Saturday, March 6, 2010


A split album that succeeds on a much deeper level conceptually than musically. I appreciate wholeheartedly the thought that went into this split-NOLA doom/shoegaze juggernaut Thou teamed with Cascadian blackgaze iconoclasts Leech in a far-reaching effort to convey a sense of dread, hopelessness and infinity. With both bands contributing a near 20 minute song it seemed like a perfectly arranged artistic statement. But then the music fell flat, and everything got fucked up.
Thou's side fares a little better, as they just churn out the oppressive Eyehategod idolizing doom they're know for. A short and melodic acoustic intro brings us in and then Thou pummel you over the head with waves of thick guitar sludge and crashing, skull-splitting drums, along with those sick black-metal screams (i'll say this for Thou-their vocalist is one of the better ones working in the doom genre-very high pitched and totally, shreddingly raw) alongside a stumbling, drunken song structure that's slow enough to be punishing but fast enough to remain propulsive. Their 20 minutes moves easily, segueing into a brief coda of angelic female vocals and more MBV-style guitar-sludge strains, sort of like the Deftones' "Knife Party" played at 16 rpm. It's a decent track, nothing earth-shaking, but it doesn't do any sort of disservice to Thou's firm artistic niche.
Leech's side struggles more and that saddens me, because it's their side i was expecting more from. Obviously influenced both musically and geographically by fellow Northwesterners Wolves in the Throne Room and Fauna, Leech strive for the same levels of black metal transcendentalism and nature-worship achieved by those groups but fail miserably in execution and come up far short of the majesty of either. Repetitive guitar riffs abound along with endless whirring blastbeats but the whole thing is an amateur affair, seeming like it came out of the practice space just a week before it was recorded. It's tinny and small sounding and at times the drums struggle to keep up with the pace of the guitars, leaving everything in some confusing din of mediocrity. I'm sure in a year or so these guys will sign with Southern Lord and release some sort of masterwork but right now they're just mountain dwelling black metal dabblers-the only time the track falls into an interesting pattern is five minutes or so from the end, where the riffs collapse into a sort of thrashy d-beat and actually do some damage. Then the thing fades out for no reason only to fade back in again, on the same riff, just so it can slow down and bow out on an acoustic outro. What the fuck? I hate fade outs with a passion but a fade in is even worse, especially when it;s unnecessary in every way. I'm not saying Leech are without promise-give them awhile and i'm sure they'll get better-it's just that they shouldn't have been so eager to share some wax with a band that would easily upstage them. An added bonus: the album photography is really, really gorgeous.

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