Crushing, cacophonous, and weighted with an ominously shadowy ambience…
Review by Jason Guest
Release date: 24 October 2014 (CD); 6 December 2014 (LP)
With their self-titled first full length (reviewed here), Thaw explored the bounds between music, sound and art to create an album comprised of the best of black, atmospheric, experimental, and avant-garde sludge-doomed noise. Its shadowy ambience was weighted with an impressive might and black majesty that now, a year and a half after its release, remains as colossal as it was then. 2014 and album number two, Earth Ground, sees the band push deeper into the darkness, the dirt, and the mire to explore the realms concealed within.
With track titles suggesting a journey through three lightless and cold days, each track is a domain of its own. While ‘First Day’ plays host to a solitary distorted guitar singing a cold lament, drawing on black metal for a dense and ravaging back drop, ‘Afterkingdom’ brings with it the melodic aspect of the band and foregrounds the precise approach that the band take in their craft. ‘Sun’ and ‘No Light’, while dark and commanding, both maintain a bitterness and a sinister and mesmerising chill, their hold over the listener broken only by the eruption of chaotic noise and the wall of frenzied and tumultuous drums and cymbals of ‘Second Day’.
The seven-minute ‘Soil’ is a wall of noise, a mammoth structure comprised of electronic ambience, a mass of thudding drums, rising tides and a flood of black metal rage. Every step through the cold winds of the bleak and barren landscape of ‘Winter’s Bone’ is tortured, laboured, a test of one’s mettle. And with the haunting electronica the gateway to the leaden might and unbending force of Thaw at their heaviest, ‘Last Day’ closes the album in as impressive a manner as ‘Under The Slag Heap’ concluded their self-titled debut.
Whether dissonance or devastation, menace, meditation, or melancholy, Thaw engage with it as the song requires and lets it go at the precise moment that it’s not. This meticulous approach to each track’s needs is balanced with the band’s instrumental prowess. The harsh chords, the discordant and jarring passages, and the ethereal melodic phrases woven into the cacophony, the music is never once compromised. And with an excellent production to enhance the many facets of this album, Thaw has torn wide the abyss from which their sound emerges and once more brought unto the world an incredible piece of work.
9 out of 10
For more on the album and the band’s evolution, read Jason’s interview with Thaw’s bassist & vocalist M. here
- First Day
- No Light
- Second Day
- Winter’s Bone
- Last Day