Review Summary: Summit is the product of focused songwriting and rock-solid musicianship, and is an album which perfects the sound and shows the full potential of an already great band.
What really captures your attention throughout the course of Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s sludge metal outfit Thou’s latest album Summit
is the attention to detail. The album is literally littered with countless riffs that play on the usual sludge sound: rumbling, muddy, plodding, and rambling. While the album does base itself firmly on this premise, with the vocals being equally wandering and rather harsh, the beauty comes through when the music breaks for the numerous passages of harmonious guitar licks and atmospheric fodder that contrasts the doom metal tendencies of their more straightforward sludge moments with sheer perfection. The detail in the composition to scatter these bridges in the right places is daunting, because it makes a genre with a pretty thick and impenetrable signature sound seem effortless and dynamic; a feat that is the norm on Summit
Anyone who’s heard Thou’s other albums will not be surprised by the content of Summit
, instead they will be surprised by how concentrated and focused the album is. In fact, it’s hard to come up with any moments where the music is well and truly stagnant, because the riffs are constantly shifting and they are of such quality where, even if they did stick around for a while, you wouldn’t really care. The only real way to fault the album is that Thou really haven’t evolved their sound too much, instead they’ve taken all the great ideas they’ve had throughout their time as a band and put it all down onto one album. Only on the atmospheric instrumental “Summit Revisited” do things approach boring, but this is almost dismissible because the track is only three minutes long, compared to the nine to ten minute average on the other songs.
The dissonant melodies and the really at-home, atmospheric sludge metal riffing shine through as the real key players in making Summit
so successful. The vocals; nothing more than a slow, raspy screeching affair, also play in with the guitars and really fit perfectly, something which another approach (like perhaps deep death metal growls) wouldn’t convey. The plodding bass guitar fits well but doesn’t necessarily make a name for itself, and the drumming is competent, but in a genre such as this the focus isn’t on overly technical drumming anyway. What really matters, when all is said and done, is that Thou have written the best album of their career with Summit
, an album which is the most pleasant surprise of 2010 thus far. If you think sludge really isn’t your thing, I urge you to at least give Summit
a chance, because letting this album slip through your fingers isn’t doing it justice in the least bit.