Review Summary: Thou truly were “Born on the Bayou”.
Over the course of five years, Thou has created a legacy of uncompromising sludge/doom music. The first full-length, "Tyrant" , is the rawest of the three-full-length-trifecta.While seemingly undeveloped in tone, the low production quality is intended to put the listener in a swamp of social injustice. Thus being the lyrical content. A miry backdrop of alternating droning and riffing provides an atmospheric escape for the listener. One can imagine standing amongst an oppressed crowd, watching a public hanging amidst corrupted air. The songs coexist in a gorgeous yet ugly realm. Delayed reverb licks settle down slowly chugged, filthy riffs. Putting Thou on the map of bands to pay attention to, "Tyrant" proves much more than an ability to write metal.
Thou is not attempting to be the heaviest band, (contrary to what much of heavy-metallers’ agendas strive for), and it makes them all the more respectable. Lead singer Bryan Funck does much more than fill the lyric book with generic metal themes. Instead he reveals his heart and soul, writing about all the true inquisitions and gripes he has with society. Thou is one of those bands where the lyrics and music are equally important. Unfortunately, listeners run into the incomprehensible diction problem, prevalent in most screamed vocals. Raspy screeching, (clearly drawing inspiration from Zao), compliments the reverb-injected, southern, sludge noise being dragged along. When the duo guitarists are not mirroring the same devastating doom chords, refreshing leads break out into experimenting tones and create vast dimension to the song-structure. “With a Cold, Life Extinguishing Elegance” contains a western feeling segment towards the end, drawing comparison to Earth. Post-rock tremolos flutter about in the second track. Each song features a soothing, melodious lead to accompany the wreaking of havoc. The percussion is just enough, oftentimes flaring up with creative-enough fills.
"Tyrant" sports the loneliness of black metal, the anger of doom, and the ambition of post-rock. Though instead of drowning Thou in labels and comparisons, this should be appreciated for its original, creative qualities in and of itself. Whether due to low-budget or choice, the production prevents a lucid listen, but makes for a less refined, muddy, all-out tone. All this considered, this release tops their year-later album- "Peasant" and is even a heavier blow than recent release - "Summit". Thou’s second most crushing riff, trailing slightly behind "Peasant"’s “They Stretch Out Their Hands”, can be heard opening up “***ing Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean”. The riff grooves nastily throughout the song, overlaid with Funck’s honest pleas: “Reaper, join us. Father of death, return to us.” and leaves an impression of just how heavy, yet real, Thou is. No signs of pretense can be found within their music. Any band that’s bold enough to use “***ing” as an adjective ought to be able to back it up with kick-ass song-writing. Well, Thou, (along with Weakling and their track – “This Entire ***ing Battlefield”) do not disappoint. As dragging as some points in this album can seem, Thou rarely leaves the listener regrets. The entire doom genre is not for those with short attention spans. Not to mention the latter one-third of the “What Blood Still Runs Through These Veins” is strictly drone. Thou is music for those who are willing to slow down their lives for the greater purpose of enlightenment and entrancement. Therefore, the lyrical themes are wisely and poetically written to provide “Intellectual Ammunition” (as stated on their website) to the deep thinkers. Funck lashes out at religious bigots in the title track: “Look to me in hate, pity or indifference--but don't expect longing or acceptance in these eyes, or in these words--not for your pompous egotism, boisterous moral posturing, righteous indignation, or resignation to constant suffering.” The imagery about societal and self-slavery is remarkable.
Thou shows versatility, unrestraint, and aspiration with their first full-length release. With room for growth in song-writing and style "Tyrant" is not the biggest tree trunk to fall on the ground. However, is mighty close, stepping ahead of typical doom bands who limit themselves to monotonous style. It is worth diving head-first into this sludgy marsh and getting covered from head-to-toe in solid riffing and ferocious activist claims. Thou truly were “Born on the Bayou”.