Review Summary: “Sludge As You Are”
To Louisiana sludge purveyors, Thou (or punk-cum-sludge, depending on how literally you read into their interviews), exploitative and kaleidoscopic views into other genres is nothing new, even though this year's suite of EPs has pushed the boundaries of who they are as a band. Although less obvious, grunge, and most notably Nirvana, has been a recurring influence on Thou (if you count a covers album as less obvious
), with the genre's DNA being a common thread throughout their discography.
Inspired heavily by Thou's grunge progenitors, Rhea Sylvia
, then, makes more sense than, say, The House Primordial
or (especially) Inconsolable
. But a 'grunge' revival this is not. While the aforementioned EPs sought to emulate the respective sounds of 'noise metal(?)' and 'morose folk(??)' Rhea Sylvia
merely kisses its inspiration, yielding a product that is wholly Thou, but by way of something familiarly different. It's no surprise then that the EP works best when the band's experimentation is seamless. Songs like "The Only Law" and "Deepest Sun" scream grunge, with their fuzzier production and clean vocals sung soulfully atop Brian's standard wails. The cord progressions elicit visions of the Pacific Northwest in the 90s, albeit with the hellish torrent of Thou's usual onslaught. The EP works equally well when things are less obvious, such as the surprisingly standard "Unfortunate Times," which allows a little re-tethering to the norm in order to gain some perspective on the band's high ambitions. These ambitions, of which, are completely realized as Rhea Sylvia
is a beautiful and haunting standout among an already incredible body of work.