the pulse – or at least, the prostate – of what artists and albums he needs to be looking out for, but the recently released debut album by THÅRN almost slipped under his radar)
Despite all the setbacks and difficulties of the last couple of years – or maybe, in a sense, because of them – the last twelve months have been an extremely strong and fertile time for the UK Metal scene.
From long absent legends making a killer comeback, to established fan-favourites stepping up their game, to new names and new faces making a serious impact, there’s been no shortage of blackened, deathly, proggy, sludgy, and atmospheric delights for fans the world over to enjoy.
And joining this still-growing list, right at the eleventh hour (or, at least, during the eleventh month) is the debut album from London-based duo Luke Booth and Jérôme Barré – aka THÅRN – whose prodigiously powerful take on the classic Post-Metal formula could easily go toe-to-toe with some of the genre’s biggest and best names.
If you’ve already glanced at the track-list for Collisions you’ll probably have noticed that three of the four tracks on the album have pretty substantial run-times, and while this is pretty par for the course when it comes to this particular style of music, it seems to me that Booth and Barré haven’t just written these songs that way in order to simply follow a familiar formula but have in fact gone the extra mile and nailed that special sweet spot where each one simultaneously feels nowhere near as long as it actually is yet also takes full advantage of the space and time they’ve been given to tell a much more expansive story.
The TLDR explanation for this is that they’ve managed to pack each composition with a real sense of urgency and immediacy while also paying careful attention to the sense of contrast and flow between each and every part, breaking the songs down into distinct movements which – even at their most ambient and atmospheric – still maintain their energy and momentum.
The slightly longer way of putting this is that THÅRN’s particular brand of Post-Metal is one which hasn’t forgotten that it’s meant to be a more versatile variant of Sludge, rather than just a heavier version of Post-Rock, and as such retains a weighty heft and substantial sonic presence – even during its calmest and quietest moments – that many of their more introverted and/or navel-gazing peers simply aren’t able to deliver.
It’s also worth noting that by maintaining this rougher, rawer edge to their sound (in contrast to many so-called and self-proclaimed “Post-Metal” bands who prefer a more polished and pristine aesthetic) that while they may not be walking precisely in their shoes, the band are still very much following in the footsteps of their name-sake – the much-loved and dearly-departed Post-Crust prodigies known as Fall of Efrafa – whose music took a similarly oblique (and unique) path between aggressive and atmospheric, doom-laden and dream-like.
Now, don’t take what I’ve written here the wrong way, I’m not contending that THÅRN have totally reinvented the wheel or anything, but Collisions is such a strong and self-assured album – from the subdued, yet almost “blackened” intensity of “The Way”, the bleak, brooding slow-build of “Replacements” and the haunting gloom of “Mute”, to the punky, sludgy catharsis of “Shadow of Another” – that it quickly and confidently marks the band out as “ones to watch” and a band to keep a very close eye (or ear) on in the future.