Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2021
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

I Feel the Pain of a Lasting War - 85%

Thumbman, December 18th, 2018

2018 is a good year to be a Thou fan. They dropped three different EPs over the course of the summer and then for good measure threw in the best sludge metal album of the year. One might think such a prolific output in such a short time would ultimately mean the EPs were littered with outtakes and b-rate material, but Thou astonishingly maintains quality throughout all of them. Rhea Sylvia is a dreary and atmospheric EP. While it doesn’t bludgeon to the same degree as their new album Magus, it’s great at what it does.

Thou has talked about this being their Alice in Chains EP and I sort of see it. While most songs don’t actually sound all that much like Alice in Chains, a lot of it does have that bummed out rainy day vibe to it. Most of the EP is ultimately really gloomy atmospheric sludge. There’s some subtle post-rock influence and subdued psychedelic influences in the mix that help give the softer parts some character. The riffs are drawn out and cathartic. There’s some really awesome deep clean vocals in “The Only Law”, but the harsh vocals are definitely what really help set these apart from the next atmo sludge band. They have just as much to do with black metal as sludge, being a slow tortured rasp where you can hear the pain of existence in every syllable.

“Deepest Sun” is by far the standout song of the record and is where the Alice and Chains references are really warranted. It totally sounds like the more metal-leaning bands associated with the grunge explosion, with Soundgarden also coming to mine. The vocal performance is excellently executed and falls somewhere between the two aforementioned bands. It’s really cool how they can take on a rock song and wipe the floor with most actual rock bands. I also love how they take a song that you could totally sneak on an alternative rock station and add a harsh vocal section and somehow have that feel totally natural. Reminds me of “Venus Blue” by Acid Bath in that respect.

The Crowbar cover is the other song that diverges from the pack here. As far as I’m concerned “The Lasting Dose” is the best traditional sludge song and Sonic Excess in its Purest Form is the best traditional sludge album. A sludge band isn’t going to be able to come in and out-Crowbar Crowbar here, but that doesn’t mean a cover isn’t worth trying. Primitive Man covered “Suffering Brings Wisdom” and it turned out great. “The Lasting Dose” aches with bittersweet melody and is such a perfect lament for the struggles of everyday existence. Thou slows it down even further and aided by a great vocal performance, the emotional impact is still there.

Rhea Sylvia is largely songs Matt has written for acoustic guitar fleshed out by Thou, and this really shows in the song writing. The songs feel surprisingly anchored for atmospheric sludge. With the wildcard of the Alice in Chains type song and a Crowbar cover to boot, Magus certainly isn’t the only Thou release worth hearing from 2018.