Tithe - Penance

15 May 2020 - Thorsten

Noise-Sludge-Metal | Tartarus Records | Release date: 15 May 2020

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Tithe demonstrates that Portland, Oregon is definitely like a mecca for people who like music offside the charts.

Portland is a very interesting city with many very different scenes – ranging from Industrial tunes like Folian to an interesting indie scene surrounding Kill Rock Stars. However, one should not forget Portland’s extreme metal scene, here one shouldn’t forget Tchornobog, UADA, Bible Black Tyrant or – from now on – Tithe.

Their debut album Penance was just released via Dutch label Tartarus Records and is a good example of how Portlandians seemingly don’t care about what people think a record should sound like. Very often, records from the Pacific Northwest sound awesome and at the same time have an underlying sound-construct that is hard to pinpoint: For example, Tchornobog’s records are often doomy or UADA’s are steeped in atmosphere. In that sense, Tithe are good ambassadors of their hometown, as their debut stresses another side of American metal: Southern Swamp. Not that they sound like a black metal version of the Allman Brothers or another version of Crowbar, but one can clearly hear the influence of a band like Eyehategod or their sound. Sometimes, even some kind of Pantera-groove can be audible. A good example would be the final track “Lullaby”.

What is really unique about Tithe is their use of samples through which they also clarify their thematic idea. Penance is about problems of one’s position within society that only hurts us on a regular basis. “Scum” starts with a monologue that ends with the words “Until the day you die / You, not me, will always be shit”, just before a harsh death-metal rollercoaster starts its rage. The key line is “Selfish insect / No remorse / Souless Devil / Burn your ties / Burn your family / Die alone / You reap what you sow” - the person addressed surely did something to deserve this tirade and must have hit the narrator badly. “Discordia Tetrahedron” throws the line “Cathartic healing release / Sorrow and joy rejoice / Pushing the heart through the void” into your ears – we all must heal from the wounds slashed by others.

Musically the band shows some good moments when they step a bit on the breaks and give the songs more than just speed and rage. The intro to <i<”Mantra”</i> definitely shows that clearly, just like the small parts in “Lullaby” when the trio slows it down a bit to let the song unfold its tornado-like pull.

These moments should be a hint at what the band is capable of achieving if they concentrate a bit more on varying their musical arsenal, not always going full-throttle and head-on. Tithe has all the factors necessary to become another benchmark for Portland’s extreme metal scene. A staple within an already immensely diverse and successful group of bands from the Pacific Northwest.