Thaw - St. Phenome Alley
Black Metal, Experimental Gloomy is the day outside my window and gloomy is my state of mind ready to be hit with some heavy tunes. In a search for something that will vibrate on the same frequency with my autumn depression, I came across an album by a Polish black metal band Thaw with an extremely intriguing cover. This is the exact case when the art of the front cover speaks by itself and reminds us why it is so important to buy physical copies of records in the age of digital streaming. A mysterious figure wrapped in a dark cloak standing in the middle of a foggy grey field - nothing could be better for my current condition. I felt that it is my piece of cake from the first glance even without listening to the album itself and I was not disappointed.
Quite often black metal bands try to create some ambient / experimental pieces of music and cram them here and there inside their bombastic (or not) albums. I must admit that back in the mid-90's when I started to listen to different metal and non-metal stuff, I was desperately looking for such tracks. There was no internet back then and I had a little access to industrial and dark ambient CDs, that’s why every slow melody created with silly midi-tunes seemed a masterpiece for me. Today with more than twenty years of experience in listening to thousands of records I understand how naïve I was, but still I remember those intros and outros with really warm feelings. Nowadays they might seem childish and crappy compared to professional experimental artists' materials. If tracing the history of metal music, rarely you come across truly solid non-metal records created by hairy head bangers. If you don’t want to agree with me on this issue, try to search by yourself and compare to materials that labels like Loki or Malignant or Cold Meat can offer. Anyhow, today I am not talking about those lovely labels that please all their faithful fans, but I decided to leave some space for Poland residents to show me what they have in mind.
To be honest, I expected something special from those guys, because I had an opportunity to listen to their split with another great band Echoes Of Yul that was released during 2014 where they presented a good portion of experimental droning metal and I found it to be really entertaining. Wrapped in black cloaks and armed with sharp and uncompromising riffs, Thaw is considered to be one of the leading forces in contemporary Polish black metal. But what I witnessed through “St. Phenome Alley” was beyond any expectation.  The album contains two long instrumental tracks; each of them is more than twenty minutes long, though if you expect some monotonous looped piano passages, as you had been used to hear from black metal bands before, you will be more than surprised. The first track with a code name "N/A/K" starts slowly, whispering suavely with accidental sounds of cymbals and drums. Different guitars join the scene with their contribution in something that seems to be an extremely psychedelic jam session instigating a climate of fear all around the place. But the puzzle begins to receive the final form after a couple of minutes and the whole heaviness of combination between ritualistic drumming, background hum and distorted guitars hits me very hard pressing with a 500lb rock. A total improvisation continues in the second track as well, but the atmosphere becomes even darker and more obscure. A flywheel of painful creepy desperation rotates faster and faster capturing every corner of my soul as the music becomes extremely intense reaching its peak after 18 minutes when all the instruments interweave in one massive wall of sound.
The same techniques that had been heard from the monsters like Nadja, Sunn O))) or even Swans receive a slightly different perspective and sound surprisingly fresh when they are played on "St. Phenome Alley". So, if you ask me what I love about music, I would have answered that I feel a strong connection to the roots that I come from, but I also love the magical moments when I discover such records. It is a great pleasure to see that there are still bands out there which can express themselves through different genres and Thaw is definitely one of them.
5
Brutal Resonance

Thaw - St. Phenome Alley

Gloomy is the day outside my window and gloomy is my state of mind ready to be hit with some heavy tunes. In a search for something that will vibrate on the same frequency with my autumn depression, I came across an album by a Polish black metal band Thaw with an extremely intriguing cover. This is the exact case when the art of the front cover speaks by itself and reminds us why it is so important to buy physical copies of records in the age of digital streaming. A mysterious figure wrapped in a dark cloak standing in the middle of a foggy grey field - nothing could be better for my current condition. I felt that it is my piece of cake from the first glance even without listening to the album itself and I was not disappointed.
Quite often black metal bands try to create some ambient / experimental pieces of music and cram them here and there inside their bombastic (or not) albums. I must admit that back in the mid-90's when I started to listen to different metal and non-metal stuff, I was desperately looking for such tracks. There was no internet back then and I had a little access to industrial and dark ambient CDs, that’s why every slow melody created with silly midi-tunes seemed a masterpiece for me. Today with more than twenty years of experience in listening to thousands of records I understand how naïve I was, but still I remember those intros and outros with really warm feelings. Nowadays they might seem childish and crappy compared to professional experimental artists' materials. If tracing the history of metal music, rarely you come across truly solid non-metal records created by hairy head bangers. If you don’t want to agree with me on this issue, try to search by yourself and compare to materials that labels like Loki or Malignant or Cold Meat can offer. Anyhow, today I am not talking about those lovely labels that please all their faithful fans, but I decided to leave some space for Poland residents to show me what they have in mind.
To be honest, I expected something special from those guys, because I had an opportunity to listen to their split with another great band Echoes Of Yul that was released during 2014 where they presented a good portion of experimental droning metal and I found it to be really entertaining. Wrapped in black cloaks and armed with sharp and uncompromising riffs, Thaw is considered to be one of the leading forces in contemporary Polish black metal. But what I witnessed through “St. Phenome Alley” was beyond any expectation.  The album contains two long instrumental tracks; each of them is more than twenty minutes long, though if you expect some monotonous looped piano passages, as you had been used to hear from black metal bands before, you will be more than surprised. The first track with a code name "N/A/K" starts slowly, whispering suavely with accidental sounds of cymbals and drums. Different guitars join the scene with their contribution in something that seems to be an extremely psychedelic jam session instigating a climate of fear all around the place. But the puzzle begins to receive the final form after a couple of minutes and the whole heaviness of combination between ritualistic drumming, background hum and distorted guitars hits me very hard pressing with a 500lb rock. A total improvisation continues in the second track as well, but the atmosphere becomes even darker and more obscure. A flywheel of painful creepy desperation rotates faster and faster capturing every corner of my soul as the music becomes extremely intense reaching its peak after 18 minutes when all the instruments interweave in one massive wall of sound.
The same techniques that had been heard from the monsters like Nadja, Sunn O))) or even Swans receive a slightly different perspective and sound surprisingly fresh when they are played on "St. Phenome Alley". So, if you ask me what I love about music, I would have answered that I feel a strong connection to the roots that I come from, but I also love the magical moments when I discover such records. It is a great pleasure to see that there are still bands out there which can express themselves through different genres and Thaw is definitely one of them. Dec 08 2015

Andrew Dienes

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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