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Burzum - 80%

Insin, April 5th, 2015

Michigan band Thoren’s debut EP captures a dark, ominous atmosphere. It conjures up dozens of images in my mind, all of some blackened and shadowy place where death and fear run rampant. I’ve never heard something sound this foreboding.

Thoren abandons normal song structure in its twenty-three minute run. Some may think that’s not enough time to create an atmosphere, but that atmosphere is created in the first friggin minute with the disjointed and malevolent introduction that is Gaw Onnen. The EP is packed full of doomy, desolately murky riffing. Combining this with both tasteful and more shred-oriented guitar solos, they invoke a sound that at times is evil and terrifying.

Production is good. All the instruments are audible and well-balanced, each with a sharp, individual sound. The drums, while not overly technical, display adeptness at programming that makes me wonder why I chose to pick up a pair of sticks instead of learning how to program on a computer.

My major complaint is the consistency. The tracks are in fact coherent and flowing, but maybe too similar to each other; there could be more variation while achieving the same overall result.

“Atmospheric” should probably be added to Thoren’s description, considering this really depicts darkness so strongly. There’s still some room for improvement, but this is a solid debut. Looking forward to hearing more from this band in the future.

Bloodthirsty Mutant Sasquatch Dungeon! - 88%

JGBarnes, January 18th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Independent

It sounds like rain and lighting crashing around a castle owned by an immortal count who feeds his own blood to ancient Sasquatch mutants in his cavernous, leaky dungeon... the movie. I made this account just to review this EP because I'm also from Michigan like Thoren, and more people need to know of the metallic badassery coming out of this state. Like Sender/Receiver and Tharsis They, Thoren ranks up there with some of the best stuff I've heard come out of the Detroit area. This EP comes with a refreshingly natural mix, and complex, intriguing arrangements that are a delight to decipher, yet aren't convoluted for the sake of making challenging music. It balances on that thin line between listenable and technically overt. This EP, though flawed, in my opinion, is exceptional for a debut and should not be missed.

I'll get my one and only slight hang up out of the way. As cool as the introduction is, dark, drudging, and broken, it doesn't compliment the flow of the remainder of the album. Otherwise, Thoren goes on to pummel you with a heavy, rumbling riffs and spectacular horror-movie-like guitar solos that are introduced in a big, atmospheric way that can evolve into something a little more hopeful. The musical story finishes with slamming, crunchy dissonance and screechy riffs spiking out out of it like a swinging mace.

One of the standout features of this EP is the mixing/mastering. Typically, in metal these days, the drums (whether programmed or not) are mixed with such huge artificial pop that they sound like banging plastic buckets together. Either that or the mix is flat and has no life to it. Here, the drums, particularly, are refreshingly natural without sounding anemic or fluttery. The guitar is also thick without sounding muddy or overly synthesized, yet is set just a sliver forward in the mix so that it leads the songs like it should.

Don't sleep on this EP. There is something really special here with a good dose of black atmosphere and unexpectedly cool solo work. Listen to this album on repeat while playing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and you will become immortal, I think.