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Thergothon > Stream from the Heavens > Reviews
Thergothon - Stream from the Heavens

Are you tired yet? - 90%

Slater922, April 12th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2000, CD, Avantgarde Music (Reissue)

Thergothon has a very interesting history in metal. They were one of the first bands to make funeral doom metal, a genre that mixes in the slowness of doom metal and the growling and hardness of death metal. However, due to some issues with their label, the band ended up splitting up a year before their debut album was released, so with only two demos and one studio album, it makes their time in metal a rather short one. However, "Stream from the Heavens" is a fantastic start for the funeral doom genre and would go on to inspire many bands to utilize the genre.

One very unique element to the album is the instruments. Being one of the first funeral doom albums, it sets the standard for the genre very well. The guitars play some very slow riffs, and their distortion gives the riffs a more dark and grim atmosphere. The drums are also very relaxed, as they have little beats that are spread throughout each track and set the slow mood for each track well. You also get some keyboards that play some drone-like tunes like the ones in the track "Everlasting". Some of my favorite instrumentals are from "Everlasting", "Elemental", and "Crying Blood + Crimson Snow" since those tracks execute the funeral doom sound the best. There are a couple of times where the repetition of the riffs can be a bit tiresome, but for the most part, the instrumentals are overall excellent.

Another interesting thing about the album is the vocals. Niko Skorpio and Jori Sjöroos do the vocals on this album, and they're pretty good. The vocals have a mix of melodic singing and deep growls, and the contrast between them could've been improved a bit. For example, in the track "Elemental", the vocals start off with some deep growls that bring in an atmosphere of doom and pain, which is great. However, when it gets to the more saddened singing, the transition feels abrupt and unexpected, making the overall transition feel rushed. There are also a couple of moments where the two vocal styles sing together, and it sounds poor. The vocals themselves are good, but in execution, they're the weakest part of the album.

What isn't weak though are the lyrics. The lyrics themselves are pretty short when compared to the long times for most of the tracks. However, they have some good lyrical qualities. For example, in the track "Yet the Watchers Guard", this verse quotes:

Enormous buildings of slimy black stone
Built by hands not similar to man
On a black star near Aldebaran
Twisted sky of poison clouds


The lyrics about the building of the watcher's guard's tower have an unique description of the process and gives the tower a rather menacing feel. The lyrics are also executed well on this track, since the harsh and dark atmosphere of the song make the story about the guards seem depressing. One of my favorite lyrics on this album will have to go to "Crying Blood + Crimson Snow", since the lyrical themes of death are very descriptive and poetic and are further enhanced by the drone-like keyboards and the distorted guitar riffs. The lyrics on this album are amazing, and they work well with the heartbreaking tone of the instruments.

Overall, "Stream from the Heavens" is easily one of the best funeral doom album of the 1990s. The instrumentals execute the slow and depressing atmosphere very well, and the lyrics are detailed and poetic. As I've stated earlier in the intro, Thergothon ended up breaking up a year before this album got released, and quitting before/after releasing your debut album seems to be a common trend with these funeral doom metal bands. Regardless, this album is great, and I strongly recommend it for those who are in the mood for a more sad experience.

I think I don't get it - 45%

BuriedUnborn, March 2nd, 2020

I never actually sat down and decided to listen to an entire funeral doom album. In fact, I never cared about this genre, it wasn't anywhere in my radar of music, but I've always liked heavy and atmospheric compositions, with nice harmonies and melodic, yet sad or depressing riffs. This is what I've got from the few funeral doom artist I heard until this point, and I thought that if I wanted to get into this genre, I should start with what it's regarded as the first ever album in this genre and also one of the best ones in its story... but I didn't get what I was expecting.

You can tell me that I don't know anything about music, that I'm an idiot and I can appreciate such a masterpiece, or that I don't like funeral doom at all, but to be honest, none of those is true (except for all of them, maybe). I've liked the funeral doom I've heard before this, as well as what I've heard after it, and this is, so far, the only band I didn't find enjoyment in. This album has 6 tracks and it lasts almost 41 minutes, these are all long songs, and I'm ok with the length of them. They're all played at very slow tempos (I don't think this album ever goes above 60 BPM or so), and they all share one thing in common: the ability to make you fall asleep with extreme ease.

Those who love this album might already be cringing and would surely hit me in the face if they ever get a chance, but I have my reasons to dislike "Stream from the Heavens". First of all, there's a huge lack of good riffs, 75% of the songs are just sustained power chords played in what seems to be an A standard tuning (for extra thickness of the chords) and a Dorian minor scale in most of them (except for Elemental and probably tracks 5 and 6 which seem to be in a melodic minor scale), which means that some songs have an evil, somewhat-chromatic sound and chord progression, while others have a sad, melodic atmosphere and sound to them. When I hear atmospheric songs, I like them to be preferably melodic, depressing, dark, instead of evil, low-key brutal, as most tracks in this release are. Still touching this topic, there's almost no addition over these sustained power chords, you can rarely hear some arpeggios and at some parts of some songs there's a lead guitar, but nothing else at all. One of the best ways to make a good atmosphere in slow songs is using things like arpeggios, natural harmonics, some licks with reverb, and there's almost no use of this anywhere in this album except in "Everlasting" and "Elemental", which are the only songs I can think of that have this.

I might be being harsh with this album considering it was the first work in this genre and over the years different artists would perfect it, but it still doesn't take away the fact that there was a huge lack of ideas in the songwriting process of these songs. Thankfully, most songs are not just 8 minutes of 5th chords in downtuned guitars; various songs also have some melodic bridges, with clean and/or acoustic guitars and what seem to be MIDI organs or brass instruments (I can't actually tell to be honest). Can't blame them for using MIDI stuff if the y didn't have the necessary instruments back then, since many recordings of this kind and era used MIDI instruments as it was a new technology back then (and now it's a laughable meme thing). In one of the songs, honestly I can't remember which one it was because they all sound the same to me (except for "Elemental"), the song's bridge has a clean guitar, which to me seemed to be severely out of tune, and it had a terrible tone that didn't fit well wit the song at all, and that's one of the things that can somewhat ruin an entire song to me, and it's an insight that for me, affects in the entire release, due to an apparent lack of professionalism from the members of the band.

PS: I forgot to mention that there's also a presence of a synth in most of the songs, which definitely sounds like a MIDI to me, and it seeks to add to the atmosphere of the album, but never achieves it because of how terrible it sounds and how it lacks a good presence.

To add to the overall boredom of the release, the vocals are certainly bad. The album opens with what seems to be a burp with reverb, and basically the guttural vocals sound like a burp, they're certainly uncomfortable to listen to and overall ruin the entire vocal aspect of the album. The clean choirs aren't much better either. The drums are extremely simplistic, so simple in fact that anyone with some hand-to-feet coordination can make a drum cover of this whole album, and the bass... is there even a bass? The credits say no, apparently. If there even was a bass it would be tuned so low that it would cause a mini earthquake whenever it's played.

All of this brings us to my last point: the audio and overall production quality of this album. Let's be honest, the audio quality is bad, I don't know if this was recorded independently in some small amateur studio, in a professional studio or in one of the member's house, but it's definitely not great. I totally understand that this was recorded in 1992, and that the Thergothon's members most probably couldn't afford making a professional studio recording, so I guess I can let that pass, since I can't find any source referring to where and how this was recorded, but it sounds like it was probably done with a 4-track or something similar, probably all instruments in one take, not recorded separately, probably even recorded in one go. The mixing is bad, the drums are audible in the background, and they sound extremely bleak, the guttural vocals are somewhat loud while the clean backing vocals are certainly low in volume, the guitar lacks of a thick tone, or at least a thick-enough tone, it doesn't sound as deep as it should, and I don't mean by it's tuning, but by how it was thrown into the mix, it doesn't flood your headphones as I would expect it to, not sure if you get what I mean (but all of this might be just my headphones anyway). The lack of bass is also a great problem, because there's a lack of a "floor" to put in some way in the music, there's nothing giving these songs the deepness they need to sound as I would expect them to.

Although this album is definitely not what I was expecting and certainly disappointed me, at the end of the day everyone has different opinions on the matter. Many praise this album and regard it as the best funeral doom recording ever, while I only see its flaws and can't actually find much enjoyment in it. I could give this album a 20%, even a 10%, considering how I criticized it in this review, but I understand that this is nothing but a prototype of what would later become a full-fledged genre with tons of great bands and artists, and I understand that this is an old recording by some guys who had an idea, and tried to execute it as well as possible, and the results were praised by many, but not me.

I really wanted to like this album, but I can't find myself able to. I'd still recommend this to anyone, any day, because I'm one of the few who seemed to dislike this release, and I'm pretty sure that somebody else might find it very enjoyable, like many did before and many might do in the future. The only song I take from this album is "Elemental" to be honest, the rest are a big "meh" for me.

I might consider playing this album whenever I can't sleep from now on though, because it will surely take me to the realm of dreams in the time before the first track ends.

Like the Demo, But Not As Essential - 76%

Deathdoom1992, July 26th, 2016

How do you follow one of the most esteemed and pioneering releases in the history of metal? Answer: You don't. That's right, Thergothon completely melted trying to follow up their defining work, and this lack of ability to produce said follow up really only adds to the influence of the demo, the title of which I am fully aware but that I have no great interest in typing, so it'll be henceforth referred to as "The Demo". Anyways, they did eventually bash out the follow up which I sit here reviewing, but it came at a great price. The stresses of recording it and the delays in the release when it was finally completed led the band to decide they'd had enough and bailed out after just three years. Oh well, at least they do have that revered demo to cement their legacy.

I won't discuss what the future held for the members since I already typed that long-ass paragraph whilst reviewing the demo. I will discuss what happened within the band surrounding this release though. First, Niko Sirkiä adopted keys before the recording to try and give this more atmosphere. Well, the one thing this couldn't top the demo on would be atmosphere. Personally, I'd try and up the songwriting and, given the reception the previous release had, stay the fuck away from everything else (take note, Metallica). I'm tempted to cursorily give this a low rating, for blithely ignoring the phrase "If it ain't broke don't fix it", but that wouldn't be fair now, would it? To be true to you all I have to give this a rating based on it's merits, unfortunately. Large digression aside, let's talk about the album. Well, remember that distinctive twin guitar sound on the demo? Gone. Second guitarist Sami Kaveri quit due to the stresses of recording this damn thing. And when they did finally record it, they couldn't find a label to release it, so they broke up (out of distress, probably, they'd gone through so much distress to record it, and no-one would release it). Tiny silver lining here: the tiny Italian label which did release it, Avantgarde, have become a pretty large underground label. But that's about the only good that came of the decision to make this record.

Those paragraphs may have given you a somewhat negative impression of this release, but if I'm really honest with myself, it's not that bad. In fact, in terms of songs it's actually quite good, hence the overinflated score. I give the band even more points for actually pulling such a decent effort out of the situation. We've got the excellent "Everlasting" (wow, these guys love songs beginning with "E"), the delicate "The Unknown Kadath in the Cold Waste", which threatens to descend into crap at any moment but never does, thrilling you and keeping you on your toes. Also, that title is a veritable wet dream for Lovecraft fans such as myself (as if the demo wasn't). Finally, the re-recorded "Yet the Watchers Guard" is, and this is painful to type, far superior to the demo version. Also superior to the demo is the production, crystal clear and actually rather wonderful.

However, "Elemental" was always just a bad idea. Their signature song re-recorded. No. It was always going to be the bastard child. I actively shuddered when I saw it on the track listing, and Shock, Horror it's disappointing. It's actually not too far from the original "Yet the Watchers Guard" sound-wise. And all I'm gonna say about "Crying Blood and Crimson Snow" is that it's a poor choice for a closer and sounds like a failed My Dying Bride experiment. Elsewhere, the musicianship is tamer, it's less raw and it's just generally a downgrade from the influence of, yes, I'm going to say it again, THE DEMO.

In conclusion, hell, it's not bad, it's even better than decent, but it just isn't as good as it should be on paper. You want real funeral doom? Go bask in the excellence of, and I'm going to type it for the one and only time, the Fhtagn nagh Yog-Sothoth demo. That said, given the situation, major props to the band for pulling something this good out of their asses (or one collective ass maybe?), but it did seem like the whole music industry conspired to fuck Thergothon up. And that fact is more depressing than any of the songs contained on here... You know the Napalm Death album Enemy of the Music Business. Yeah, well it's not some British grind act, it's some plucky Fins who just wanted to be depressing.

Track highlights: "Everlasting", "Yet the Watchers Guard", "The Unknown Kadath in the Cold Waste"

Devastating - 100%

Nokturnal_Wrath, August 3rd, 2014

As a natural depressive, I'm inclined to music that matches my mood. Whether that's either slowcore, trip hop, country, depressive black metal or doom metal, I often find myself listening to emotional and depressing music. Thergothon's Stream from the Heavens certainly ticks all the right boxes for me; slow almost dirge like depressive music. Whilst most reviewers have focused on how depressing and inaccessible this album is (both valid points mind you) not as much focus is being placed on just how damn unique this album is.

This album is slow, even by funeral doom standards this is really slow. The music contained within is a serious of endlessly drawn out chords backed by a lethargic drum and bass performance and low, whispered growls. Stream from the Heavens is the embodiment of funeral doom, so much so that this is the album I measure up all funeral doom by. This album, along with Last Tape Before Doomsday and Dooom really personifies what the genre should stand for. Slow, bleak and monolithic walls of sound going through a very slow state of evolution. A previous reviewer said something along the lines that this album conjures up images of a sole person solemn and alone and I am inclined to agree with this statement. This isn't the world ending with a bang, but rather withering away into desolation.

The production is often the most talked about aspect of this release and it is easy to see why. Unlike other funeral doom bands whose guitar tone is huge and all encompassing, Thergothon's is weak, at times almost reaching black metal levels of thinness. Ironically though, the riffs that Thergothon play a much bigger than their contemporaries despite the low production. The weird bassy feedback might be hard to digest on the first couple of listens (understandably so) but with subsequent listens the feedback is revealed as a necessity. The dark, dreary, even primordial atmosphere the band creates is perfectly channeled through the production.

Unfortunately, with such focus placed on the production it is easy to forget the underlying instrumentation. Funeral doom, by nature, is sparse and minimalistic, yet Thergothon takes this to a whole new level. With near drone like levels of tempo, the music feels almost static when compared to their contemporaries. However, there is a lot more going on here than is immediately apparent. There's a clever use of riff changes throughout, with transitions being so seamless they can be missed entirely. Sparse use of strange sci fi sounding synth lines add tonal variation along with the vocals which alternate between a hushed growl and haunting clean vocals. The Unknown Kadath in the Cold Waste perfectly presents the bands variety, where the slow dirge like riffing gives way to extremely melancholic and somber folk like guitar playing. It's a surprising turn of events but one that is no less harrowing.

When compared to a lot of other funeral doom albums this album isn't powerful in terms of heaviness and intensity. Power isn't what the band was going for. But rather a pure representation of depression, whilst many people will most likely criticize the supposed lack of musicianship, the atmosphere and emotion is absolutely flawless and should be judged on that alone. Stream from the Heavens is the absolute perfect album for when you long for something depressing to the very limit of possibility. It's slow, harrowing and painfully hard to digest, yet stands as a testament to all doom metal bands out there. Essential for any funeral doom fan.

A Masterpiece - 100%

TheCureIsDeath, June 27th, 2013

To say Stream From the Heavens is good would be an understatement. It's a monolith, a testament to swirling winds and autumnal depression. It's the embodiment of depression. The guitars sound like the gentle washing of water along the shoreline, and the drums pound a slow beat, a march towards the burial. Thergothon manage to craft something truly amazing here, not just something that rides off of it's legendary status.

Many say that Thergothon were the first funeral doom band, and while I disagree (Mordor has that distinction, with traces of industrial, ambient, and black metal mixed with the funeral doom), I do believe Thergothon perfected it. The way the keys hover uneasily above the swirling, effected guitars, the way the dirty and clean vocal harmonies play throughout the first track; it's all here. Speaking of the first track, “Everlasting” opens the album up with the growls we are all used to. Then, as mentioned before, clean vocals come in, but they sound distant. It might have been unintentional, but they created a very desolate song, a portrait of being lost and alone. The guitars swirl in a melancholic way throughout the song, and drums pound the doomed beat. It's the perfect way to start an album.

The second track, “Yet The Watchers Guard”, is even slower than the first track, but not lacking the swirling, gothic guitars of the first. It does something I've never heard replicated in funeral doom since, with the guitars building up somewhat, then cutting off for an eerie keyboard noise, then cutting in again. It's quite beautiful, and it happens many times in the song. The vocals are mostly rough in this song, and it really showcases the vocal talents of Niko Skorpio; this man can growl. He sounds like a beast, not even half a man in his vocals. It reminds me almost of Mournful Congregation's singer, the way he almost removes the human element. This song moves nicely into the melancholy of the third track.

Moving on, the third track of this album, “The Unknown Kadeth In The Cold Waste”, is really a work of art, more than a piece of music. The vocals echo throughout the first part of the song, and are clean. The guitars do the standard swirl, while the keys hover above. The song doesn't really become amazing until the vocals stop, the guitars become clean, and the keys are turned up. Gentle guitar strumming, with sorrowful picking, and the melancholic progression of the keys makes this track quite beautiful. Like anything good, it only last for a short while before going back to growls and swirling guitars. It is a moment of beauty, with no words, only the strumming and picking of the guitar, and the hovering keys. This is quite easily the most beautiful track on the album.

For “Elemental”, the fourth track, it is the plodding pace that makes it good. And it is very slow, but it adds to the atmosphere. This is the first track I ever heard, when getting into funeral doom. It was slow, it was growling, it was depressed. And much like the rest of the songs on this album, it is beautiful in it's own way.

“Who Rides The Astral Wings” is the second to last track, and starts off as you would come to expect a Thergothon song to start off; plodding drum beat, swirling guitars, powerful vocals. But then, after doing this for a minute or so, it all goes silent. A keyboard hum fills the silence, then the guitars and vocals, along with the keys, make something strange. It's magical, watching a track become something entirely different, yet still beautiful. Much like the keyboard and acoustic passage in “The Unknown Kadeth In The Cold Waste”, this keys and guitar combination doesn't last long, but like that passage, it definitely leaves a mark.

The last and final track, “Crying Blood & Crimson Snow”, combines the delicate parts of the album. Clean echoing vocals, the guitar and keys combination, and a heavy sense of dread and melancholy. The lyrics foretell the end: "The blade (so sharp and cold)/ May the spirits chant my name". It is a beautiful song, which paints futility in an almost poetic way.
It is a perfect end to an album that lives up to it's legend.

Monolithic Doom Masterpiece - 100%

Papyrus11, April 17th, 2012

This is one of the albums often considered to have launched the funeral doom genre, and upon listening it’s easy to see why this monolith still stands tall and why its influence has been so far-reaching and enduring. As soon as opener ‘Everlasting’ begins you’re introduced to a character and peculiar intensity that is not heard from many other bands. There’s the slow, lurching guitar sound that seems to reach out to infinity with each somnambulistic chord; there’s the mournful chanted vocals mixed with low, drawn out death growls that sound like someone expiring; there’s the strange keyboard sounds creating a bizarre and warped atmosphere along with a sense of dismal melody; overall there’s a strange lulling feeling of being dragged down when listening to this album, of possibly being taken somewhere desolate, terrible and alien.

Although they are considered funeral doom, it is important not to forget the influence of H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos upon Thergothon:

‘enormous buildings of slimy black stone
built by hands not similar to man.’

You can imagine no more appropriate soundtrack for the city of R’lyeh, the depths of sound matching the vastness of the structures and the creatures that dwell within. Indeed for all of the bands who are influenced by Lovecraft, and enjoy creating the soundtracks for his unique visions, Thergothon are the band who hit closest to the mark. The slow rumbling riffs bring Cthulhu to mind, stirring beneath the sea and sending up his subliminal lures to those susceptible. The desolate nature of the compositions create images of things lurking beyond where the eye can see, things overwhelming in their hugeness and grotesqueness, in landscapes untraveled by man.

This could all be incidental; these things occur to me when I listen to Stream From The Heavens but for others it may not be so. There’s a mountain of potential imagery and emotion to find in these songs. One thing is for certain though: this album cannot simply drift into the background when played. Some bands play songs that you enjoy, that you can headbang to before moving on to the next band. Not so with Thergothon: their songs take over your mindscape, becoming part of your mental architecture and altering it indefinitely. Again, key here is atmosphere; so atmospheric are the songs that the walls seem to drip with menace and melancholy, much like the towers of R’lyeh.

Potentially there are some problems with the album. Yes the production isn’t perfect, the guitar sound lacking the pure weight of funeral doom bands to come in their wake; yes the keyboard sounds could be considered dated; yes its unending slowness doesn’t make it an album for all places and times. But for me these things add to its unique character and power rather than detract from the overall quality. The sound and production are of its time and work very well to my ears, can’t complain about that too much. Personally I really like the keyboard sounds and atmospheres; they are unique and we’ll probably not hear anything quite like them on an album again (much like this album as a whole). And as for being an album that will probably only be listened to in certain places and times, and when the listener is in certain moods? Well, that’s funeral doom: one of the most extreme, melancholic, desolate and challenging metal genres there is, and if you’re at all interested in it you’ll know that it isn’t the kind of music to listen to when cruising in an open-top car near the beach or something.

So a perfect score for this album. Does any album really deserve a perfect score? It’s debateable, but in this case I can’t give any less, considering how much this album has meant to me over the years, and to the extreme metal scene as a whole. If you think of an album in terms of originality and influence, added to its quality as a piece of work in its own right then I think ‘Stream From The Heavens’ is pretty much perfect. It originated a sound (with a few other key bands), it influenced and inspired countless other bands and musically it is a masterpiece of depression, melancholy, atmosphere and just pure heaviness. In a way it is too bad that the band broke up before this album was even released, making it their only one, but in another way this is good. It stands now as a monolith, unending and undiminished, its desolate magic there for those who will listen, eternal and never to be repeated.

Originally written for: http://hauntingtheobscure.blogspot.co.uk/

And Funeral Doom was born... - 100%

absurder21, January 8th, 2011

Doom metal has found itself to be one of the most underground genres in metal, everyone seems to know death, thrash and power metal (the odd person at least know black metal as that genre where they paint their faces), but when you talk about Doom metal, most people give you a bewildered stare and assume you’re talking about some super cosmic evil metal more deranged then death or black metal. Then you tell them it’s pretty much early Sabbath and they are aghast. But the thing is, they weren’t exactly wrong. For behind the surface of Doom metal, was something more deranged then death metal and doom metal, and it took the combined forces of the two with a gallop of dark ambient to make one of the darkest, most ball crushing, schizophrenic genres in metal: Funeral Doom Metal. And this album released in 1994 by the Finnish band, Thergothon, is pretty much the start of it all...

The album introduces itself with the track, Everlasting, to a pretty upbeat intro.It starts with a synth line that sounds like it came directly from a church keyboard, the subtle cheapness of the treble-high keyboard being pretty effectively with the slow, heavy, reverb laden riffs to help evoke a sad, melancholic atmosphere. While clean vocals are first introduced, it becomes clear that the extremely low-growled vocals of Niko used later on are to be the dominant force in evoking a sense of despair and darkness. The drums slowly thunder away in the background as the lead guitars sync with the synth to create a harmonious melody that pulls the song together. This formula is pretty much definitive for Funeral Doom, creating a sense of slow pending doom and marching like depression perfectly. While there is melody in this genre and especially this album, there are plenty of riffs that evoke such a sense of evil in their dissonance that it sends chills up your spine, such as the main riff in Yet the Watchers Guard. Thergothon also like to play with some pretty unconventional melodies, as well as using some flutes and medieval instruments in a few segments to evoke a sort of ancient element.

The guitar work on this is pretty admirable, if you ask me. Although a lot of the riffs are at near-Drone level slowness, It's hard to keep timing when switching to Death metal speed and back, not to mention that there are still plenty of interesting and well executed lead bits that harmonize with the synths. The riffs are still the dominant force here, as in most metal genres, and they spend most of their time pulling the songs along perfectly. Whereas a lot of funeral doom is incredibly synth laden, this record keeps a perfect ratio, with riffs being dominant but the synths staying in a perfect complimentary position, while also having some moments of its own every once in awhile. The bass work is...sort of present, the guitars are tuned pretty low, I think C, so it’s hard to tell, but it does make an obvious appearance a few times here. Drumming is basic: the odd blast beat, mostly slow paced marches, as Funeral Doom should be.

Lyrically, Thergothon use their lyrics to conjure up a very dark picture, with lots of HP Lovraftian-esque images of red skied, barren wastelands filled with “dark ones” and such. I got a bit of a Nordic themed-lyric in the last song, “Crying Blood & Crimson Snow” as well, and some nature in the song “Elemental”. The vocals narrate these stories perfectly, with the growls being used to truly translate, or at least translate in growl, the dark stories being told by the instruments. Typically, the structures of a song on this album would be to get a riff or two and then go on a cosmic “funeral trip” of droning riffs and sustained synths, then come back to the others riffs, maybe they’ll be a chorus somewhere in between all of that...It's hard to generalize as each song is pretty different.

If you have just started to get onto Funeral Doom, and you just got hear from say, Ahab or Evoken, this album might be a bit hard to swallow. It’s definitely a grower, as it flew straight past my head the first few time around, but after maybe 5 casual listens it clicked, mostly on “Yet the watchers Guard”, but if you give it a good proper listen you would probably be as hooked as everyone else is. Listen for the history factor if not the pure Funeral Doom factor...

It's Elemental My Dear - 94%

Transphilvanian, March 23rd, 2010

Thergothon are listed in most places as being on of the originators of the funeral doom genre, which is a genre that only had a small amount of bands around the time this was released and still today this album seems to be one of the more original and progressive of the genre. The influence present on this release has really only recently come into fruition, now that funeral doom seems to be fully fledged and recognised genre. History aside this album stands the test of time and is still one of the monumental achievements of a relatively young form of extreme music.

Variation is one of the key elements of this release which makes it stand out from the pack even today. This has all the elements expected of a funeral doom band, but subtle characteristics mean this album feels more involved than most other funeral doom albums, not to mention more unusual. The first noticeable element when getting to grips with this beast, is the almost ridiculous delay on the guitar. The tone is that of deep and rumbling caves, feedback grating on every chord and every note, never leaving the listener in total silence. This is effective in a similar way to the more atmospheric black metal releases in that it washes over you so you can never escape the amazing psychedelic atmosphere this album creates.

The keyboards, while not omnipresent, are featured rather widely over the whole release and the best I can describe them is a rather sci-fi comparable sound, however complete with the guitar tone it is hard to envision any other sound working as well. The vocals are somewhat atypical also, being a very low but throaty growl combined with cleaner vocals which are at some times depressing or epic but at others rather enchanting and hopeful. This style takes some getting used to, especially the unusually gravelly unclean vocals, but they do not deter and in some occasions very much complement the unity of the music. When taken on their own some of the features of the album seem very unusual and as if they would never work, however when heard as a single entity it all creates a an epic and destructive sound.

Songwriting is probably one the most important factors when it comes to funeral doom. As the genre generally takes on an ambient or minimalist approach to instrumentation and song construction, the tracks have to keep the listeners interest. Luckily the songwriting in this release is as flowing and natural as it can be when working with this form of music as well as creating a spacey and mysterious atmosphere . Normally the guitar and keyboards introduce the wandering maze of these songs only to slowly grow into melodic phrases that, once creating the desired atmosphere, may wander off in another direction and create a different mood altogether. This leaves the listener always interested and the progression of the tracks can be compared to the telling of a wild and wonderful novel. The instruments appear to take it in turns providing the lead melody or the overwhelming mass of developing chords, producing not only a dreamy and vivid atmosphere but also well written songs that take you on a journey that actually goes somewhere. With this, Thergothon avoid a mistake that many funeral doom bands or others in a minimalist genre make, just leaving the atmosphere to drag out for ten minutes which never bodes well for repeated listens.

It also helps that the songs vary in length and never outstay their welcome, funeral doom should not necessarily be about filling the disk and the 45 minutes on display here I find a commendable length. There are sprawling and instrumentally diverse epics such as "Elemental", which features some truly staggering acoustic guitar chords that somehow work amongst the crushing fuzz of the electric guitar, which is preceded by a smaller piece that is just as intense. It seems to provide a small break from the crushing weirdness, featuring one of the cleanest sections of the album with only the keyboards and quiet acoustics, only to build into a mammoth end leading up to the aforementioned longer track.

Overall one could create comparisons to other leaders in the genre such as Skepticism and maybe dISEMBOWELMENT but this is a very different entity. Skepticism has the ethereal flow and epic atmosphere and dISEMBOWLMENT have the crushing and sudden death metal induced sections of their tracks. Thergothon have something very different though I feel, they don't just create an atmosphere, they tell a story of epic proportions incorporating gentle acoustics, clean and harsh vocals, bewilderingly fuzzy guitar tone and most importantly have created a compelling and progressive work in metal.

*Yawns* - 15%

stereo_typical213, September 4th, 2009

Anyone got a blanket and some pillows? Because you might fall asleep while listening to this record. Not because the songs are so beautiful that they send you into a trance, but they are simply boring. Yes, I know the idea of the whole 'funeral doom' subgenre is to be repetitive, slow and mournful, but i just don't connect with it. I don’t understand how playing one chord every one, if not two bars and have some guy gurgling in the background is depressive and mournful. It was almost excruciating listening to the album in its entirety once because it is that boring. The music doesn’t progress and it doesn’t go anywhere. Normally what I find to trigger emotions within myself while listening to music is the dynamics and the overall texture of the music. The music has to have feeling, certain notes have to be accentuated and the music has to go somewhere. It doesn’t build up or lead to anything, the songs all sound the same and very rarely does the song change to anything worth listening to.

My most hated aspect of this album is the guitar. What is the unnecessarily huge amount of phaser/flanger supposed to do? All it makes me do is feel dizzy and force me to turn the CD off immediately, but I forced myself to listen to this so I could give a justified review on it. It keeps reverberating from one ear into the other constantly and sounds so empty. It’s just plain annoying to be quite frank. I think once or twice in the entire album (from what my vague memory of listening to this ‘CD’ tells me) there was an acoustic piece. I was absolutely stunned that the guitarist was actually capable of making music that was half decent, as the entire album showcases him playing one heavily distorted chord a bar. I’m not saying that music is all about how talented the musicians are and how technical the music is, but one chord a bar does not make the music ‘atmospheric’ and ‘depressive’.

Speaking of which, I pity the drummer immensely. Throughout the entire album all he plays is a crash and bass on the first beat, a ride and snare on beat 3 at an excruciatingly low tempo. (Give or take 70 bpm) While recording this album he was either dying of absolute boredom or playing video games while recording it. I honestly think at the speed the album travels at, that could be possible. Once again, it’s not how technical a musician is which makes him talented, it’s his ability to control his/her dynamics with their respective instrument. The drums are at the same volume throughout the whole album. No build-ups, no climaxes to songs, just the same monotonous thing, over and over. Only very rarely does he go into a faster beat but this breath of fresh air is quickly stopped when it goes back to the chord fest.

Now that I have come to think about it, I dislike everything about this album. Everything, period. The vocals are even more annoying than the overly tampered guitar tone. It honestly sounds like someone who ate too much beans and is letting the air out of their rear end.

The only song on the album that is actually bearable is ‘The Unknown Kadath In The Cold-Waste’ which actually compliments the chords with a nifty little melody. It makes me shudder just to think what the other bands in this genre are like, as Thergothon are supposed to be the pioneers of it. In my opinion, give it a try, you might like it, but I honestly can’t bear to listen to it.

Like nothing else. - 100%

caspian, July 15th, 2009

In a way it's sort of ideal that Thergothon only ever released one full length; while it is a shame that there was never a follow up the lack of anything else by these guys allows Stream from the Heavens to stand on its own- an utterly alien monument without peer, a twisted black tower of non-Euclidian geometry rising above some desolate, windswept Antarctic plateau.

Short of their demo nothing I've heard sound remotely like this, or anything close to it. The guitar tone, for one- all oddly flanged (someone once suggested that this whole recording was time stretched/pitch shifted when recording was completed, I'm inclined to agree), spindly, thin and completely different from the usual bass/mid heavy tone expected from doom. The ridiculously low vocals, the old sci-fi (syfy?) synth sounds. Nothing about this is typical.

And of course, the atmosphere- still as powerful, still as unique as ever; still unmatched and still the reason why Thergothon stand head and shoulders above their funereal counterparts (and their doom brethren in general). Metal's always had a few bands attempting to channel that which is spacey, dark and powerful, and Thergothon are without a doubt the purest example, the finest example. From the chants of Elemental to the synth lead in Everlasting, from the brief comedown in Unknown Kadath to the eerie clean vocals in Who Rides the Astral Wings, everything in this delivers maximum atmosphere, and that’s before we get to the bizarre, pitch black production- the flanged guitars, the deep bass that reverberates throughout much of the album. It’s hard to see anything but ancient, pre-human structures and undying, primordial creatures when the music starts. Heaven help those who've tried this album with drugs!

Going on about the atmosphere does a disservice to the best thing about this record. Stream from the Heavens doesn't rely on over enthusiastic use of a reverb plug-in or what have you- the songwriting is the cornerstone of this record. Granted there aren't a heap of tempo changes but it's far more complex then you'd originally think- plenty of riff changes, dynamic usage aplenty, heavy, crushing guitar lines mixed with strange, spider-like leads (no other way to describe it), sparse and clever use of synths and vocals for tonal variation. None of this is immediately obvious, either; the transitions between riffs, drumbeats etc. are so smooth, so seamless that upon the first few listens you may not even notice them. That's understandable, though; once this album sucks you in you're not going to be thinking about the minutiae too much, moreso succumbing to the immense power.

There's just not a note out of place throughout this whole thing. It just radiates with an unseen power and every element of the music- the strange, atypical production, the intricate and complex songwriting, the crushing riffs, the atmosphere- everything is done perfectly. A true 100%-er if I've ever seen one.

The Embodiment of Inaccessible Music - 72%

lord_ghengis, August 14th, 2008

While funeral doom is a relatively new thing to me, I went into this album feeling confident that I would find something that I would love instantly. At the time I first heard this, I'd heard a grand total of 3 funeral doom bands, and had worshipped each one in its own way. First was Esoteric, who stuck me with their constantly moving sound and their ability to create urgency while playing at 60 beats per minute. Then was Ahab, which stuck me with its melody and atmosphere, and finally Wormphlegm violently crushed me with their prodigious slowly moving wall of pure heaviness. I knew of the various reviews of this album being highly inaccessible and difficult to get into music, but from my experience with the genre, I was sure this was going to click, and I was going to exclaim myself a convert of funeral doom. However, there was one thing I wasn't expecting, Stream from the Heavens is painfully hard to digest.

This is truly about as difficult to consume as music can get without being noise or poorly produced to the point of being static. This is for a number of reasons, ranging from production, to natural ability, to technique. Basically everything that Thergothon does on this album is intended to make it difficult to sit through, but often in a good way.

This album is slow, and I mean really, really slow, this is noticeably slower than any of the bands I mentioned earlier, which aren’t exactly Dark Angel. At times it feels almost drone like, due to the guitars being even more simplistic than those bands too, there are far fewer harmonies, just big slow single note chords, in true drone style. If anything, Stream from the Heavens struggles because it tries to be so minimalist in its design, it just doesn't do enough to get you involved. Most songs only have a few sections where the guitars do anything resembling a riff, for the main part they just play huge dirges with long drawn out power chords. The final drone similarity comes from the bassy feedback this entire album has running underneath. Some have called it eerie, but I have to disagree, it's a straight up annoyance. It just warbles along underneath far too loud and far too uncontrolled, randomly increasing and decreasing in volume and power, in it's defence, it makes the music fire out of your speakers and physically grab you, however it does nothing but elbow you in the side of the head, leaving some nasty bruising and a bad headache, particularly during moments of slightly higher speeds. This is the most annoying of the couple of production problems this album has.

The other production trouble is the general weakness of the guitars. One thing about all the other funeral doom bands I've heard which has made them easier to listen to than this is the thickness of the guitars, making the music sound huge and monolithic in it's slow moving sadness. It gives the music a powerful edge that makes it enjoyable on a simple riffing level. Thergothon sounds almost meek in comparison. The riffs are slower, and admittedly bigger in some ways, but stir images of a sole person solemn and alone, rather than the grand displays of misery that other bands produce. This lack of simple brutish aggression along with the atmospheric bleakness again, makes this harder to get into, there's nothing but sheer depression on offer here, pure and simple. Not to say its soft music, it's not; this is still extremely heavy, just not as heavy as their contemporaries. This is depressive music without the desperation or despair, it's as if that's already past, and this is the musical representation of the broken person who has already surrendered.

Such pretentious and wanky descriptions of the music aside, there is a very good side to the music which I was getting at. Thergothon is frightfully good at expressing desolation and melancholy. This is music geared at being emotionally moving and nothing else. So while on a purely musical level it's a difficult to listen to and deal with to album; in the right mindset this is total perfection.

There are a couple of things that can be appreciated at any time though, these songs are backed up by some stunning lyrics, unsurprisingly dealing with dark and depressive topics, and some pretty good vocals. The vocals range from a clean type, which are delivered in an average way at best, but again, this works in the same way as the music, it's all set up for you for you to be in a certain mood. If you were in the right mood for the music to be enjoyable and gripping, perfectly performed clean vocals just wouldn't work, they're highly geared towards sounding ethereal and haunting. Still, they’re quite listenable at all times. The growls are reminiscent of Demilich, but still sound a little closer to a standard growl, and are quite a lot less laughable. As with Demilich’s burps, they’re not very powerful, but the woefully low pitch makes up for that, this isn’t violent music, power isn’t what they’re going for. They're pretty much perfect for the album.

Thergothon's only release is the absolute perfect music for when you're in the mood for something completely soul devastating. Where the problem comes is that this music is so geared towards that state that it's honestly painful if you're not going for that. For this reason this is a hard album to review highly, because, unless you're a morbidly depressed person you won't find too many occasions when you'll be giving this a listen.

More ultra weird avant-garde shit from Finland - 90%

Spawnhorde, October 2nd, 2004

Quite possibly the slowest thing I have heard in my entire life, each song take 5 years to begin and an extra 17 to end. This is the band which is accredited with starting the genre doomheads of today call "funeral doom". The music is played at the pace of a sombre funeral march, with visions of black robed priests in a procession towards a catacombic vault occuring in your sights and mind while listening. The songs drip weirdness right down to the very strange vocals, which remind me of Antti from Demilich's guttural-yet-not-forced burps, but there are also very calming clean vocals. However, do not get the feeling that this music is calm at all from the slow pace and occasional clean vocals. This is the most depressing, unsettling doom I've ever happened upon. Each track assaults the ears and thought of the listener with brutal chords plucked again and again repetitively, whirling around your brain like a torrent of misery. Some of the coruses are repeated over and over, also, to give off a trance-like effect, not unlike a lot of black metal.

Musically, this is mainly easy to play. However, I highly doubt any band can go around and play this exact album, as it exudes pure fucking sadness and depression and has the most spacial production I've heard in a doom album. The music feels almost 4-dimensional, as if it is ripping at the space and time æther itself. If you are depressed, you will either LOVE this or HATE it, as it is definitely mood music. The reason I gave it such a high rating is because, although simple, it is incredibly beautiful without being pretentious or over-complex (obviously...), emotional without having soaring operatic female/male vocals, or even layered without having many layers at all. Digging deep within this album's surface, you will find the doom gem you have been looking for for a long time. Yog-Sothoth beckons...

Father of Funeral doom - 100%

WIndrider, June 26th, 2003

There are two things I love about metal, 1. The insanely technical guitar riffs and drumming 2. the imagery and emotions that it creates.
While Thergothon certainly don’t produce any insanely technical guitar riffs, they absolutely exemplify the latter. Thergothon play extremely drony doom and are known by many as the father of funeral doom. So slooooow is Thergothon music, and so heavy is the sound, that it’s almost impossible to withstand it’s force. Listening to Thergothon is like standing outside in a massive hurricane, it just crushes you. However, the crushing which takes places is a melancholic crushing much different from a band such as Behemoth (which crushes with intensity).
While being destroyed by Thergothon they take you to a place in the forest where all is pure, the music is so emotional you almost want to cry. In this forest you see what the essence of life truly is and you realize where you heart is meant to be; in the forest with the bounty of nature. Perhaps this is why they chose the name streams from the heavens; this music truly does have a transcendental power.
Anyone who likes newer funeral doom such as Skepticism or Evoken has to check this band out. They truly are the originators of this sound.