Thursday, 10 November 2011

#102 Thrall - Away From the Haunts of Men

Yes, their new album was released not long ago, and no, this isn't it. Thrall's first album, titled "Away from the Haunts of Men" has been a review I've been planning to do in quite a long time, and now, despite the new album already on it's way through the post, I feel I aught to review the debut that I've so long intended to. Consequently, here it is.

Coming from Tasmania, not the first place you'd expect to find black-metal, you could assume that there's got to be something a bit different about the band. They're certainly not conventional black metal, that much is certain - the band cast a bleak, weather beaten shadow, instead of the quintessential satanic, blasphemous one that so many bands adopt. The sound reflects this, too - The vibe the music gives is dessicated and barren, as opposed to occult sounding, evocative of the impartial power of nature, and not the malign power of demons and devils. The production comes into play too, although I find myself uncertain of the results - It's quite polish, perhaps excessively so, and I found the drum sound, when in faster sections, to sound annoyingly sterile. The bass guitar is quite prominent in the mix too, which I enjoy to an extent, although it sounds novel, if anything, as opposed to adding much to the sound. With this production taken into account, it's probably just as well that the songwriting is pretty good throughout, which cheers me up about the whole album.

One of the things which is conducive to my enjoyment of the band is how well they handle the slower sections; more atmospheric, and certainly more dark sounding than the faster, relatively conventional sounding faster sections. A good example of this is "Rank Webs", the whole of which is minimalistic, and utterly terrifying, fulled with a suspense and trapped energy which sends shivers down the spine. It's those moments which attracted me to Thrall's sound in the first place, and also which keep me coming back for more. Don't get me wrong, the fast sections are definitely enjoyable, in a late-Burzum meets early-Gorgoroth kind of way, but Thrall are just so damn good at slow, sinister sections - even a small slow bridge between torrents of speed adds a great deal to the songs, it's the seasoning, the certain something which makes Thrall stand out from the crowd, and be more than just another black-metal band.

Overall, a number of the tracks on the album make it worth it, and certainly help me overcome my qualms about the production, and slightly sterile drum sound. Hopefully, the new album will be not only a worthy follower, but also an improvement on this album. It's damn good to listen to some black metal which is a bit different for a change.

I give the album 8/10. 

Thrall Official site.
Thrall on Myspace
Thrall on Facebook
Thrall on Metal-Archives.