Thaw- Thaw

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Avantgarde Music has definitely been living up to their name, as all of the artists I have reviewed from the label have had a very different sound and touched upon some unique elements within their chosen genre. My latest find from the label is Poland’s Thaw, who has released two demos prior to this year’s self-titled full length. The core of the group’s sound falls into familiar black metal territory, but there are bursts of noise/ambient and sludge that give them a very different feel overall when compared to others that perform this same style. Although in some regards it does seem like they are just beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible with this combination, Thaw still manages to impress and could break out of the pack in the coming years.

Rather than diving right into black metal, the instrumentals start off with a slower ambient intro that has harsh, electronic tinged vocals. The waves of sound combined with the harsh and distorted screams make an immediate impression, and make it immediately clear that Thaw may not end up being your average group. The ambient ideas from the first track continue into the very beginning of the second number, creating a seamless transition into a more traditional black metal framework. “Ancestors” has the familiar mixture of slower sections that build up in atmosphere and all-out blasting, but the quality of the songwriting is strong enough to prevent the album from seeming like a mere clone of one particular act. From this point on the instrumentals continue on in this manner, but they begin to implement elements of sludge and doom that really push the boundaries of the black metal sound. Thaw’s closing number “Under the Slag Heap” is perhaps the best example of this, as it has the type of extreme distortion and slow pace that wouldn’t sound out of place on a drone/doom record. However, while I definitely found the tracks to have some standout moments I couldn’t help feeling that there remains quite a bit of room for the group to experiment further. An expansion of the noise/ambient angle of the intro track is one route I’d like to see Thaw explore, and it will be interesting to see just how far they are able to take this combination.

The vocals remain consistently intense, as after the aforementioned distorted moments on intro “The Gate” they open up into harsher screams and the occasional burst of clean singing. Rather than placing the vocal work front and center, Thaw has mixed their material in a way that often places it just underneath the wall of sound which allows the harsher tones to blend in with the overall noise and add to the overall energy level. I like this approach quite a bit, as it doesn’t place the emphasis on solely the instrumentals or vocals but instead allows them to work together to create a cohesive soundscape that sucks the listener in. But if you do choose to hone in on the vocal performance while listening you’ll notice that both the harsh and cleaner ranges vary quite a bit and don’t stick with one style for too long, giving the group a bit more versatility than initially expected.

Thaw comes off as an impressive band that is beginning to take the black metal framework and push it into sludge/doom and experimental territory. There is quite a lot to like about their debut, but I believe the best is yet to come and that as the instrumentalists continue to experiment and truly take their craft to the next level. I’ll definitely be returning to their debut in the meantime as it outshines some of the other black metal efforts I have heard in recent months but just can’t shake the feeling that in another album or two these guys will be at an entirely different level from everyone else.

Leave a Reply