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Thralldom - A Shaman Steering the Vessel of Vastness

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Artist: Thralldom

Album: A Shaman Steering the Vessel of Vastness

Label: Profound Lore

Review date: Apr. 9, 2006

Shaman, ostensibly the swan song from Thralldom members Killusion, Jaldagar and the ever mysterious Wolfmaster, is the group’s finest effort, surprisingly steering itself clear of nearly any notion of Black Metal; instead offering a recording that leans mightily on manipulated ambience, whether it’s subliminal skree, atonally warped AM/shortwave transmission, or repetitive motif: fanged metal, Syd Barrett styled guitar somnolence.

Lyrically, Killusion operates in familiar loci: politics, occultism, transmogrification – shape-shifting. The self-same topical colors, but the canvasses that hold them are so palpably different, recognition – if even possible – is slow coming. Pinned onto ruminations re: essences, abominations, psychic warfare, blasphemy, mythos and Egyptian Dynasty are careful transliterations into “real-time.” Killusion’s Montauk home merges into Mentu, ruled by Mont, the Egyptian God of War. The physical is quickly drained of its attribute; maligned into submission, the corporal celled in its coffin before it coughs up its last breath. Killusion even benignly cribs Crowlean “magick”; quoting “Dead Aeon of the Slain Gods,” a tract on eastern mysticism and theosophy from Liber Aleph Vel CXI: The Book of Wisdom & Folly.

Sonically, “Quantum Frost” offers up a blacksmith din at earth’s core; percussion as hammered and pounded alloy; guitars slowly snaking around shifting foundations; lyrics are delivered as they most always are: violently spat, offering catharsis, release, an emptying of hatred into silence’s unwilling receptacle. “Only the Dead Speaks the Truth,” with its gnarled guitar motor and near harmonium wake could have been an outtake from P.J. Harvey’s Rid of Me. “Narrow Road” combines the fractured meander of Barrett’s “Golden Hair” and “Feel,” drenching pleasing acoustic tones in froths of lyrical occultism: There are snakes and swine; piss and poisons; blasphemy and blood. The song operates via diametric tension, tossing out opposition with every strum of the guitar; eventually, the tolerance/ intolerance template winds out, diffused as a radio silenced by batteries’ expiration. “The Mentu Dynasty” heralds the Rise of Amon, and jests at those unable to aspire to such cacophony. Impossibly dense guitar recalls Ecstasy of St Theresa’s centrifugal shoegaze, or Malefic and his most confrontationally voluminous.

Shaman is received with great ambivalence, marking the end of a band that consistently went against the grain in a genre that pried itself away from nearly any sort of experimentally thematic provocation. Killusion and Wolfmaster will undoubtedly carry on with their main vehicle, Unearthly Trance; even contributing challenging takes on noise and metal ambient with shared and singular foray. Yet, Thralldom’s demise is ultimately disappointing, as the band provided a much needed recourse for those sickened by the lot of Black Metal bands content with picking off the genre’s decaying corpse. In pace requiscat.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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