Michigan’s Thoren are the death metal institution you’ve probably never heard of. Which is a damned shame, honestly. Their 2018 record, Gwarth I, was a labyrinthine collection of instrumental progressive death metal that gave fans of Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, and Ulcerate plenty to go ballistic over. Which makes sense, given the band’s lineup. Featuring members of Brooklyn black metal experimentalists Imperial Triumphant and death metal juggernauts Pyrrhon, there’s plenty of pedigree to go with the band’s endlessly intriguing music. Their third full-length record and sequel to last year’s titanic release, Gwarth II, drops on our completely unready asses on February 7th via Drylands Records, and while we salivate impatiently over its impending release we’ll have album opener “Gwarth” to keep us company. We’re proud to premiere this doozy of a track exclusively here at Heavy Blog Is Heavy!
It would be difficult to describe the sonic gyrations that comprise “Gwarth” as anything other than challenging. In two-and-a-half minutes, the band drop dissonant insanity that pulls inspiration from the work of bands like Flourishing, Portal, Coma Cluster Void, and Behold… The Arctopus, unleashing an instrumental hell that rivals the sheer magnitude and technical prowess of the best work of any of these bands. Main songwriter and guitarist Anthony Lipari shines brightly throughout this track, jumping wildly between passages like a man possessed. His work here is jagged and uncompromisingly propulsive, feeling ready to leap off a cliff at any given moment. But off-kilter melody always brings the insanity back from the brink, creating just enough to latch onto for the uninitiated. Co-conspirator and bassist Joseph Paquette establishes a rhythmic throughline that’s further accentuated by the delirious drum work of Kenny Grohowski of Imperial Triumphant fame, assisting in creating a boiling cauldron of dissonant death metal that honestly takes a few listens to settle into. But those who give this track the time it deserves will quickly realize that there’s enough good ideas here, executed to near perfection, to fill up plenty of dedicated listening time. It‘s certainly not easy listening by any means, but the band’s uncompromising vision will absolutely destroy those willing to take the sonic journey “Gwarth“ provides.
Thoren are an excellent death metal band, and “Gwarth” is a track that exemplifies everything they do well. It’s my hope that it will serve as a gateway into many an intensely rewarding musical journey through the band’s short yet powerful back catalog. Color us every level of hype for Gwarth II.