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Nonsensical string of profane exclamations - 98%

zeingard, November 17th, 2009

There is a strange trend when it comes to metal reviews for the writer to go completely batshit insane when describing their favourite album. Admittedly I'm close to doing just that right now but I can assure you, that I am trying my hardest to refrain from such abhorrent behaviour. I have a modicum of class and a reputation to defend of course.

Thou's 'Malfeasance-Retribution' is a concentrated effort that summarises their sound and as such becomes their greatest work due to its ability to convey itself so effectively and succinctly. Fifteen minutes and fifty-two seconds of menacingly violent sludge metal that never slumps, keeping the listener's attention with expertly timed shifts in song structure to maximise their impact. The music itself is definitely derived from the Eyehategod school of sludge but with the pentatonic scale thrown out the window in favour of more drone-doom influences generating a more apocalyptic and bleak atmosphere.

The opening track, "Their Hooves Carve Craters in the Earth" is the slower of the two and brings to mind what the tracks off 'Peasant' would sound like if the guitar tone was less muted and the songwriting approach had a more visceral and untamed edge to it. It never reaches a pace that could be considered fast, or even mid-paced really but this doesn't stop the guitars from moving through a solid selection of riffs that are so decimating and dense it's hard to believe the sound can physically defy gravity for long enough to reach your ear drums. The drumming is also noteworthy, shifting its beat appropriately to support the music and lend even more weighty to the granite-like riffs.

"The Bleeding Genitals of Every Rapist Hang Bleeding From These Trees" is definitely the best track of the EP; managing to skillfully alternate between funereal dirges to more traditional doom metal riffing into mouth-foamingly rabid crust/hardcore punk eruptions. The vocals are particularly vicious and raspy, albeit not quite in the black metal vein with a bit more thickness and growling present in the technique used. Overall the track advances and recedes with such calculated precision it's hard to find the right words; you could say clockwork but the music never feels mechanical or stiff. It's quite organic and never jarring, flowing with an unerring conviction into the each section without making the listener think the musicians are off their fucking meds again.

I could gush for another three or four paragraphs because this is some immaculately crafted sludge metal and should be mandatory listening for everyone, regardless of musical preference. It's an exercise in efficient, controlled songwriting that proves it is possible to produce music without the need for augmenting the attributes of your music to ridiculous extremes. Sublime.