Review Summary: One of the most intense and otherwordly listening experiences of the year.
A band’s decision to remain anonymous along with playing shows donning hooded cloaks and barely interacting with the outside world may come across as pretentious and gimmicky to some, but one listen to Sacred White Noise will prove that Thantifaxath are something else entirely. Effortlessly combining otherworldly progressive passages reminiscent of Mastodon with atmospheric black metal akin to Wolves in the Throne Room, they make their influences known while stamping their own creative mark on the scene. Dizzyingly technical guitar work and freneticism truly challenge the resolve and endurance of the listener almost constantly. Even within the context of black metal and extreme metal in general, Sacred Wise Noise is especially grating and simultaneously brutal in its relentless assault alongside the grim soundscapes and interludes. The vocals are especially tortured and discordant alongside the auditory madness, screeching of the celestial and the otherworldly.
An immediate reality Sacred White Noise makes apparent is how hypnotically nightmarish the experience will be straight from the opening track. With crushing brutality and viciousness more commonly associated with death metal, Thantifaxath does away with genre tropes and instead opts for a blend of styles reminiscent of Meshuggah’s Catch-33 and Agalloch’s Marrow of the Spirit. Dark psychedelia and beautifully apocalyptic soundscapes permeate the senses to create a visceral and at the same time transcendingly hellish listening experience. “Where I End and the Hemlock Begins” shows how skilled Thantifaxath are at building up and then letting loose their apocalyptic fury. Incendiary black metal sections are traded off with proggier passages for the first few minutes until an explosion of fury erupts in the form of dense walls of guitars and blasting drums until finally shimmering down into a mysterious sounding clean guitar, slowly building until the next inevitable attack.
Much of Sacred White Noise consists of dense psychedelia and eerie atmospherics that permeate the psyche, resulting in some truly unsettling and tormenting moments exhibited perfectly in the instrumental “Eternally Falling.” Dissonant violins paint a bizarre picture alongside gradually building guitar until once again leading into the next aural assault, “Panic Becomes Despair.” Tremolo picking guitar and frantic blasts make up the first half until a maze of descending guitar lines take over, and right when you think the song will transition into a calming atmosphere, the blasts suddenly come back and the riff is repeated over harsh shrieks until the dissonant static ending. Most of the album consists of lulling the listener into a false sense of security with either atmospherics or moody melodic passages before suddenly exploding in the listener’s ears with the most ferocity and torment likely to be heard in any record all year.
The most otherwordly and hellish track closes out Sacred White Noise running at an epic 11 minutes long, “Lost in Static Between Worlds.” Demonic sound effects set the mood until the first blasting section, which then gives way to insanely fast guitar tapping over frantic drum soloing and hellish effects. This is the true crescendo of the whole album, every instrument in a state of complete chaos. It finally climaxes into a clean guitar lightly strumming jazz chords. But soon a heavy, dissonant breakdown crushes over more hellish shrieking, “Where are you?” The sheer emotion and power of the question is desperately repeated over some of the most tortured sounding tremolo guitar picking, once again transitioning into static and sound effects closing out one truly hellish listen.
One of the only complaints to be made is the surprisingly short length of Sacred White Noise. A 6-minute interlude track and the mostly static and atmospheric intros and outros means under 40 minutes of actual music. While this could be a detriment in some cases, it ends up mostly working for the album. The overall listen is so dense and spiralingly hypnotic, part of you will be glad it’s over. Criminally overlooked, Sacred White Noise is a truly unique and otherwordly listen that all fans of boundary pushing extreme metal will appreciate and puzzle over for years to come.