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Thoren - Gwarth I

Gwarth I
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 19 October 2018, 1:23 PM

Detroit-based instrumental progressive death metallers THOREN, featuring current and former members of IMPERIAL TRUIMPHANT and PYRRHON, are proud to announce the release of their second full-length album, “Gwarth I,” which will see release on November 9th via Drylands Records. THOREN had previously released their debut full-length “Brennenberg” in 2016 which featured a wealth of top-shelf talent and impressive guest spots, ranging from appearances by ex-OBSCURA fretless genius Fountainhead to a solo from COMA CLUSTER VOID guitarist John Strieder, to mesmerizing drums from member Christopher Burrows.

“Gwarth I” is the culmination of several years spent crafting and recording 19 new songs of uncompromising darkness and instrumental mastery split up into two albums with the second half, “Gwarth II,” coming later in 2019. “Gwarth I” also marks the group's first effort with contributions from ex-PYRRHON, and live for MALIGNANCY drummer Alex Cohen, and IMPERIAL TRIUMPHAN and SECRET CHIEF 3 drummer Kenny Grohowski, with each drummer splitting drum duties on different songs. The album contains nine tracks.

“Firith” is a brief one-minute opening track of slow, distorted noise, with a barely discernable pattern amidst the dissonance, leading to “Aragwaen,” which is about two-and-a-half minutes of structured chaos. There is very little here in the traditional sense of musicality, and it takes your brain a few listens to get use to the patterns here. “Galvorn” is a little bit longer. The guitars mix deep with the bass and drums in twisted, gnarled passages, like trying to overcome an area of dense bush, shrubs and trees, that just gets thicker the further in you go. At some point you are in over your head and there is no going back. The accents used here and there hold the song to some level of consistency but it isn’t much. “Scatha” opens with dissonant guitars and impressive drumming. If nothing else, the relative lack of a meter means the rhythm keeper must be on top of things, and that is definitely the case here. It does settle into a desolate groove at one point in the track.

“Daleb Dath” opens with discordant, crushing passages of chaos with pause here and there, before rolling forward into a flurry of various notes and the cold chill of a winter wind. “Angos” is a shorter track with spitting guitars and running bass. Once again, the drums are keeping a near-impossible pace of ever-shifting meters and you nearly lose your sense of time throughout. “Ebrietas” is a fast-moving song with plenty of pig squeals and stop-and-start guitar pyrotechnics, to go along with some patterned passages of absolute punishment. “Kos” is actually the longest song on the album, at just over four minutes. It opens with clean guitar notes and some background ambiance. The notes play with dissonance, as the background begins to swirl. It treads rather lightly throughout, poised for a strike that never happens.

“Tyranny” closes the album in the sense of the title of the song. There are hard hitting accents here and tail-chasing moments where you can see the end but can’t figure out how to get there. What is “music” anyway? Webster’s defines it is “an art of sound in time that expresses elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.” Under a traditional definition, “Gwarth I” barely qualifies. However, it takes a lot of skill to pull something like this off…no doubt about it. You can definitely tell that the years of practice the band spoke about have paid off, because you can’t compose stuff like this half-cocked. Still, in the end, I have to wonder what is the end game?

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Firith
2. Aragwaen
3. Galvorn
4. Scatha
5. Daleb Dath
6. Angos
7. Ebrietas
8. Kos
9. Tyranny
Anthony Lipari – Guitars
Joseph Paquette – Bass
Alex Cohen – Session Drums
Kenny Grohowski – Session Drums
Maggie Cocco – Session Vocals (Track 8: "Kos")
Record Label: Drylands Records


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