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Potential mired by kinks to be worked - 70%

doomknocker, June 30th, 2010

This band has seen quite a bit of name-dropping on online forums (both the necessary and the unneeded) in recent weeks, and, due to my cat-killing curiosity, I just had to find out what the hubbub was all about. More often than not when such a situation occurs, the group doesn’t fulfill their end of the musical bargain, leaving us grizzled metal veterans confused and bothered. Honestly…it wouldn’t kill the “Instant Fame, Just Add Heaviness” bands if they would inject some much-needed infectiousness into their albums. I’d mention specific groups whose inability to knock it outta the park warrant a stylistic kick to the nuts, but that would get me into trouble. And who wants that? But I’m getting ahead of myself here…after all, I’d never even heard any mention of THULCANDRA before outside of some obscure-ass DARKTHRONE song, and I really shouldn’t cast such judgment on a group I’d not heard before.

So, with both ears open, and both hands held together, I dove head-first into what they had to offer me…

One thing I’ll give THULCANDRA credit for upon first listen…given their heavy-with-an-epic-touch black metal sound, it’s very, very hard to makes things continue to sound original after all these fiery, soot-clad years. Nevertheless, they’re able to use this musical approach and conjure forth some pretty wicked material, modernistic with that older feel that brings to life the deathly cold cover art rather well. The riffing and leads couple bouncy melody with an acidic bitterness that is blackened to the bone and earnest in approach, reminding this listener of the oozing chaos of vintage GORGOROTH combined with the speed-laden violence of first-few-albums-era DARK FUNERAL in a rather natural way, and when combined with the somewhat-drowned-out bass lines and triggered hyper-blasts it makes for some solid, well-to-do evil material that does what it can to counteract the negative aspects the album possesses. And sadly, those do come to pass, as this is not what I would deem a perfect album…for as good as the material is, it’s at times mired by somewhat lifeless, croaking vocals and a rather hollow production value which renders much of the album thin and a bit ungainly. Considering their musical scheme, I think that a harsher, more wall-of-sound feel would’ve been of beneficence to the album, as would scaling down many of the songs’ lengths, where 4 minutes, 5 at best, of material is pushed a bit further than is necessary depending on the songs. Such lengths can be seen as important for the more epic tracks like “Frozen Kingdom” and “Everlasting Fire”, but it doesn’t always work out best as heard on “Night Eternal” and “Spirit of the Night”. Still, such wayward performances aren’t as ipecac-on-the-ears as others of their ilk, to which I give plenty of brownie points to the group.

So in the end, THULCANDRA has potential present, and would probably be “next big thing” material if they can rein in what limitations are just as present. I can see why this name has been popping up as often as it has, and it’s my hope that their musical way of life can only get better from here.