Review Summary: Sergeant Thunderhoof's penchant for psychedelia remains intact, but there’s a greater emphasis on catchy grooves and memorable vocal lines this time around.
Sergeant Thunderhoof’s second full-length Terra Solus expands on the proggy stoner doom sound that was last peddled on 2015’s Ride of the Hoof. The band seems to have gotten a spring in their step, as song lengths are trimmed to a comparably concise six-minute average and upbeat tempos are plentiful on even the most drawn out tracks. The UK band’s penchant for psychedelia remains intact, but there’s a greater emphasis on catchy grooves and memorable vocal lines this time around.
Thankfully, the band balances this approach with a hazy production job and strong musicianship. The bright, somewhat brittle guitar often provides the textural elements while the riffs and meaner rhythms are driven by the ultra-fuzzy bass. From there, the drumming is often loose without losing sight of a given song’s purpose while the vocals generally consist of untrained howls that aren’t afraid of getting too melodic.
The songs on Terra Solus aren’t too afraid of variety either, as each one comes out as distinct. Longer tracks like the opening “Another Plane” and “Diesel Breath” aren’t afraid of mixing in some memorable riffs in with their elaborate structures and slow burns while the more in your face “Stellar Gate Drive” and “Priestess of Misery” change things up just enough to avoid feeling too boneheaded.
There’s also influence from beyond the metal spectrum during the album’s softer moments. “The Tree and the Serpent” brings in the album’s lightest vocal harmonies and even shades of indie rock. From there, “Half a Man” is an incredibly sparse space rock ballad that transitions smoothly into the haunting closer “Om Shaantih.” I swear the latter is taking cues from what Steven Wilson has been releasing lately, and that suits me fine.
Overall, Terra Solus is an album that is as tricky to classify as it is easy to listen to. It’s an album that you can rock out to without thinking too hard about logistics, but there’s enough variety and enough going on structurally to warrant any navel gazing. Fans of bands like Baroness and Red Fang are sure to eat this up, though there’s enough crossover with fans of mid-era Cathedral and Orange Goblin. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Thunderhoof gets to even loftier levels in the future.
“Stellar Gate Drive”
“The Tree and the Serpent”
Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com