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Thal - The Harvesting Award winner

The Harvesting
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 30 December 2019, 4:19 AM

I reviewed THAL’s previous album, “Reach For The Dragon’s Eye,” last year and enjoyed it immensely.  I praised it for its amount of variety and the way it blended in other genres into their obvious Doom/Sludge sound. So how is their new, and third, full length album, “The Harvesting?”  It takes everything that made the previous album great and just amplifies it by ten.  More Doom, more Sludge, more influences—it doesn’t reinvent their sound so much as just adds more to it.  And that is fine with me and I’m sure few would complain.

Overall, the nine tracks are based on a huge wall of Sludge/Doom that encompasses everything.  I listened to this in my car and it definitely made me want to roll my windows down and just…exist within the moment and sights.  That isn’t to say the album is laid back—in fact, I found “The Harvesting,” to be much darker than the previous effort.  But the way they take a hard rock approach to their Doom gives the album an atmosphere that is for just about any emotion you are feeling.  I mentioned FU MANCHU influences on the last album and, sure enough, Walker and Hartnell know just how to make crushing Doom riffs work with a more groove laden approach.  I also recall CLUTCH, both in the music and the vocals, on this one.  Take the heaviest CLUTCH album (probably “Blast Tyrant”) and then just…make it even darker and more dense—this is a good way to describe what I’m hearing on “The Harvest.”

The opening track, “Scythe,” is a clean intro that fades off a few seconds before the title track begins and this one hits like a ton of bricks, the long faded intro not having properly prepared for such a sonic assault.  The heavy riffs are paired with vocals that are as expressive as a blues vocalist and the lyrics roll around easily enough over the riffs.  Some of the heavier vocal moments in the song recall more Sludge style like early MASTODON and CROWBAR—gruff but not overbearing to the music in which they reside.

The drums aren’t flashy but Ill be damned if they don’t compliment the songs like nobody’s business.  He doesn’t need to hide his talent behind pointless bashing—the guy embraces the song and runs with it.  The bass is as threatening as the guitars and they pulsate through the song, and the album as a whole, with a thunderous fuzz. This is evident in “Savage,” a track that is built up on the bass from which the song seems to be named.  A smooth rhythmic flow settles in early on and never lets go. When the tempo increases, a jaunty punk rock feel comes out of the sludge.  It works extremely well and before you know you’ll find yourself hitting the repeat button.

SABBATH worship even makes an appearance with “Primeval,” a track who’s main riff would feel at home on a long lost 70’s rock/metal album.   As one with a throwback feel, “Primeval,” also evokes something a bit mysterious and dangerous—much like the riffs that are nothing short of a monstrous stampede. “Tombs,” is a monolithic track that just straight up crushes.  Combine the weighty music with the catchy vocal lines and drum riffs, you get one of the best songs the band as done.  The last thirty seconds end the song perfectly with hammered riffs and a slight dose of melody.

As an instrumental, the final track, “Amphetamine,” caps off the album perfectly.  It is a groove filled romp that takes no prisoners, especially with the deep double bass from the drums.  Many of the riffs are psychedelic in nature which goes well enough with the song’s title for a haze jam session. With “The Harvest,” THAL are showing they have longevity and the chops to keep putting out solid album after solid album for, hopefully, many years to come.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Scythe
2. The Harvesting
3. Shroud
4. Tonguerazor
5. Savage
6. Primeval
7. Lifeline
8. Tombs
9. Amphetamine
Kevin Hartnell – Drums, Guitars
John Walker – Guitars, Vocals, Bass
Record Label: Overlook Hotel Records


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