It was a long time since we were waiting for the release of a new Thou album, but we certainly cannot complain of having spent the last few months with nothing new to hear from them. Only in 2018, in fact, the metal band from Louisiana has made available three different EPs (!). These interim publications haveprepared us for the arrival of their fifth and new full-lenght record, Magus, which comes four years after their much celebrated Heathen, an album that helped the band to consolidate their status of “titans of sludge”.
Albums like Magus make us think about the very meaning of extreme metal. What’s the ultimate goal of this type of music? Relief? Liberation? Pleasure? The primordial feeling that you get as soon as the record starts is something close to a sonic punishment: monolithic sequences of distorted guitars slap you with imperturbable repetitiveness, and your feel like you’re crushed between walls of impenetrable sounds. But once you start to get a little confidence with this new musical dimension (and this can happen relatively quickly or after a certain number of listens, depending on how much you are already accustomed to this genre of music), every time you’re in the center of this dense and boiling stream of heaviness you understand that your heart now pulsates at the same incessant rhythm of music, and at this point everything is clear: anger and despair are materialized in front of you in the form of those obsessive, nasty and apparently chaotic riffs that only bands like Thou are able to conceive. Clearly this is not music for distraction. Even the fans of sludge and doom cannot afford to put this record in the background and do something else. You must enter the tide, and be carried away.
The overarching musical concept on which Magus is built may be summarized as a special version of post-black metal played with the typical rough sounds of sludge. The songs of the album are all characterized by thick atmospheres, abrasive lyrics, and megalithic and obsessively slow riffs. From a stylistic point of view, Magus moves definitely away from the roadmap that was somehow outlined with the recent EPs. The intriguing (and surprising) influences from dark folk and alternative-rock that we appreciated in Inconsolable and Rhea Sylvia, in particular, are almost completely absent from Magus, which has been clearly refocused on the most heavy and powerful aspects of the band’s sound. I’ve been partially disappointed by that: I was curious to see how the recent excursions of the band outside the conventional borders of sludge & doom could further evolve in the following publications of the band. On the other hand, however, the stylistic coherence and the cohesion of Magus are impressive and the emotional impact which is generated by the new songs is something really unique in the metal scene.
One of my favorite songs of the album is definitely Transcending Dualities. The first comment that was posted on the Yotube page of this song says: “I tried playing this on my way to work, but it was so heavy it crushed my car”.