Review Summary: The withering beauty of a stripped off monster.
2018 has been a busy year for Thou. Not that the sludge lords from Baton Rouge care about schedules, marketing tactics or any other extraneous issues to their music. As long-time advocates of the DIY culture, Thou has always been overtly clear about their philosophy and things happen as they want, when they want. This is their creed, and the faith in it has allowed them to work with an extensive number of artists to produce an impressive catalog in their ten plus years of existence.
Just a few days after the release of the claustrophobic ambient nightmare known as The House Primordial
, Thou releases Inconsolable
, the second part of a trilogy of EPs (or a four releases scheme if we count the culminating long play Magus
). If you have ever thought what would happen if the band dropped the stout distortion, the pounding beats and the visceral screams of Bryan Funck, that is what Inconsolable
has materialized into.
Make no mistake though, no matter how many layers of rot you peel off the rawness of their humongous body, Thou will always sound like Thou. The low tuned guitars maintain their crusty texture and the songs drag to a swamp marching tempo, but this time they do it in their purest form up to date. The vocals are the most astounding element in Inconsolable
. The band surrounds themselves one more time with long time collaborators like Emily McWilliams and touring bassist KC Stafford to take over singing in some of the tracks, with added harmonies by Melissa Guion of New Orleans dream pop outfit MJ Guider and True Widow's Nicole Estill.
is an ode to loneliness, an unfathomable solitude which Bryan Funck's harrowing lyrics express with his usually breathtaking swiftness. "The Unspeakable Oath" kicks off things embarking on a grunge inspired tune led by the shockingly and beautiful clean voice of who I believe is Bryan Funck himself*. Almost like in a dream state, the song ends with an alluring chant before giving way to McWilliams and Guion harmonized voices on "Come Home You Are Missed". There are not ear-candy melodies in Thou's acoustic spawn; instead, everything in Inconsolable
feels like a sinking marsh where these songs are cursed to roam endlessly. The drums are barely touched, being just maces gently falling on the cymbals and tapping the drum-kit with dying beat, while the bass is restraint in the back like a tamed but hungry beast. Songs like "Behind the Mask Another Mask" don't even have this, its withering nature reduced to McWilliams and Gion's voices answering each other on top of a skeletal finger picking.
Thou show with Inconsolable
that they are not afraid of stepping forward in their most naked and fragile form. There is something essentially beautiful in the hideous shape of their music, no matter how amplified and distorted it’d be. Re-imagining songs like "Fallow State" or "Into The Scourge Pit" in truly Thou's fashion is not too hard. The distortion is replaced by the rusty clang of the loose strings and the sporadic piano, but the melancholy and the excruciating feel of their sound is kept untarnished, and that alone makes Inconsolable
another inherent piece of that wonderful enigma that is and will ever be Thou.
* It seems vocals on this track are carried out by guitarist Matthew Thudium.