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Thal - Reach For The Dragon's Eye

Reach For The Dragon's Eye
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 25 February 2018, 2:27 PM

THAL is an American Heavy Stoner Doom band that consists of two people, John Walker and Kevin Hartnell.  I’ve reviewed a lot of Doom; it’s one of my favorite Metal sub genres and there are just so many good bands and albums out there.  Every time I get a new Doom album to review, I obviously notices the crushing heaviness before anything else.  Obviously, what makes a band heavy or what sounds heavy is very subjective.  However, I can’t imagine anyone saying anything other than “goddamn, this is some heavy shit,” if they heard THAL’s second album, “Reach for the Dragon’s Eye.”

Some Doom bands are heavy because of the guitars.  Others because of the bass.  Some are heavy because of the production or maybe even the overall atmosphere.  Hell, some are heavy because the vocals are as course as the music. THAL is heavy because of all these reasons.  The opening track, “Rebreather,” barely let me breathe, so oppressive was the opening fuzz that was spitting out my headphone speakers.  Indeed, often times I thought my head was going to cave in (this is a compliment!).  This song just has that Stoner Rock fuzz and the Doom Metal groove that just crushes. The next track, “Under Earth,” features such distorted riffs I thought my poor headphone’s speakers had blown out.  Sputtering fuzz squeezes out and the bass guitar hammers you, like a pendulum slowly making its way to slice you in half.   Despite its heaviness, the track has a rare energy, a sort of laid back approach that combines with the heavier tones to create something unique.  This song is what would happen to FU MANCHU if someone fed them steroids.

There is a surprising amount of variety to this album.  Stoner/Doom aren’t things one really thinks of when they hear that word.  How can you give something so dense and enchantingly crushing variety?  How can the sound open up without losing what makes it so special in the first place?  I don’t know how you do but THAL figured it out. “Her Gods Demand War,” perhaps because of the female vocals or WALKER’s own spaced out vocals, sounds really old school but not just in a Doom way.  I’m also getting gives of classic Rock here mixed in.   At just over six minutes, the song never gets old and kept me interested all the way through.  I really like how Walker kept the bass groove going during the hazy guitar solo.  Hartnell’s own bass from his drums really complimented the sound as well.

When “Thoughtform,” came on, I could had sworn I accidentally skipped to a SOUNDGARDEN song.  Stoner Doom mixed with the sounds of the early 90’s mainstream grunge, but without the cheese?  TAKE MY MONEY NOW.   I’m also hearing some CLUTCH influences here, which is even better. The last two tracks are personal highlights.  “Punish” shows the band’s large sound and be contained in a three minute or so burst but without losing their core sound.  This song is a bit more up tempo and straightforward but it never loses the groove, heaviness, and even manages to be a bit catchy. An album’s title track should always be something great and THAL carry that tradition with this album.  The rolling bass line caught my attention immediately, as did the thunderous bass drumming after the song gets electric about a minute and half into it.  There is a sudden burst of raw energy for the chorus, giving the darkness quite a bit of an edge.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Rebreather
2. Under Earth
3. Her Gods Demand War
4. Thoughtform
5. Soulshank
6. Death of the Sunday
7. Punish
8. Reach for the Dragon’s Eye
John “Vince Green” Walker – Vocals, Guitars, and Bass
Kevin Hartnell – Drums, Guitars, and Synth
Record Label: Argonauta Records


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