Although deriving back to the late 50’s, ‘Outsider Music’ is a term that seems all the more in use to describe a sound that simply refuses to be categorised. Kind of in-line with this, ThrOes an outfit from Tasmania have in equally obtuse fashion decided to introduce us to ‘Dissident Metal.’ It makes sense the more you listen to their almost fathomlessly and painstakingly constructed debut album ‘The Viper Womb’ too. The fact that it has found a home on Aesthetic Death should give you a clue that this is going to be no easily pigeonholed work and as far as I’m concerned even the normally reliable Metal Archives classification of calling this avant-garde black metal is a stab in the dark and completely at odds with what I am generally hearing here. Put together over a long time period, main composer, musician and vocalist Trent Griggs with some help from James Ludbrook (additional vocals) and drummer Kevin Talley of Suffocation and a plethora of other acts have really constructed something that stands out here and an album that is far from a quick fix as far as getting beneath its labyrinthine layers is concerned.
The message and form of narrative on opener ‘Permanent Midnight’ tell us courtesy of author Terrance McKenna that culture and ideology are not our friend. It’s a heavy start that gets you thinking straight from the off before things musically start to unravel over the next 66 minutes. When the vocals howl in full of disgust and contempt you know you are about to be dragged through a hedge backwards as they bristle and yap at you with belligerent indignation but it’s just a preface to the full weight of things that come punching in on self-descriptive number ‘Shock To The Guts.’ Motion is turbulent and swaggers away with a real rugged groove. Put me on the spot and being an annoying reviewer that simply cannot do as the artist wants and not put this in some sort of box, I have to say that ‘sludge’ is the focal mood I get out of this overall stylistically. It’s partly due to the high slung vocal barks and the doom laden deadbeat feel of the riffing here. It’s dirty and grimy and a deathly vocal “urgh” just enforces this. However as the album evolves there are a myriad of other moods and nuances to discover. Glistening and very intricate passages have a near psychedelic sheen to them and you lose yourself hypnotically before the abrasive snarl of ‘Dead Lights’ snap you out of any reverie, the dual vocal attack causing a real jolt back to life. Songs twist and turn and are allowed just the right time to develop and turn in on themselves and no shortage of very ugly images invade the consciousness. If you want an idea watch the video at the bottom of the review and get ready to have your senses invaded.
It’s not all dark and manic, moments of light are found as with the gorgeous post rock melody of ‘Conscience Makes Cowards,’ naturally the bellicose vocal accompaniment is far from fragile as the disparate emotions flow together in a state of flux. ‘Nothing Left For The Vultures’ picks at the bones slowly with methodical precision whereas ‘Nowhere Else’ rides roughshod and injects a frantic urgency into things. With its rugged grooves and throat shredding vocal roars, it really thrusts itself in your face at first before wallowing in gloom and dirt till it slowly ebbs out. There’s certainly something to be found in each and every track giving them all identity but it is an album that begs to be consumed as a whole in one sitting. Looking back on what I have written so far there’s not a mention of any other band and although I could very randomly pull some out the hat it is obvious that the uniqueness of ThrOes has weathered the storm. As the title track chops and changes rhythmically it is also pretty obvious that this is an album that is going to reveal more on each listen. There’s an approach of fast and furious Indie rock to the up-front guitar frenzy on ‘Lavish The Anger’ and a bit of a hardcore vibe with the vocals too. The album is feeding ideas continuously and is in no danger of running out of them. When it finally does it feels like it needs to actually do so in an acoustic and ambient way as sudden silence would be too much of a shock to the system; well that’s the way I found it.
You are going to find an album that you get a huge amount out of with this and it’s one you won’t grow tired of quickly whilst you try and scratch its multi-pointed surface. That’s probably just as well considering how long it is likely for a follow up and that due to location live appearances are very unlikely. For the time being I expect this viper to poison tenaciously, it’s bite has certainly been deadly. Love the artwork too.
(8.5/10 Pete Woods)