Review Summary: Thou, You Have Nothing To Answer For
Sludge ma-f u c k i n-gicians Thou have returned, though they haven't really been gone. While it has been 4 years since their last LP, the band hasn't been waiting in the wings and twiddling their thumbs. Nay, they have been touring, collaborating, cutting what's left of their teeth with what seems like every passing day- hell, just last week they 'released' a split LP with powerviolence/grind group, The HIRS Collective without saying a word. Since the much lauded Heathen
was released in 2014, Thou has released a handful of splits and collaborative albums with multiple bands from different genres, delivering their trademark brand of doomy sludge through new lenses to audiences all over the world. The most frequent and, arguably, the most substantial and unique union has been with their experimental and polarizing sludge companions, The Body, who are known for dredging up absolutely filthy atmospheres that seethe with droning noise and Chip King's ear-splitting howls.
These frequent collaborations with The Body seem to have crept like an ice cream truck into Thou's songwriting as The House Primordial
is easily the most experimental album in the band's discography. These influences show up often and are more blatant in some moments than others but will surely be the defining trait of the album's identity when all is said and done. They make their presence known immediately with the atmospheric opener, Wisdom
, and appear again in full force with the loud drone of Prideful Dementia And Impulsive Mayhem
, the brief menace of Corruption and Moral Trauma
, and the dreadful march of Birthright
Fear not, the Thou of old is here- just not as much as on their previous LP's, leaving the end result feeling a lot more like a collaboration than a Thou album. You will find the uncompromising blackened screams of Bryan Funck and the grueling pace of his band-mates at their peak in flashes here and there but that isn't when The House Primordial
is at its absolute best. That honor is reserved for the tracks where these two halves collide; feeling like a high-speed car accident captured at 5 frames per second with every ugly scrape and skid competing with the pummeling rhythm of a blown tire left spinning against a wheel well. It is a beautiful disaster to behold. The explosive and deteriorating Diaphanous Shift
is a holy union of noise and despair. Occulting Light
is a plank walk that can only be found on a ghost ship in a remote desert. Finally, Malignant Horror
drags the listener by its heels to confront and give into their deepest fears, whatever they may be, marking a horrific end to a confusing journey.
Perhaps this direction shouldn't have been a surprise considering the activity between albums, but I can't help but think the end product feels less like a Thou LP than any of its predecessors. This would sit nicely next to their compilations and split releases, but it sticks out like a sore thumb when considering their other full-length albums. Who knows❓ Maybe that is where this will actually land. The band is notoriously quiet with what can barely be considered and online presence and haven't released any details regarding the recording or release of this album. If this culmination of four years of work is indeed the heir to Heathen
's throne, so be it- certainly a risky but solid release is nothing to scoff at and the band owes us nothing. However, each time the albums ends, I'm left admitting to myself that I was hoping for more; even if it was more of the same.