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Feel the heavens falling - 90%

Drowned, April 23rd, 2006

The second studio effort of Thou Shalt Suffer is this 7" vinyl released by Mexico's Distorted Harmony Records. Here are two songs that continue in the tradition of the "Into the Woods..." tape. It's another dose of haunting and dissonant death metal coming from the cold plains of Norway. In many ways this is stronger than the demo material, but I wouldn't necessarily say that it's a clear-cut improvement.

The most notable difference right off the bat is the boosted production. Obviously, because this is on vinyl the sound quality should automatically be better, but it's apparent that some final touches were made in the studio to remedy certain set-backs from the demo recording sessions. I love how they were finally able to bring out the double bass. It gives the drumming a much needed boost of vigor. Not only that, but the bass guitar itself is much louder this time. The keyboards seem to be equally higher in the mix, but sometimes they sound too forced and almost out of place. Ihsahn's vocal style hasn't changed, but there is more reverb to his voice on this recording. Although I prefer the vocal layering on the demo tape, the eerie, distant effect his voice has on the 7" is just as cool to listen to.

"Painful Void of Time" is a traditionally structured song, consisting of recurrent verse/chorus sections. The tempo goes from mid-paced, to doomy, to all-out blasting. The keyboards play a secondary role, only accentuating the main riffs of the song. The slow, doom-like riff played before the chorus sounds like it was stolen from Disgrace's "Waves of Hypocrisy Seas". While not completely identical, it does sound suspiciously similar to these ears. The other track, "Spectral Prophecy", has a lot more going on. The keyboards have now moved into a dominant position over certain sections of the song. The first minute or so is extremely melodic and upbeat because of this. Luckily, the tempo quickly shifts into a speedy assault of violence and blasphemy. The blasting parts during the middle remind me of the JL America band Deteriorate, and, to a lesser extent early Sadistik Exekution. The keys work their way back into the mix with the arrival of some melancholic doom riffing to finish off the track.

These days, Thou Shalt Suffer no longer has anything to do with death metal as Ihsahn has decided to only use the name for his shitty ambient recordings. But the darkness of the past will not soon be forgotten...