Friday, March 15, 2013

Thrawsunblat: Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings

From the ashes of Woods of Ypres former members have put together some really convincing blackened folk metal, that for a Canadian export has a surprising European feel to it. After the piano intro of the first song blasts off into the great northern wild with epic galloping harmonies and then revisits the opening theme with almost an Arcturus like swing to it. There is a blend of clean vocals and harsher one that will satisfy most and make this a must for fans of the late David Gold.

Tracks like "Once Fireveined" have a more mournful quality to them, with clean vocals handled really well on the chorus and the growls aren't shabby either , the playing all the way around on this one is pretty mean but still grounded very much in melody, so with this being the case fans of the droney blast mc nasty side of black metal might find it to hold too much of the power metal elements that folk metal tends to embrace. I would put this on the more Moonsorrow end of the black metal spectrum, if you need to throw a black tag on this which seems to be contagious these days.

"We the Torchbearers" starts of slow but is not dark enough to fall under what I consider doom before it sweeps you up into the great gallop. It breaks down into a whispery accapella section and charges off likes warning that winter is coming. Of all the clean vocal melodies that wander into this song the one in the last minute works the best.

There are some acoustic moments that are straight up folk like "Goose River" , which while I keep a twenty dice nearby at all time is a little too Renn Fest for me, but it's executed in a genuine fashion and well played but I normally just go straight for the Jethro Tull, even though the melody was starting to grow on me.

"Bones in the Undertow" helps keep it from being to jarring transition back into the meat of the metal to the album, and think its effective as it doesn't jig around the campfire too long. Some times the vocals remind me more of Tyr than Woods of Ypres, they are normally baritone and don't drop down into the lower Type O negative register. I like the fact that in songs like this one where the folk elements are present it still maintains some darker grit. The fact the clean vocals aren't alway waaaay forward in the mix helps too.

The tile track returns to the big epic gallop and duelling clean/harsh vocals. The chorus soars in with a major transition which is interesting and the song doesn't switch it up until three minutes in with a break down that leads into the solo section. Thrawsunblat's strong point is the attention to detail in the songwriting. "Maritime Shores" falls back into the folk. The influence of David Gold's ghost haunts them when they go into this sorta of thing as it keeps them from sounding too much like minstrel. I do think fans of folk metal will dig these guys...and gal. I am going to avoid telling you what she plays and let you find out on your own as I think you will find it surprising and it's one of those things where just listening gender wouldn't color your judgement as she is as competent at her craft than male counterparts in this genre.

"View of a Million Trees" is more straightforward than most of the songs up to this point , there's a little jig to riffs and the cleans float more at the edges than taking the spotlight. The riffing towards the end takes a more commanding chug which caught my ear. "Borea" starts off looking to be the albums heaviest song and transitions into to more melodic territory which is not to faulted as it makes the song much more interesting and I like the fact they got more blasty on the solo section. The cleans vocals are most effective here where they color the corners of the song and provide texture. There's a really tasteful use of double bass at the end.

"Elegy Across the Silence" is an instrumental organ interlude that feels more like the intro to the following song than a stand along piece. "Song of the Nihilist" has my favorite intro on this album. There's a great balance of the folk and the metal elements on this even though the folk vocals sound like they are being sung by someone who has had too much mead in the pitch department , but this must be for effect. The dark syncopation is pretty much what sold me on this one. The song gets back on the horse to gallop off into the sunset, the clean vocals remind me more of Agalloch here. The album closer gets more medieval on that ass, the chug around the bridge I like as it has a more Dissection attack to it, whose influence I can hear with the stacatto riffs and there is a similar rasp to the vocals. But who can be faulted by being influenced by those guys and like Woods of Ypres they aren't putting out any albums any time soon so I'll take the breadcrumbs. The guitar solos I'm no wowed by but they work well for where they placed through out the album.

Overall I can see this album surviving for some time on my iPod and growing on me much like the last Khors album.
The folk is darker than most thanks to the impression their former band mate left, overall I like the dynamics and how they switch it up and I think that Khors album was the last folk infused album I can remember liking, I did pull an twelve hour Lord of the Rings marathon last week and found the experience to be very metal, while the black metal elements that are on this album are more along the lines of "Storm of the lights bane" era Dissection it's more foly than black metal but superior to the cheese of an Eluvietie so it made a good first impression on me due to songwriting and creative use of clean vocals so I'll go ahead and round this up to a 9 which up in this camp says something.

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