Originally written by Jason Lawrence
Ugh, a long time coming is this review of Thrall of Australia’s sophomore album Vermin to the Earth. It’s been a turbulent couple months for yours truly, and my lack of writing is only one facet of testament to that fact. Between a ridiculous influx of new employment and more family fuckin’ drama than I can shake a stick at – including having an invaluable family heirloom stolen from me and sold for drug money by my own sibling – well, all’s been ker-azy in Phillyland. But my troubles are not your own and you probably came here only for that totally neat-o cover art of the skull, amirite?
Well, here goes:
For all those recently turned on to the prospect of good Australian black metal with this year’s epic album by Woods of Desolation — which reminded heavily of Agalloch and Alcest — don’t expect the same from Thrall. This is a Moribund band; there’s nothing post and/or shoegaze about these guys. This is filthy, rocking, grim and about as pissed as an Englishman after his twelfth consecutive pint of Newcastle within an hour. It reminds heavily of the attitude and output of bands like Watain and Craft more than anything I can think of off my acceptably inebriated hand — perhaps also a splattering of the sort of thing you’ve come to expect of Leviathan, with long, strung-out, heavily-distorted guitar parts that bring to mind shooting up heroin in hell.
Vermin to the Earth is hella solid, but 2011 has been a year rife with awesome black metal albums. Actually, it’s been damn near ridiculous how many good-to-excellent albums we’ve seen this year within the sub-genre. I really do hope this one, however, doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. If nothing else, despite being a totally above-average band on what is and what shall be one of the most respected labels that caters mostly to black metal fans, this is some really stand-out stuff if given the time to gestate. As you’ve no doubt read a million times in metal reviews of bands playing familiar styles, this is nothing earth-shaking. It’s not going to redefine your life like In the Nightside Eclipse or whatever was your first album of the style. Really, though – not being Striborg has to be worth something, and there’s some unwritten law about giving props to quality albums from locales that are as far away from America or Europe as the Land Down-Under is.
One of the greatest perks of this album is its excellent production. Everything sounds reasonably filthy and as raw as you would hope and, frankly, would expect of this style. That said, the balance is perfect. Huge drums, grinding guitar tone, very audible/pounding bass and some seriously enraged/deranged vocals. I can’t compare this to its predecessor, but if it’s anywhere near Vermin‘s quality, I’m surprised this band’s name hasn’t been bandied around more often by the legions. Perhaps that’s because of all the odd streams of blackened stuff being made lately, from Wolvhammer to Wolves in the Throne Room. But I’d like to think, for the discerning fan, that there is always a place for some quality, orthodox fucking black metal. That’s what Thrall delivers here, in spades. For that, I cannot and will not fault them.