Thrall – Aokigahara Jukai

PromoImage (200x200)Having never heard Thrall, but being enamored with a good chunk of Australian metal exports as of late, I looked forward to spinning their third and latest album, Aokigahara Jukai. I hit play on ‘Longing For Death’, and was greeted with a guitar tone both crackled and warm, creating a humid fog of black metal setting the stage for the evil up-tempo onslaught to come. Thrall take BM orthodoxy and suffuse it with a healthy dose of crust, heaped upon the plate courtesy Tom Void’s punk-wraith voicings. In the hands of lesser musicians this combo of vocal styles could be annoying, but not so here; Void’s earnest wails and roars are the propellant to an understated riff spectrum that surrounds rather than confronts the ear. The guitars exude a suffocating quality that breaks for air with an unexpected (and welcome) snail-like doom before any blasting moments linger too long. Surprises continue as the album moves onward; ‘Its Toothless Maw’ simply rocks with a 4/4 stomp that will have you head-nodding with headphones ridiculously as passers-by roll their eyes. In tempo it reminds me of later Satyricon, but far more, well, ‘crustier’ and all the better for it with the dirt. Less pronounced but still present is Thrall’s death metal influence, as heard on ‘Ubasute’, which disturbs the between-song silence on arrival with a mud-crunching tremolo riff, carrying quickly onward towards a feedback break, only to return to the blasting black afterward, as the song ends with Silencer-like screams of anguish.

Thinking I new where the remainder of the record was headed, I was unprepared for the star-shimmering guitars of ‘The Pact’ that give off the feeling of an astral-projection gone awry. Midway through the track, just enough melody for color seeps through its churning riff-mire for you to sense a real sorrow amongst the musical horror, something I’d like to have heard even more of, but either way, it works.

Many emotions – excepting depression! – comprise the whole of Aokigahara Jukai, making it difficult to sum up where I leave off with the record. But I think leaving the listener with an uncertainty about what they’ve just heard may have been Thrall’s intent all along. If so, I’ll be glad to play this record again and again in an attempt to fully decipher it. -Jim

Moribund Records

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~ by cliftonium on November 20, 2013.

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