Thou - _Peasant_
(Autopsy Kitchen, 2008)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (8.5 out of 10)
Don't know what it is about Louisiana that brings out the mired-in-tar thickened sludge sound, but whatever, keep it coming. Thou are on their sophomore album -- the first for these ears -- and seem to have their sights set on the top of the blackened doom / earthy sludge heap. Primarily sticking to the kind of slow, unworldly tempos mandated by the use of massively detuned guitars, off rhythm, improvised percussion (heavy on the hi hats) pulling down the diversifying quota, _Peasant_ does little to telegraph its evolution from one song to another, but whether listening actively or passively one never gets a sense of repetition. "The Work Ethic Myth" has an almost Crowbar-like sense of undertow and dirge-like sorrow. And while the lyrics don't delve too deeply into the plight of the blue collar class, I've certainly heard much worse lyrics this year than "We are the accomplice class: footstools for our masters, spineless bastards all".

Thou offer that relatively brief opener before diving right into the album's magnum opus, "An Age Imprisoned", an extended gaze into a musical abyss in which the guitars drop one chord after another into the fathomless black, pausing a bar or two to listen for an echo that isn't coming. By the seven minute mark even the drums and vocals have been swallowed whole. "Burning Black Coals and Dark Memories" retains the blackened doom foundation while adding a veneer of shard like post-metal guitar riffs. "The Road of Many Names" ultimately finishes things off with a quicker, more typically southern feel, maybe early High on Fire played with old Carcass / Bolt Thrower tuning. Throughout it's the instrumentation that shines, Bryan Funck's vocals being subsumed by the sheer vacuum of brutality the guitars and rhythm section generate in their wake. It's difficult to say whether this is due to Funck's merely serviceable chops or whether it's the production itself hamstringing his abilities. Tell you what though: next time they roll through town I'm up for giving him a chance to prove himself where it counts.


(article published 5/10/2008)

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