This site talks a lot about records and bands that take you on journeys somewhere and aren’t just a collection of news song. It’s a sort of escape, and not every band and/or record does that, nor do they all intend to do that. The ones that do happen to have a different feeling and relationship with me than ones that are just here to be brutal, man.
Canadian black metal band Thrawsunblat is one that always had a way of transforming their music from something you’re simply meant to hear to one that conjures dramatic imagery and sets you on the pathway to somewhere different. On their fourth release “Thrawsunblat IV: Great Brunswick Forest,” the band quite literally is trying to transport you to vocalist/guitarist Joel Violette’s home in the province of New Brunswick. He attempted to write songs that let his listeners visit, in their minds, his home on the Canadian Atlantic coast, and the music very quickly takes you there, into woodsy terrain where you can practically hear damp sticks and leaves break beneath your feet. But there’s something else about this record that makes it noteworthy, and it might cause some longtime followers to tremble. This is not an extreme metal record. Not even close. Instead, Violette and the rest of the band—drummer Rae Amitay (Immortal Bird) and fiddle player Keegan MC—craft songs that are rooted in rustic acoustic and folk music as well as dashes of dark rock for an eight-track effort that is rousing and thoroughly from the heart. It’s also the first time the band recorded together in the same place (the photo above illustrates that), and it does have a live, emotional bend that is palpable.
“Green Man of East Canada” starts the record with acoustic guitars rushing and Violette’s deep clean singing, which fits the mood of this and the other songs pretty well. The track has a bit of a 1980s feel to it, and the track ends with Violette imploring, “Strange man, can you teach us of your ways?” “Here I Am a Fortress” is spirited and pushy, a catchy track that gets in your blood in short order. The build to the chorus is powerful, and while it’s fairly simple, a recitation of the song title, it’s effective as hell. “Against the weight, I chose to carry,” Violette calls, while the final moments of the song are delivered in a capella. “Via Canadensis” has picked guitars, an infectious pace, and even some moments of calm. There are repeated cries of, “On we go!” you might find yourself calling back, while the track gains momentum and has a huge ending. “Song of the Summit” has some electric guitars buzzing into the woodsy atmosphere, and there even are heavier moments that get things moving. Strong melodies and heartfelt expression work to make this song instantly memorable and one of the strongest cuts here.
“Thus Spoke the Wind” is darker and more foreboding, though the tempo still kicks up with energy, and the fiddle quivers and sends jolts. That, along with the acoustic jangling sets fire to the track, roaring and gushing deep into the night. The title track has a heavy folk start, as the vocals are treated with heavy echo, with Violette vowing, “We will withstand time and the immortal wind.” The fiddle playing jars your spinal column, sending scraping waves over the top and giving the song a chilly ambiance that reminds of deep fall. “Singer of Ageless Times” feels like a track that should play when you’re downing a mead, as Violette’s singing bellows and echoes, and after an acoustic-driven first half, the electric elements come alive and start to bury you. The energy is drunken and surging, the fiddle dances off, and Violette wails, “Let me bring you tides from the Maritimes.” “Dark Sky Sanctuary” closes the album starting off with ominous tones, as the acoustics trickle, and then everything gets a big push. The chorus is punchy and catchy, while the band throws all of its energy into making this track a grand finale that ends the album on a vivacious note.
This record might take some adjustment for listeners who have been along for the entire ride, but there’s not an ounce of “Thrawsunblat IV: Great Brunswick Forest” that isn’t dripping with heart and genuine storytelling. I don’t know if this new approach is permanent or just something that moved them for this album, but it wouldn’t be unwelcomed to hear more of this in the future, even if further woven into their chaotic metal. This is an ideal album for the finally arrived autumn, as forays into forests all over the United States and Canada reveal a kaleidoscope of earthy colors and chilled adventures.
For more on the band, go here: https://thrawsunblat.ca/
To buy the album, go here: https://thrawsunblat.bandcamp.com/