Thrall: Misanthropic Black Metal, Vermin To The Earth

Tasmania, a land unknown to civilised humanity until the early 1800s which remains largely uninhabitable to this day; once seen as a place of banishment, for those beyond redemption, one of the farthest flung corners of the British Empire.’, is birthplace to the misanthropic, anti-humanistic entity of Thrall. Given the nature of the land as well as fellow inhabitants, it hardly seems surprising that an act like Thrall harbours deeply misanthropic, almost naturalistic premonitions; ‘There are parts of Tasmania that remain uninhabited by humans to this day due to the inhospitable climate and barren earth. The idea of nature rejecting humans appeals to me greatly.’ This is not an attempt to pinpoint them under a certain philosophical outlook, let it be made clear that ‘To have a unified position would undermine the principles that we have in common. I seek to undermine all organised or centralised philosophical, religious or political doctrines. I am opposed to such belief-systems. I believe that such life-methodologies limit the perception/will of the individual.’

Originating as ‘Thy Plagues’ with the ‘Wrath Eternal’ recording that was released in a limited edition of 20 copies, Tom soon after enlisted Em to help with instrument duties for live performances; ‘On the strength of one of these performances Trent [Griggs] approached us about recording us. The eventual result was our first album and the decision to rename the project given the change in scope and style.’ Thus Thrall was born. They have recently signed with LURKER favourite, Total Holocaust Records for the release in question; ‘Away From The Haunts of Man’ which combines elements of Black Metal, Doom, Punk, Thrash, orthodox black metal that conjures fond memories of early Darkthrone as well as a whole host of inspirational content ranging from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to David Lynch’s composer Angelo Badalamenti. When questioned further on the influences behind Away From The Haunts of Man’ it becomes apparent the duo are not playing Black Metal for the sake of Black Metal. Their influences are as widely stretched as D-beat and Jazz, so much so that ‘Thrall has been a deliberate return to playing within a genre and then attempting to introduce musical elements from outside the genre such as music box, rhythmic structures from other genres, uncommon guitar effects and so on.

Thrall fuse the mid-paced blast-beats of old-school black metal with lush vacuum-tube soaked guitars. Their bio is true, tracks vary from primitive black metal to gloriously constructed sound-scapes that collapse into doom and ambience conveying mannerisms and atmospheric undertones Tasmanian neighbour Sin Nanna of Striborg can only begin to convey. This misanthropic venture seems more mature and understood than the dull outbreak Black Metal has suffered as of late. Tom, progenitor of Thrall, does not wish to align himself with ‘secular society, academia or rationalism either. They all have their own vested interests in controlling access to knowledge, wealth and the perpetuation of their own institutions – in much the same way as cloistered religious organisations perpetuate themselves. Hatred of humanity essentially involves the view that ‘humans have much more in common with viruses that consume their host or the biological system that sustain them’. Whilst ‘Certain animal species limit their reproduction depending on the resources that are available’, take a look at earth from space, the immutable grey whitewash polluted mass of any crowd inhabited city compared to the ever shrinking green rainforests and jungles. If earth were an apple, humanity would represent the mould.

‘Away From The Haunts of Man’ is a mammoth voyage lasting over 60 minutes, travelling through, amalgamating and punishing a relentless amount of musical influence and conceptual skill. Album opener, ‘Spit In The Eye’, omits any jaded intro and lurches at once into orthodox, thrashing Black Metal completely riddled with striking binary sections, distorted arpeggios and hardcore like vocal arrangements (Humanity you disgust me! Perfect annihilation! Sans compassion!). From the doomier ‘Rank Webs’, the ambience of ‘To Velvet Blackness’ to the straight laced black metal of ‘Heliophobia’, culminating in the grand opus of ‘Robe of Flesh’ whose Weaklingesque vocals, penchant for atmosphere and tension headline the entire album, the variety is almost ominous.

When questioned about the bands immediate future and where their well of influence and deep-seeded misanthropia will take them, Em speaks ‘I would like to play some shows, maybe in other places that I haven’t played before. I’d like to go back to Japan and tour with Ruins (Australia) or Psycroptic. Those guys are our friends. I’d like to make another film clip. I’d like to finish mixing the next album Thrall II: “Vermin to the Earth”, and start rehearsing for the next EP that we’ve done some conceptual work on, but we haven’t written much yet.’ Having recently finished recording their sophomore effort; ‘Vermin to the Earth’, which in itself promises a vast array of different, divergent ideas (‘We’re very proud of this recording. We used some very special microphones on the guitars and vocals in particular. The album is much more organic and live than “Away from the Haunts of Men”. We’re hoping the mixing/mastering will be done within the year’), as well as a conceptual EP on the way focused on the topic of ‘Aokigahara (青木ヶ原), a.k.a. the Sea of Trees (樹海 Jukai). The region is prominent in Japanese mythology and literature and is supposedly the 2nd most popular suicide destination in the world.

Judging by the intonations regarding upcoming possibilities; the unique recording conditions of ‘Vermin to the Earth’, the upcoming conceptual EP, Tom hoping to continue illustrating for both Thrall and other ventures, their general unwillingness to commit to any garnered, rationalised philosophical perspective, the project seems to be in the unlimited creativity of its youth. ‘Away From The Haunts of Man’ is available now on Total Holocaust Records, available from the label and the band themselves. Expect more news on any Thrall developments as they come available through bands Myspace.

You'll find me in the vast wilderness of British Columbia, talking metal at LURKER, or working in publishing and front-end web/eBook development.


  • Reply July 27, 2010


    Great work, Alex.

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