30 Nov 2021 - Jonas
Post-Metal/Sludge/Neocrust | Surviving Sounds | Release date: 12 Nov 2021
While the art of fusing various genres isn’t new, probably dating back to the late ’60s when we started seeing various combinations of Jazz and the more contemporary Rock’n’Roll music of the time, we sometimes see amalgamations of genres that shouldn’t work well, in theory. Blending the slow, low and heavy approach of Sludge metal with something like the blistering and visceral nature of Crustpunk may seem entirely antithetical, when in reality it actually works really well, as we’ve seen time and time again with bands like Downfall of Gaia, Alpinist, Fall of Efrafa, Dödsrit, and now… THÅRN.
While this could be considered a transatlantic duo these days, what with one member having recently moved to New England, they actually have their humble beginnings in London, just before the COVID-19 pandemic spawned into existence. This project features Luke Booth (bass and vocals) from the otherwise Brighton-based atmospheric Post-Hardcore outfit We Never Learned to Live, as well as Jérôme Barré (guitar and vocals), from Finis Omnivm, a previously London-based Post-Black Metal project with French roots.
On January 11, 2020, their debut EP, I, was released, featuring 14 minutes of heavy-hitting crust-infused post-metal, setting an exemplary trajectory of great things to come, with aspirations to do live shows in the near future. Enter the pandemic. Everything grinds to a complete halt. London, as well as the rest of the UK, faced their first nationwide government-mandated lockdown to flatten the curve, with several other long-lasting restrictions being implemented as well, most of which were devastating to live music. This, however, didn’t deter THÅRN from continuing their journey, albeit remotely, something that Barré already had experience with through some of the Finis Omnivm output that featured French musicians.
On November 12, 2021, THÅRN released their debut full-length, Collisions which clocks in at a little over 34 minutes, spanning over 4 tracks, which, depending on definitions, puts it in a grey area between an EP and an LP, which really is my only complaint with this release – The length. The first track, “The Way”, starts off with a gritty and earthy guitar reverb, a sound that is almost synonymous with modern Neo-Crust, followed by the vocals tearing it open, although subdued, with a tickling bassline to propel it forward up until the mid-mark where it explodes into a flurry of blast beats. After having picked up some considerable speed, it eventually breaks down into slow and heavy sledgehammer-like riffs, with both Barré and Booth simultaneously delivering furious vocals that rattle my very skeleton.
The following two tracks, “Replacements” and “Mute”, clock in at around 10 minutes each, double that of the opening track, giving them considerably more room for building up to cathartic climaxes akin to that of other Post-Metal contemporaries. The crust punk influence is still there, but way more subtle and polished. The album closer, “Shadow of Another”, gives us the best of both worlds, combining the sheer weight and storytelling of Post-Metal with the more ferocious essence of Crustpunk.
While keeping the formula of their debut EP, Collisions expands on it exponentially. Back in the ’50s, the psychologist Robert Francis Winch once posited that it isn’t the similarities, but the complementarities, that makes relationships work, something that has been condensed into the popular saying: “Opposites attract”. This is a something I feel applies to the fullest extent of the definition when combining elements of atmospheric Sludge Metal with Crustpunk, two genres that at some point may have had a common ancestor, but diverged along the axis of time, only to eventually converge into the chimera you see before you today in THÅRN’s debut album. I only hope that the physical distance between the two members will strengthen their resolve to keep this project going because this could be the beginning of something huge.