It’s always a wonder how artists can turn the simplest of ideas into something more, transcending the norm and in turn reinforces just how versatile a genre/artist/band can be. Take Thaw’s self-titled 2013 record for example; it’s not reinventing the black metal wheel, nor is it adding any unnecessary clichés or gimmicks. At the album’s heart, it’s a black metal record, straight-forward and true – which makes it all the more special. Don’t misread that into thinking it’s a barrel of blast beats, distorted guitars and indistinguishable shrieking vocals, Thaw is much more than that, promoting an integral depth transforming the album into an atmospheric mass, whilst not forgetting its black metal roots. Hailing from Poland, these experimental black metalers are great at providing an air of mystique. Despite the traditional black metal stereotypes, Thaw has a certain avant-garde rounding that smooths what would normally be considered your typical approach to experimental black metal (if experimental metal would ever be considered ‘typical’).
Normally a blanket term would do enough to cover the vast and sweeping soundscapes found on Thaw, but the idealism behind that would be considered lazy and would frankly, miss the mark. The greatest selling point of this record is its ability to be seamless between tracks presenting the listener with an album that is one package, without pause or remorse. Being so fluid, Thaw’s self-titled takes on a different atmosphere and the musical journey becomes all the more intense. If anything could be said to accurately describe this monolithic shaped record; it’s that the intricate webbing of Thaw’s writing has manifested in what could be considered their opus too date. Thaw has tipped the cold iceberg on its head and shown the world the ethereal grandeur that nobody sees until it’s too late. The melancholy shown throughout really ties the seamless ability of the album together. This is an album that shines through existence’s murky despair, promoting anguish, pain, suffering while complimenting each with a tasteful elegance.
Thaw is a journey, forty-three minutes long and unfortunately, is over before you would like it to be. Tracks like ‘Divine Light’ which fluctuate the entire albums grand design with almost catchy melodic patterns before launching into full-forced emotion laced screams and shrieks remain steady highlights for Thaw’s self-titled, but it is far from the only stand out of the album. Despite its rather bleak output, Thaw’s self-titled is actually quite promising as far as the genre goes. At times the record will even meander, pause, and wait. This ensnares the listener, promoting this ill-tempered anguish and nullification before beginning again with the aural attack that is Thaw’s self-titled. With all this positive talk, reinforcing just how spectacular this album ought to be, there is still something that misses. It’s almost maddening that a band can come so close yet be missing something most won’t be able to put their fingers on, chances are it’s not a reflection on a group that are doing so well. Instead, it’s more likely to be the over populated genre, and the watering down of its trademark stereotypes. If you’re hoping to hear any old school, traditional black metal vibes, Thaw doesn’t do that either. The self-titled is a demonstration of great experimental black metal made in a modern age and despite missing that important something, is still worth multiple listens.
1. The Gate
3. Divine Light
5. World’s Grave
6. Hunted Prey
7. Under the Slag Heap