Thrawsunblat – Metachthonia

Five years ago in December, Woods of  Ypres’ frontman and Thrawsunblat’s drummer, David Gold, tragically died in a car accident. So it’s fitting to review some new material from a band he was involved in. While Woods of Ypres split up, Thrawsunblat, a band founded by ex-Woods of Ypres guitarist Joel Violette, continued and released their third studio album (and second without Gold) back in june. The vinyl version which I am going to review was released at the beginning of December 2016, nearly half a year after the CD release,  via what appears to be the band’s own label in collaboration with Broken Limbs Recordings. Since the vinyl was not available through a european merch I had to order directly from the band which added a ton of shipping costs – and in this case It was worth it!

Quick Facts: 
Artist: Thrawsunblat
Album: Metachthonia
Version: 2LP, Limited Edition, Winter Sky (white/blue swirl and clear with blue haze) – Discogs Link
Label: Ignifera Records/Broken Limbs Recordings

Let’s start with the good – the LP’s are among the best looking of 2016 in my collection (and I bought roughly 200) especially the clear with blue haze second LP. The white/blue swirl reminds me a lot of Blood Music swirl releases of the past. This being a non heavyweight vinyl release actually adds to the looks this time. The spindle hole is cut out perfectly, the stickers are well aligned, the records are neither warped nor off-center. Great quality pressing.  The records come in a plain black paper sleeve unfortunately and not in anti-static ones.

The gatefold however is another story. While the quality is pretty good (although I received it bent, a risk you have to take when ordering overseas) the whole artwork is not very appealing (to me). I usually like nature as cover art (see Negura Bunget – Tau) but this looks like a random image in the woods with a bright flood light, a photoshopped sky and some instagram filter put over it. The back of the gatefold is black with the track list in  a hard to read font and the bonus tracks in another font. The inner gatefold is a grayscale image with the lyrics printed on it. Due to very little space in between it looks rather cramped. All three images could easily be from three different albums.

Metachtonia looks like a patchwork. Colourful cover art, grayscale gatefold, black back, blue/white record and clear/blue record. It’s a bit much but fortunately I do not care, as the music is a completely different story!

Music quality:
The album is definitely among the better sounding releases of 2016. It was mastered for vinyl by Garry Brents of GAB Recordings. The sound quality is excellent – There have been a lot of issues with the DR Offline Meter lately so I won’t be able to provide the correct rating this time. I got a lot of confusing readings like the lossless version of the album (which comes with the album via a download code) having the same FDR Rating as the MP3 and Streaming version (FDR of 5) while the vinyl version showed a rating of as high as 13. Apparently there are some issues with the connection from my turntable to the line in of my computer as the analysis in Spek (see pictures below) suggests. Nevertheless – the vinyl version seems to be on par with the losless flac version of the album. At least that’s what my hearing suggests. The streaming version (Spotify/extreme Quality) and the MP3 version (320bit) sound less dynamic and worse. When comparing this album to other high quality releases like the FDR reissue of At the Gates – Slaugther of the Soul or Moonspell’s recent reissue of Irreligous the quality is roughly the same. So an excellent release in terms of sound quality.

The music:
Thrawsunblat managed to make a stunning album which stands out in a genre where many bands sound alike. There are passages reminding me of older and newer Woods of Ypres, Agalloch, Winterfylleth without plain copying them but rather weaving those influences into a very distinctive and unique sound. The cuts between harsh singing and the slower, almost peaceful clear vocal parts create an atmosphere I have only experienced on AHAB’s – The Giant so far. The folk elements are refreshing and have nearly nothing in common with the usual folk influences in metal. This album is definitely in my top 5 of 2016 and I am really looking forward to any future releases of Thrawsunblat.

Up next:

I know I’ve said in my last review that I’d ditch the up-next part. But in this case I already know what my next review is going to be about. As I finally got my hands of the recent Spinefarm/Candlelight reissues of the Emperor albums I will finally be able to compare “In the Nightside Eclipse” to the awful Back on Black reissue I reviewed last year.