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Thou - "Tyrant" (CD)

Thou - "Tyrant" CD cover image

"Tyrant" track listing:

1. Tyrant (8:29)
2. With a Cold, Life Extinguishing Elegance (6:31)
3. Fucking Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean (6:30)
4. I Was Ignored. And Judged. And Cast Down (6:32)
5. Monstrance (6:29)
6. What Blood Still Flows From These Veins (12:06)
7. Acceptance (11:48)

Reviewed by on September 10, 2008

"This is the sort of music that sludge fans use to define the words massive, slow and heavy."

Thou is the type of sludge that has spent too long in the dark. Thou is the type of doom that has fallen past any sanity of High On Fire proportions and has slipped into a droning, screaming, drugged out mess. Naturally of course, this equates to musical greatness. Welcome to "Tyrant;" the lava crawling down the mountainside; the impending weight of a crushingly distorted musical extremity.

So enough blathering you say, what the hell does that even really mean? Well, Thou are ultimately a band of several not unfamiliar faces. Fortunately they have the song writing know-how to be able to combine these without sounding contrived or forced. As the main ingredient of this metal melting pot, extreme sludge/doom acts as a base from which Weed Eater and Burning Witch would be close cousins to. Though not reaching the unstructured fog of noise of a Khanate release, "Tyrant" comes with the obligatory ambient drone sections, which are as the sleepful wanderings of a hibernating beast before it wakes in a screaming rage. And Thou's screamer does not disappoint. The vocals coming from the ever present front man are some serious black metal-meets-sludge agony, which, although is nothing new (Forgotten Tomb, Sunn O))) etc.), utterly intensifies the "Tyrant" experience. Things immediately descend into drone sludge hell a few tracks in - what more needs to be said about a track like "Fucking Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean?" This is the sort of music that sludge fans use to define the words massive, slow and heavy.

However as mentioned, "Tyrant" is a beast of many faces. Along with black metal, Thou also has some clear post-rock influences and when the music isn't gnashing the jaws of doom, it’s a sombre atmosphere not unlike Agalloch or the well known Isis. This really takes the place of the stoner influence of a normal sludge release, so stoner-groove fans should note that this much darker than any Crowbar release. There are some beautiful pieces such as the album closer, "Acceptance," which contrasts (and gives a good break from) the rasped screams. It's clear Thou made a good choice to reach out to more than just the sludge/drone elite by softening this up, with no damage to metal or songwriting cred in the process.

As Burning Witch and Khanate are some of my favourite bands, it was hard for me not to like this album, and if droning sludge/doom is your cup of metal tea then picking this up should be a no-brainer; it's an extreme doom classic. However, "Tyrant" is also not a bad intro to the world of extreme doom and drone metal for those who are coming off the lead of prominent acts like Isis or High On Fire and who truly dig the darkness of black metal vocals.

Highs: Interesting combination of extreme drone/doom, black metal and post-rock

Lows: Doesn't push to many boundaries that haven't already been pushed by bands like Khanate

Bottom line: Essential stuff for sludge and extreme doom fans, especially those with epic and soulful tastes

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)