Sunday, June 2, 2013

Reviews trio: Tribulation, Monachus, Thrawsunblat

Tribulation – The Formulas of Death
Perhaps this review is a little late to the party on this one, considering many a folk were losing their minds over the new Tribulation record about a month or two ago and hailing it a triumph. They weren’t wrong because that’s very much what The Formulas of Death is, all the while fearlessly taking a few left turns to mix things up a little bit. The Swedish death metal troupe has expanded greatly on their death metal with a new taste of theatrics and ambitiousness. Clocking in at a staggering 74 minutes, The Formulas of Death has a lot to take in but is ultimately rewarding.

They’ve taken their death metal into fresh realms here with new levels of melody and ambition and a flavour of Watain’s penchant for grandeur. There’s even a slight similarity to be heard the odd time between the vocals of Johannes Anderssen and Watain’s Erik Danielsson but that’s where the comparisons end as The Formulas of Death is actually an entirely unique death metal album for 2013. Chances are there won’t be anything else in the DM world released this year that will stand shoulder to shoulder with this record.

Monachus – Below
Monachus maintain good company, releasing records with Alerta Antifascista and playing shows regularly with Light Bearer or Planks. The Swedish psychedelic sludge band is a good accompaniment for sure and after a few releases they’ve been threatening to realise much of their potential and new LP Below sees that realisation begin to bloom.

Crushing sludgy riffs collide with throaty vocals and melodic awareness to craft an enthralling oeuvre on Below. There’s a lot to absorb with this album but once given the time and effort, the results are deeply satisfying. Often a post rock comparison is made to Monachus, and while it rings true a little bit, the band seem far more au fait with trippy ambient sludge than any clichéd post rock formulas and bless them for it.

Thrawsunblat – Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings
After the tragic and untimely passing of Woods of Ypres guitarist and helmsman David Gold in December 2011, his partner in crime and fellow guitarist Joel Violette skulked away into the corner for a while and perhaps understandably so. Little did we know that he had recommenced work on another project of his – Thrawsunblat. Having released one demo back in 2010 it seemed the band has retreated to inactivity but Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings marks their first full-length album.

Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings bears many thematic similarities to Woods of Ypres, with a morose tongue in cheek attitude at times while tactfully plucking elements of black metal and sprinkling them into the pot. However, Thrawsunblat have flirted with many a folk element on this album and it’s a pleasant surprise to hear acoustic-led folk numbers like ‘Goose River (Mourners’ March) and ‘Maritime Shores’ being two of the album’s highlights. Meanwhile, heavier but no less melodic material such as ‘Bones in the Undertow’ delights in equal measure. The major complaint though that could be levelled against this record is its length, it gets a little drawn out and could have done with a trimming of two or three tracks but still overall a solid return for Thrawsunblat.

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