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May Our Chambers Be Full

Thou / Emma Ruth Rundle

seething then brooding then dreaming - 71%

Metal_On_The_Ascendant, November 10th, 2020

Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands is where Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou first teamed up. To be quite honest, their styles aren't that disparate and a full length collaborative album was kinda the next logical step. Emma Ruth Rundle's signature has been to brood over considerable seas of dreamy yet dark stacked guitar melodies....and Thou? Well, Thou is Thou. They are pristine sludge at its finest. ERR's last album "On Dark Horses" did see her explore doomier territory albeit in the ultra-alterna sense like if Smashing Pumpkins' dreamier qualities jammed with a less prickly Neurosis. I have never cared much for Thou but I concede they are wonderfully intense and primal - a thoroughly functional band. "May Our Chambers Be Full" bristles with so much competent songwriting and even when some of the material doesn't sound fully realized, at its core, there's a knack for knowing how to utilize the best of the artists' strengths that's undeniable.

There's a distinctive lack of sludgy torment-filled riffs that Thou dabbled in way back when and in their place we get a ton of darkly lush passages that cushion the priestly vibe of Emma consistently. Andy Gibbs is the main songwriter and his desolate grooves tower over and circle the bulk of the songs with Tyler Coburn's strong drumming elevating everything. There's also a lack of catchiness to this outing that could be detrimental with just how easily this earns its fans. The songs seem to mean something deep and intangible given how much emphasis the vocal layering is given. What is meant is never really told though and lyrically there's an over-usage of burdensome imagery and non-sequiturs. Bryan Funck's hateful rasps sometimes gel well with Emma's more anguished stances and sometimes they don't. When they work as on the opener "Killing Floor" and closer "The Valley", it is majestic.

"Monolith" opens with a dizzying riff pattern that is not helped at all by Tyler's drumming. The vocal partnering of KC Stafford and Funck is also rather jarring but things get better when the riff dips out and lets the song breathe. Thou craft lovely ambient and droney tones that fully complement (and compliment) their riffing. "Out of Existence" is the heart of the album with Funck's scope of hatefulness almost entirely expressed over a shifting riff that seems to pass through only the most wretched eras of time. Emma's priestly pronouncements bring forth the doomiest lines of 2020; "The Song of All Things Burning. This one is predetermined. This one will find no favor. This one is weight unburdened, dragging down our lives. This one is predetermined we all know just what comes next."

At 36 minutes, this is a concise and rather tight work. Some songs like "Magickal Cost" and "The Valley" stick better landings because of their folkier attitude and they play well into ERR's pocket of sound and influences without sacrificing the bleak harshness Thou is known and loved for. A successful endeavor all in all but it doesn't seem to offer much need for a follow up and its brazen lack of catchiness may turn off some.