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Every Rose Has Its Doomy, Blacky Thorn - 91%

bayern, July 29th, 2017

This band is the brainchild of Snorre W. Ruch, a former member of Mayhem, who started this project in the late-80’s when the name was Stigma Diabolicum. The style was a dirgy, doomy form of black metal, something not quite familiar within the limited at the time black metal confines, but pretty effective, a patient, non-rushed approach to music suffering a bit from the sloppy production qualities the latter preserved for the 2007 compilation which featured all the works from this early incarnation.

Thorns’ rise in stature was slow largely hampered by Ruch’s spending time in prison after being accused as a Varg Vikernes aka Burzum’s accomplice in the murder of Euronymous. How involved he was in this hideous crime remains a debatable issue, but once released he embarked on a journey to put his main act on the map. An interesting split with their compatriots Emperor was the first step, followed by the album reviewed here. “Existence” opens the Pandora’s Box of inventive black metallisms which at this early stage are quite faithful to the 90’s Norwegian second wave with a noisier, abrasive twist. “World Playground Deceit” is a dissonant wonder, an amorphous masterpiece which passes through several metamorphoses within the span of 7-min starting as a fast-paced shredder before dark cavernous doom embraces everything mid-way with Ruch semi-whispering, or rather reciting, on the side his involvement even bigger on the exiting tremolo sweeps later which elevate the dissonance to an art form towards the end before acts like Virus, Yurei, Klast and Deathspell Omega had ever thought about that.

“Shifting Channels” “shifts channels” towards the doomy side of the spectre, funeral dirge at its most threatening; and “Stellar Master Elite” is a more vivid proposition with bouncy pounding riffs initially, but the speedy storm that gets unleashed later brings this cut in the vicinity of more recent Satyricon with the thick grooves and the belligerent march-like operatics. “Underneath the Universe pt.1” is a nearly 8-min ambient pacifier, and pt. 2 is a sinister doom metal extravaganza with the most volcanic, ship-sinking riffs around overwriting the insistent keyboard ornamentations. “Interface to God” brings back the fury with more aggressive, faster-paced crescendos immersed in dark, macabre atmospherics those brought by the excellent use of melody. “Vortex” is a seismic doomy epitaph recalling early Barathrum and Khold, the bleak landscapes fully epitomized at the end regardless of the soothing piano-driven finale.

This opus was released when black metal was going through a severe identity crisis with the majority of its representatives expanding their arsenal with influences from where the hell not, and something had to happen in order to keep the genre floating above the expansion campaign that was stirring at the dawn of the new millennium. Acts like The Kovenant, Samael, and Dodheimsgard brought the delivery dangerously close to the electronic/industrial fiesta which was going to put its signature underneath black metal’s death sentence if it wasn’t for newcomers like Khold and visionary veterans like the band under scrutiny here to preserve its integrity. The thing is that Ruch hasn’t been in a very active mode in the past several years, at least not on the black metal front, as he has started a new project with musicians from the doom metallers The Third and the Mortal named Thorns LTD, the music being pure ambient intended for art galleries and similar art-related events. Doesn’t sound very exciting on paper by any means, and definitely much less preferable than the mentioned 2007 compilation for the black metal audience. Well, I guess every rose has its tender, less thorny side… although we, the devoted metalheads, will always be looking for its darker, pricklier manifestations.