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Thou : Magus

Thou's latest full-length release simply cements their status as Doom royalty, delivering their dynamic vision across a huge spread of top-tier music.

It has been a personal belief for a long, long time now that the two epicenters for exceptional Metal in the world are Britain and the American South. While the former contains a slew of bands most readers will be able to list automatically, the latter deserves a closer look. Bands like Crowbar and Eyehategod hail from New Orleans while both Daylight Dies and Hour of 13 hail from NC, better known personally as home. This brings the discussion to Thou.

Hailing from Louisiana, Baton Rouge specifically, and not NOLA, this has got to be the busiest, hardest working band, period. While the band have released five full-lengths now counting their latest, 'Magus', they have released 27 Eps and splits including a remarkable four this year alone. Multiple bands would be happy to share such a wealth of creativity between them. Having been a fan since their first full-length, 'Tyrant', that a best friend of mine turned me onto, witnessing the band’s growth along with the evolution of their sound has been nothing short of enjoyable as well as inspirational. Though Thou have released such a wealth of material, quality control is firmly in place, including the subject at hand, 'Magus'.

At just over an hour and thirteen minutes, this album is a gargantuan undertaking, and even more so considering the material released earlier this year. The remainder of the review, however, will be void of mention and comparison to the other releases this year with the intent of wanting to closely examine 'Magus' singularly. If the band could bottle up their well of creativity, they would become rich many times over. Despite the album’s length, it doesn’t demand but rather commands one’s attention.

Beyond the deeply crawling slow tempos with mesmerizing grooves, there is an almost hidden matrix of tone. Instead of the normal intervals used by a band such as Iron Maiden when harmonizing, Thou wrestle out of convention with their own harmonies effectively opening songs up and making them grandly majestic (there’s that root “mage” again). A perfect example of this is the main riff section of opening track, ‘Inward’. Each guitar is panned hard left and right respectively enabling the listener to hear a clear representation of the instrumental idea. Thus, the contradiction between bass, guitar one, and guitar two provides a fuller-realized chordal structure. These guys have been at it for quite a while and the maturity gained when comparing 'Magus' to 'Tyrant' is remarkably bountiful.

In capturing their ideas Thou use what the best bands have used at the center of their songs: vibe. The difference in atmosphere at separate moments astounds and enchants. Listening to this while working can be hit or miss for sometimes one is energized and influenced while others can be times when one’s train of thought becomes derailed into a jungle, dense with overhanging ideas and rich in tone and scope so as to being practically unable to navigate.

Third track, ‘Transcending Dualities,’ features a punishing guitar riff that though being comprised of four notes, aptly resonates with an aggressive punch. There is such a pummeling kick out of the parts palm-muted that accents the chord changes. One cannot help but fall under the spell of the gorgeously-created harmonies of the following track, ‘The Changeling Prince’. One is reminded a bit of Neurosis when each guitar takes a distinctively different approach, one dissonant, and the other melodic.

This is truly music to become lost to. The personal favorite track is the seventh, ‘In The Kingdom Of Meaning’. It reminds one why Doom matters so much with its gradual build from mellow to spitefully nasty. A high point of the song is about a third in when one realizes the guitars are playing a gorgeously melodic part while Brian Funck tears away the vibe, slashing at it and puncturing at key parts. The roar of the eighth track, ‘Greater Invocation Of Disgust,’ combines monster riffs with a veracity of tone and harmony. There is no filler, ultimately, Thou are Doom royalty.

A major point key to the band’s success is tone. Like a championship football team, each player reinforces the other, propelling the group to a richer dimension of sound. The guitar tone is solid and constructed around a voracious palm-muting attack and huge chords that hang in the air like floating fiber glass ready to serrate any who come too close. The guitars are obviously tuned down, but theirs is a sound built on massive girth, moving massive amounts of air while being soaked in tube-powered gain, though not fuzz.

It is the intersection at which the guitars encounter the bass that the band sounds heaviest. The bass, drowning in distortion adds its weight against chords, effectively finishing them. Ever-moving, it resounds loudly when contrasting the guitars. It truly sounds like a Southern version of Peter Steele. The drums give the music its motion, all the while keeping a captivated audience.

Theirs is a crushingly splendid formula. That formula would not be complete were it not for the vocals. Bryan Funck has a style that sounds like a Black Metal version of Eyehategod’s Mike IX Williams. Giving the album a contrasting color is the returning collaboration with Emily McWilliams. Her voice portrays innocence and purity: a sharp difference to Funck’s venomous, lacerating delivery. The end result is musical magic.

Thou are clearly Doom royalty. Few bands can touch the songwriting, especially US bands, let alone the amount of creative output. By combining horror with beauty, black with white, and so on, theirs is a sound far richer than most. Also, one can hear a plethora of influences from Punk and Hardcore as well. They certainly have an edge setting them apart with such a mammoth-sized sound, and their art will forever reside in the pocket they magnanimously carved and charitably defined.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Inward
2. My Brother Caliban
3. Transcending Dualities
4. The Changeling Prince
5. Sovereign Self
6. Divine Will
7. In the Kingdom Of Meaning
8. Greater Invocation Of Disgust
9. Elimination Rhetoric
10. The Law Which Compels
11. Supremacy

Duration : Approx. 73 minutes

Visit the Thou bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-10-09 by Chris Hawkins
Aesthetic Death
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