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A materpiece in every way. - 96%

toofargone, April 5th, 2004

I don’t usually give such high scores in album reviews, but then again albums rarely obliterate me like this one. To put quite simply, despite a couple of small flaws, it’s a masterpiece. Thorns is the brainchild of Snorre W. Ruch, but this is by no means a one man band. Instead of a steady line-up, the different songs on the album have quests performing vocals. On drums is the omnipotent drummer, Hellhammer, who plays on all tracks, while vocal duties switch between Bjorn Dencker and Satyr Wongraven.
The album kick starts with furious song structured on unique, memorable riffs that are guaranteed to float around your head for days to come. Amongst eerie samples and sound effects, reigns a spacey feeling that gives more than an idea of what’s to come. Dencker’s spaced out vocals give the song an outworldish feel, a feel that is trademark to the album. The following track is just as special, with a unique feel to the distorted guitar playing, Satyr’s talking vocals and Hellhammer’s perfect drumming. ‘World Playground Deceit’ only reassures the listener that they are in for a treat. ‘Shifting Channels’ further enforcing that conception, although being quite different from the first two tracks. It starts off with an absolute feeling of the unknown, brought on by continuous sound loops and effects galore as well as the sudden change in the pace of the song from heavy industrial noise patterns to fast layered guitar sections, only to revert back again to the initial blue print. Dencker’s robot-like vocals help create a futuristic atmosphere, that comes together beautifully as the song progresses.
The next track, ‘Stellar Master Elite’, gets off to a fast start and further shows off Snorre’s unique style of guitar playing as it effortlessly changes riffs at high speeds.
The next two tracks go hand in hand as an epic, two part song that’s sure to leave most flabbergasted. The first part of ‘Underneath the Universe’ is strictly instrumental, consisting mostly of freakish sounds and noises with only a little bit of guitars and drums in the beginning minutes of the song. While the ill near silences, that pop up at times in the song can be scary and immersing in their own right, the sounds can tend to be a little tiring if the listener’s not in the mood for a song like this. Gladly, the second part is even more inspiring. With excellent drumming that contradicts unique riffs, and a stop-start structure to the song, that at one points passing through a mesmerising verse with spoken vocals layered by keyboards amongst the absence of drums and guitars, the track is easily a highlight.
Faster than the previous songs before it, ‘Interface to God’ leaves the listener guessing with intricate riffs and changes of pace. To top it off, the epic feel to the song, accompanied by some brutal screaming vocals by Satyr and the fact that the track feels like numerous songs put together into one killer epic make it by far the most enjoyable song from the whole album.
The albums comes to an end with ‘Vortex’. Yet another song that starts with strange sound treats, and this time even some keyboards. This is also the only song on which vocal duties are handled by Snorre himself. His vocals are mostly spoken, while the song maintains that stop and go feeling also evident on the rest of the album. But this song is different. The climax, the spacey feeling and the freaky vocals make this stand out from the rest. Definitely a great ending to an already great album. Masterfully thought out, and even more so executed this is hard not to recommend, as I’m sure that this will stand out as one of the greatest albums of all time.